Serco looks to recognition awards to motivate employees

Essential public services delivery business Serco has a workforce of around 35,000 employees at 542 locations around the world, with staff working in “challenging” environments within defence, transport, justice, immigration, health and other citizen services across national, state and local government.

Serco’s benefits manager Karen Bateman explains that the business is focusing on staff voice, wellbeing and inclusion more so than cash incentives-based motivation.

“People are motivated by all sorts of different things. Motivation comes so much more from the environment within which [we] work, and everyone has a different starting point and lens of what that means. Enabling managers with the tools to identify what this means for their teams and how to work with them to address is more of our focus,” Bateman says.

Money is only a small part of what motivates Serco employees, as the business mainly focuses on local recognition awards that align to its values.

The results of a recent survey to try to better understand recognition in the business indicated that classic recognition such as employee of the month, star performer or star team awards were often used to celebrate local teams and successes. Indeed, some managers in Germany gave out fruit baskets during the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic as a way of recognising the contributions colleagues had made to the business.

Bateman explains that Serco also uses a global recognition scheme called the Pulse awards, which provides an opportunity to nominate staff who have done exceptional things or made exceptional efforts to make a difference to the lives of other people.

“We also offer monthly value awards, which are more frequent than the Pulse awards but celebrate and recognise the same commitment to our values of trust, care, innovation and pride,” she says. “In addition, our group corporate office uses an initiative called Serco Salutes, which seeks to celebrate and recognise not only the achievements of our colleagues but also to support and recognise their life events.”

The business’ main goal with this recognition is to improve employee engagement. This has increased in recent times, as Serco’s 2020 overall employee engagement score was calculated at 70 points out of 100, with those working in its health sector scoring the highest number of 75.