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Diversifying our incentives helped keep staff motivation high

Staff motivation
Asking for honest feedback was crucial for Sukhi Dehal and his management team

The problem

Birmingham-based consultancy 383 faced a battle to keep staff focused and motivated to see important projects through. In a fast-moving industry, it’s crucial staff can solve client problems at pace and be agile enough to switch priorities. But employees would often immerse themselves in projects that tapped into their passions or comfort zones.

The solution

Rather than looking for one common staff incentive, founder Sukhi Dehal recognised that personal motivators are constantly shifting. One month, a financial bonus might be the more powerful incentive – but the next month, it could be something less tangible like flexible working. To motivate staff, 383 needed to make sure it was offering what the staff wanted, not what was just given to them.

The first step for Dehal was to speak to staff and find their motivations. The firm started holding Friday drinks and movie nights to provide employees with an informal environment to share their ideas and needs. The company knew recognition schemes can become something that’s expected or taken for granted, so from an early stage they were keen to keep them fresh and relevant.

The company also developed “learning breakfasts”, which gave staff a platform to present ideas or share something they’ve learnt. It provided an opportunity for peer-to-peer recognition, which 383 believes is just as powerful as managerial feedback. The sessions celebrate both achievements and failures – 383 has always stressed the importance of recognising mistakes as a chance to learn, grow and build resilience.

The results

Though Dehal acknowledges it’s difficult to stop rewards becoming a “novelty factor”, incentives have helped to make staff more action-oriented. In particular, it’s given them drive to complete projects that they wouldn’t normally be passionate about. Its schemes – which now range from weekends away, training sessions and yoga – have also improved retention and boosted the company’s net promoter score (NPS) score from 19 in 2017 to 42 in 2019.

“When we’re coming up with a new incentive, there’s budget considerations and performance considerations, and then we’ll brainstorm reward ideas. Most importantly, there has to be clear communication with staff or it’ll fail,” said Dehal.

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