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From the coal face: Changing the way an employee rewards process works

Employee rewards
Neo PR makes sure everyone in the company knows when someone has succeeded

When management charged Francesca Bull and her two colleagues with bettering the company’s employee rewards system the small team took things one step further and set about addressing other concerns and ideas they had.

As part of “From the coal face”, our new regular feature series looking at how junior members of staff are leading change from below, Be the Business took a closer look at Buckinghamshire-based B2B PR agency Neo PR to see how the right amount of delegation and empowerment can have a big impact.

While Francesca Bull has only been at Neo PR since October 2017, given the chance to work with her colleagues on improving the way her colleagues’ hard work was rewarded was not something she was going to turn down.

“We did have a rewards system in place, but it wasn’t communicated across all teams and so some were using it more than others,” she explained.

“Myself and two other colleagues wanted to freshen it up but also go a bit further to address company morale and have something which brought us closer together.”

Small but siloed

Neo PR is a small company totalling around 13, but with people juggling lots of different client accounts in different verticals there was often not much communication between certain teams.

“All three of us work in separate teams and so had lots of different insights and viewpoints. We put together a long list of improvements and then came together a final time to bundle those thoughts and bring it together.”

With five key ideas they wanted to move forward with, it was then time to present to management. The three were conscious to explain what the company did or didn’t have at the moment, why change was needed and how it would benefit everyone.

“The feedback was very positive and they were really pleased we’d thought about wider things as well,” she added.

Bull has always worked in smaller companies but has previously found these kind of employee-led initiatives take longer as they’re not given priority. For her, it was quite refreshing to come into an organisation that takes employee wellbeing and morale “really seriously”.

This kind of open culture is important to Bull and is the kind of environment millennials, who want to be involved, desire.

The results

Through the work of Bull and her two colleagues, Neo PR now has a new employee of the month programme and a more comprehensive system for rewarding and shouting about achievements. Through an online platform, staff can share and celebrate their accomplishments, a process that comes together at pub Friday.

The company also has an anonymous survey question sent out once a week – something which helps management stay on top of staff sentiment and quickly identify any problem areas.

Rather than thinking this has solved the problem indefinitely, Bull and her colleagues will readdress it at regular intervals to see what is, and what isn’t, working. “It’s very difficult to measure impact, but you just have to look at the overall morale and productivity,” she noted. “Getting everyone together to share accomplishments means you go beyond work and get to know people personally.”

When asked how the environment of employee-led change compares to previous jobs, and how this challenge might be best approached, Bull was quick to highlight the benefit of looking at an issue from multiple angles – not just what one person might think. “Staff are doing the grunt work so they should know the business better than anyone. It’s about being confident and, as long as you’ve assessed it from all angles and have a good proposal, it should get listened to.

Employee led

While it may be tempting for management to decide what an employee rewards programme looks like, and determine how much budget will be allocated, Neo PR’s approach shows what kind of positive environment can be created by empowering those it will impact on greatly to lead.

By putting trust in a small team, listening to their suggestions and then acting upon them management showed that these kind of employee-led change initiatives will be listened to in the future. This should encourage others to act similarly in the future.

For junior members of staff themselves, Bulls advice is simple. If you want to lead change then make sure you communicate the benefit you think it will have to the entire company.

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