Helpful hint: getting and keeping the best staff money can’t buy

Engaging staff with little or no additional cost to the bottom line is a challenge facing all businesses today.

Line managers are crying out for salary and bonus increases to retain their best staff but HR and the executive say ‘no’.

However, the good news is that money, according to Daniel Pink and the Centre of Talent Innovation (CTI), is not the major motivator among professional workers. While an acceptable level of salary is critical, recent CTI data shows that workers across a spectrum of ages — from Baby Boomers who have worked hard to reach the peaks of their career, to Generation X’ers struggling to satisfy professional ambitions and personal fulfillment, to Millennials who view work/life balance as their right — are looking for a remix of conventional rewards.
Three nonfinancial offerings rank equal to or higher than money.

1. Everyone wants flexitime. If there’s one work ‘perk’ that rises above the rest, it’s flexible work arrangements. According to CTI research, 87% of Boomers, 79% of Gen X’ers, and 89% of Millennials cite flexible working practices as important.
Flexible working can increase productivity as well as keep employees happier and more content at work: two years after HSBC launched its Flexible Work Arrangement in India, productivity shot up in 88% of the participants and did not decline in the others.

2. Recognition resonates. Thirty-five percent of workers and 30% of chief financial officers in an Accountemps poll cited frequent recognition of accomplishments as the most effective nonmonetary reward. Thanking people for their hard work and commitment is the key to making them feel appreciated.
Writing about an individual or a team on the company’s intranet or showcasing their accomplishments at a town hall meeting can have a big impact.
A senior executive spending personal time with an employee is another popular reward. “Being taken to lunch or breakfast by the boss once in a while not only shows appreciation but interest,” says one CTI interviewee.

3. Take a break. In a climate where most people who have a job are doing their utmost to keep it, few feel they can afford to take a break during the day, even though studies repeatedly show that productivity goes up from just a brisk five- to ten-minute walk. Managers can help shatter the imperative of face time by setting an example to others by taking short breaks, for instance, by going to the gym or getting some fresh air.

Enhanced compensation — even when it’s possible — is no longer enough to motivate high performers. Instead, companies looking to get the best talent money can’t buy should invest in meaningful nonmonetary rewards.

Here are some other non monetary ideas, some of which do have financial implications:
Innovation days. Set aside several days a year to allow employees to step away from their usual responsibilities to tackle projects related to the way they work and the spaces they work in.
Canine colleagues. Got an office full of dog lovers? Then invite house-trained visitors to join the team.
Summer hours. Employees kick back early on Fridays during the summer months, allowing them to beat the heat as well as the traffic if they’re heading away for a weekend.
Free chair massages. Fifteen minutes in the chair once a week, and employees will return to their desks refreshed and ready to tackle their to-do lists.
Tech neutrality. Offer the choice of PCs or Macs so employees can work on the machine with which they’re more comfortable.
Perks for part-time employees. Many organizations treat part-time workers like they were temps. Provide part-time workers with perks and they’ll be acting like full-time workers in no time.
Cultural extras. Keep the workplace exciting by mixing in rewards like concert tickets, movie outings, or passes to sporting events. Sabbaticals. Offer month-long sabbaticals after five years of service, or two months after 10 years of service.
Laundry service. Employ a service to pick up employees’ clothes and drop them back at work, clean and folded.
Car care. Who has time to take their car in for an oil change? Companies have arranged for a service to come to the office and take care of this messy task while employees are working.
Gift matching. The company matches employee’s charitable donations, with the match based on what the company can afford.
Employee referral programs. Good people know other good people, and the best employees are usually hired through referrals. Those who refer candidates who are hired receive a cash bonus award.
Green initiatives. Preferred parking and/or subsidies for those who purchase and drive hybrid vehicles.
Paid time off to volunteer. Employees are given a specific amount of time to volunteer in their communities.
Cleaning services. Sweep employees off their feet–hire professional cleaners to tidy up employees’ homes every two weeks.
Easier dinnertimes. Take care of the people who matter by hiring someone to deliver ready-to-eat healthy dinners that employees can elect to purchase and take home to their families.
Acknowledgment of significant others. When employees do have to work late hours, the people who really pick up the slack are their spouses who are forced to work double duty. Acknowledge their contributions by sending flowers or gift cards, along with a personal note to acknowledge their contribution.