Whether you’re helping your boss create motivational tools for your department, or designing a rewards program for your clerical staff, it’s tempting to assume that cash is king. Although everyone appreciates some extra spending money, there are risks associated with cash incentives, and there are other motivational tools that work without the expense.
One of the easiest motivational tools you can deploy is basic recognition. People want to hear that they did a good job; invested employees need to know that their work matters and that it helps the company or others. This is especially true of clerical staff, who generally bring to the workplace a cadre of people-pleasing skills. Let secretaries know that you appreciate their efforts to schedule meetings amid a busy office culture, compliment administrative assistants on excellent presentations, and let your reception staff know how much their smile means when you’re having a bad day. Recognize good work on a daily basis and make the recognition personal: instead of saying “good job,” identify a specific piece of work that’s appreciated.
Practice what you preach by backing praise up with physical recognition. Cost-effective motivational tools include certificate or trophy recognition programs and luncheons. Don’t limit your programs to an employee-of-the-month award; allow departments to come up with their own recognition programs and get employees involved in voting for or nominating staff members who go above and beyond for their team members. During Administrative Assistants’ Week, recognize one or more clerical staff members for things like positive attitude, assisting others, or overall excellence. Public recognition allows employees to shine, boosting their confidence and increasing the likelihood they’ll continue to deliver excellent results. Incorporate luncheons into recognition programs to give administrative staff a chance to meet and greet executives or other employees. Creating a positive community in your workplace is one of the best ways to motivate staff for the long term.
Although gift cards, bonuses, and other monetary incentives are nice, Travis Pearl, a cofounder of MeritShare, warns companies to be careful when instituting cash-based motivational tools. Monetary incentives place a specific value on the employee’s work, and there’s a chance that you and the employee won’t agree on that value. According to Pearl, using a $50 gift card to reward a clerical worker who spent extra hours putting together a presentation could demotivate the employee—he may feel that the time spent away from his family was worth more. If you plan to use cash-based incentives, make sure they are spelled out in a reimbursement plan that employees understand ahead of time.
Motivational tools don’t have to be backed by big spending in order to create a positive impact on employees. Make it a point to recognize clerical staff for a job well done, back up private compliments with public ceremony, and ensure that any monetary rewards are in line with employee effort.
Nancy Anderson is the communities and article Editor for Beyond.com. Nancy has 10 years’ experience in the online job search business with Beyond. Nancy’s team produces dozens of articles every month for top internet sites. Follow Nancy and the Beyond team on https://twitter.com/BeyondJobs.
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