Courtesy and manners from employers leads to a motivated workforce

All it takes is simple courtesy and appreciation to create a motivated workforce, a new study reveals.

Praise from employers is one of the most effective paths to a motivated workforce, according to research from American Express Small Business Services.

According to the research, employees who work for the UK’s small businesses rate praise higher than bonus, (35 per cent compared to 20 per cent) when it comes to what they feel is most important to their job.

Money isn’t everything

When financial remuneration is taken out of the equation, 69 per cent of employees say the simple act of saying thank you is the best way a boss can show their appreciation.  This is followed by small thank you gifts and additional time off was the third most popular choice.

Helping to make them feel valued,  the top five rewards employees say they would most like to receive in recognition for hard work are vouchers or a complimentary meal out, a bottle of wine, tickets to an event or a box of chocolates.

Considering the relatively modest costs of recognising hard work on an ad hoc basis with small gifts such as the above, the research finds that they are effective at keeping employees feeling appreciated and valued (55 per cent), happy (42 per cent) and respected (33 per cent).

Importantly, 90 per cent of the small business owners surveyed agree that it’s important to give their staff ad hoc rewards to recognise hard work and just under a third (30 per cent) claim they spend over £250 per employee on rewards each year.

Nevertheless, 46 per cent of small business owners cite financing rewards on top of other outgoings and having readily available cash flow as the biggest challenges to being able to reward staff.

Almost half (49 per cent) of all employees working for a small business say they haven’t received a small gift or reward in the past year and more than a third (37 per cent) wish they were rewarded more often.

Psychologist and business consultant, Honey Langcaster-James, finds that she often work with organisations and business leaders to solve problems relating to motivated workforce.

She adds, ‘I find that employers frequently believe they can’t afford to reward their staff in addition to paying their salary. When I suggest any kind of reward or recognition system they worry that it will become a costly burden without leading to any positive outcomes.

‘However, what I find, and this study confirms, is that often just simple praise, or a small gift of thanks can go a long way towards making a motivated workforce.’

Karen Penney, head of small business services at American Express understands that finances can be a major block for employers to regularly show their appreciation to employees.

Penney concludes, ‘For those who want to make their business spending work harder, one of the benefits we offer on our Business Cards is the opportunity to earn Membership Rewards – these can be used for statement credits or spent on a range of gifts and experiences that can help take the strain of employee rewards off the Company purse.’

Further reading on motivating staff

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

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