The value of corporate awards for small businesses

Here, Richard Ellis looks at the importance of employee awards and companies celebrating the achievements of their staff and departmental teams.

We are always delighted to hear when our clients have achieved industry recognition or a corporate award for their hard work. Clients like the Humber NHS Foundation Trust which was awarded a HSJ Innovation in Mental Award last year.

Similarly, we also love to hear about the awards our clients give to their employees. Many organisations will have held awards events at the end of last year, celebrating the achievements of their staff and departmental teams.

Not everyone sees the value in giving or pursuing corporate awards, but I think that they could be missing a trick particularly when it comes to HR. Receiving recognition for being a good employer or a great employee can be a very important part of an organisation’s attraction and retention strategies.

Keeping employees in the public sector

For those organisations operating in the public sector, employee attraction and retention can be a real challenge. With private sector earnings overtaking those in the public sector – average earnings at £505 a week compared to the public sector’s £499 a week – and stories in the newspapers about NHS workers leaving to stack shelves in supermarkets, employee attraction and retention is going to be tough in 2017.

This is why seemingly small actions such as achieving awards for being a good employer or recognising staff for their achievements can make a real difference. While salary will always be a factor in recruitment and retention, survey after survey shows that salary is not everything.

Employees cite other reasons for leaving such as not ‘feeling valued’, not ‘getting on’ with their boss or line manager, and not ‘liking the culture’. On the other hand, the opposite of these factors is often the reason employees stay with their employer, even if the salary is not competitive. Positive culture; feeling like a valued member of staff; and health and wellbeing strategies, are all reasons employees stay and also factors that can be used positively to attract new staff.

HR excellence, ‘best employer’ awards, and other benchmarks for being a good employer (diversity, military friendly, working mothers etc.) are great tools for promoting your employer brand. These are not hollow accolades either. To achieve them an organisation really does have to practice what it preaches.

For example, the annual HSJ Best Places to Work in the NHS list examines seven core areas:

  • Leadership and planning
  • Corporate culture and communication
  • Role satisfaction
  • Work environment
  • Relationship with supervisor
  • Training, development and resources
  • Employee engagement and satisfaction

Those top-performing NHS organisations provide a benchmark for staff looking to work in the NHS, and perhaps an incentive to stay or move depending on how a Trust performs.

Rewarding your staff

Our experience working with NHS Trusts focuses on core area #7, employee engagement and satisfaction. Our own surveys of NHS employees using salary sacrifice schemes shows that this is an area that can make a significant difference in whether an employee feels valued: thereby increasing retention rates.

Giving internal awards are a great way to increase engagement and retention. Recognition of the hard work and commitment an employee or a team has contributed goes a long way to making staff feel valued: especially when celebrated publicly.

An award does not cost much but in my view is a great addition to the rewards and benefits strategies your organisation has in place.

Richard Ellis, is marketing and sales director at Connected Benefits

Further reading on awards ceremonies

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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