People go to work for various reasons. The monthly salary helps, the quarterly bonus definitely gives things that extra edge and the daily encouragement from colleagues makes the hard times that little bit bearable. In the give and take of the office, people are generally happy at work when they get something back in return for what they have given.
Not to mention the table tennis, football, gourmet food, free massages and unlimited holidays.
As we enter a period of almost full employment in many developed economies, I feel that we are approaching a state of “peak reward,” but there is a real danger that it could go downhill from here. There are so many perks and benefits that are flying around the corporate world that I have a sneaky suspicion that people are becoming a little spoilt. When you get rewarded for simply walking through the door, the effect gets lost a little.
With advances in technology and the advent of RPA and A.I. software, the next half a century is going to see disruption of the workplace on a huge scale. People from a wide range of professions are going to realise that the “robots” are a very real threat to their jobs, and companies will realise that robots don’t need a table tennis table to keep them engaged. I predict that the rampant culture of extravagant perks will scale down as the next recession comes along (whenever that is), and I am not sure that it will recover to the current scale.
Rewards in the future will come when genuine effort has been made.
This blog is starting to sound a bit pessimistic, but I believe that there are three main reasons why people are happy at work, challenge, recognition & money. Consistently being challenged by the work that they do is never a bad thing. Receiving recognition from clients and most importantly their employer is critical, and earning the right money for extra efforts and sacrifices made. You could be sitting in a pokey little office and still fulfil those two key criteria.
I do my utmost to ensure that our people get the most from these three areas. Working to find the best people for the best clients (we really do work with some amazing organisations) is an easy motivation, and we are a like-minded bunch of “work hard” individuals, so having fun together isn’t too difficult either. I don’t feel a burning compulsion to shower people with perks, but if someone does a great job one month, they will naturally be well rewarded and recognised by all within.
It is only natural to want to retain your best people, so I am sure that reward will play a key part in any organisation’s people strategy, but I suspect that the workplaces of the future will find ways of rewarding those who truly put in a shift (while motivating those who aren’t quite putting in the same effort).
The coming robot challenge will mean that people won’t take their rewards for granted so much. If a piece of software could do their job, they will be a little bit more grateful to have a job in the first place. They might also put in that little bit more extra effort.