Making Employees Happier. Can Reward Improve Wellness in The Workplace?
Employee reward is a fascinating subject. Since the concept of employment began, organisations and groups have been figuring out the best way to persuade other people to do things for them by offering “rewards”, the employer/employee contract of work being based on this simple exchange.
There are many philosophies on how best to reward employees, with “cash being king” in most cases. The concept of cash is the preferable reward mechanism as it is simple to understand and provides the best bargaining tool for individuals to exchange for other things that they may need, such as clothes, a warm home, food and entertainment. Thus, cash fulfills many of the basic necessities in our human world.
One of the problems with cash, however, is that it doesn’t always lead to happiness. Using cash to become happier relies on individuals knowing what they need, or want, and making some very specific choices regarding how to spend their well-earned money. In the world of media and advertising pressures, this is easier said than done. Quite often wrong choices are made by individuals, with money being used up for things that are not required – human nature at its best! Guidance is therefore needed as to how to spend the cash given to a worker in order to enhance their happiness, and this is where the link between reward and wellness starts to come into play.
Wellness is based on happiness and health, and as the old saying goes, “money can’t buy either”. So, how can employers increase employees’ wellness without throwing more cash at them and hoping that it is spent on ways to become healthier and happier? Luckily, there are other things that employers can do that make employees feel good, and valued. Again human nature prevails. The best reward strategies involve making people feel good. This could be by making them feel protected (via offering private medical insurance and life assurance); by making them feel free and able to express themselves as individuals (via offering flexible working or not imposing certain rules around dress or behaviours); or by making employees feel important (via empowering them through education and knowledge or giving people certain job titles which play to their egos!)
Many of these strategies are free, or cost very little when purchased for a large group of people. Some carry tax incentives as well. Think about life assurance, for example. The cost per person of insuring a group of people can be quite small compared to the cost of each person going out to buy insurance themselves. The sense of security provided by an employer to an individual by guaranteeing to pay their mortgage and protect their family in the event that something happens to them, however, is huge – even priceless to that person. A fair trade off for both parties.
Life assurance is an old tool in the kit bag of reward, and with the advances of technology more products are becoming available to enhance our feel good factor at work. Trading on the theory that knowledge empowers, education has always been a useful way to increase wellness, and the advent of artificial intelligence teamed with increased choices available to individuals when it comes to pensions and financial planning has seen some innovative and interesting developments in what employers are offering to their staff.
Fahd Rachidy, founder of ABAKA, is just one of many individuals using new technology to achieve a feel good factor at work, in this case empowering people through pensions education.
Rachidy says “Today we live in a Brave New World, and the pensions industry must adapt to a new paradigm. Gone are the days of the pension platforms being boring, with static information only services for a one size fits all solution, and with no guidance for members. Pensions platforms of the future must be interactive, innovative, able to customise solutions and grow with the customers own understanding and knowledge levels by providing timely guidance and nudging. We need to Engage, Educate and Empower members through excellent communication platforms for employees, with a focus on improving people’s financial wellbeing. This is why we have built ABAKA! ABAKA is an Intelligent Workplace Savings Platform directly helping employees to better save, make intelligent and educated decisions with their savings and enjoy their financial wellness at work. We are enabling pension providers to directly engage and communicate with employees in a very intuitive and effective way, and to better understand and serve their customers. ABAKA offers a unique digital access to employees and a truly innovative way to converse with them, using Artificial Intelligence”
So with employers now being able to offer a cost effective “virtual friend” to answer questions about pensions, who knows what else is possible! Using reward to cleverly enhance wellness can therefore work very successfully, and maybe the days of cash being king are numbered.