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Incentivise staff by focusing on the positive

“How can we learn from our best performers?” is one of five key questions which can open up new avenues to improve performance and profitability, according to Sarah Lewis.

The managing director of psychological consultancy firm Appreciating Change said that an emphasis on minimising the impact of bad performers was often to the detriment of acknowledging and disseminating good practices.

The second question business bosses should consider is whether a savings process is actually costing their company money.

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Ms Lewis said: “When people or organisations focus on areas where savings might lie, and start to implement processes to realise those savings, they don’t always account for the hidden costs of administering the process or achieving compliance.

“For example, insisting that all requests for housing repairs are submitted to be assessed and approved by a manager might seem a good cost control idea. However as some housing associations have realised, the hidden costs of bureaucracy and close scrutiny can be greater than the cost of many minor repairs.”

Thirdly, business bosses should consider how they incentivise members of staff to ensure that good initiative is rewarded, and malpractice discouraged.

The fourth question explores how the workplace environment can be used to cultivate productivity, while the fifth delves into how employers can help employees spend more time doing things they enjoy and less time on tasks they dread.

Ms Lewis said: “The high cost of trying to get people to do things for which they have no aptitude, and even less liking is not always apparent to people. First, when people have little aptitude for a part of their role, the return on investment of trying to train them in it can be invisible.

“Second, even the most conscientious of people will be drawn towards putting off those parts of their job they dread, while the less driven find endless ways not to be in a position to do the hated deed. In this way we can lose sight of the bigger picture which is just that a particular outcome needs to be achieved; not necessarily in this way, not necessarily by this person. In other words, sometimes we would be better off stepping back and asking: ‘Who would be better suited to this task?’ or ‘How else can we achieve this objective?’”

Adviser view

Stefan Fura, director at Leicestershire-based Furnley House, said: “We have done a lot of work on incentivising staff in our business. We have recorded strong performance over the past 12 months and have been looking to reward our network of support staff for their hard work over this period. We sat them down in the room and said to them that they could choose from five days’ extra holiday, an incremental pay rise or a slight increase in pension contributions. Most have families so they opted for the holiday option.

“You have to ensure that you are rewarding a person for going above and beyond, rather than just simply paying them for doing their job.”