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Educating Rita (and Ron): Reward Your Workers and Grow Your Business

On the whole employees are human beings, not robots, so they have complex and varied needs. It’s well-established that while the absence of money does make people unhappy, the presence of money doesn’t necessarily make them happy (or at least not for long). Pay rises are nice, but we also have to find ways of rewarding and motivating your employees in a meaningful and long-lasting way, not an easy task in a double-dip recession. Managers have always taken their staff out for the occasional team activity or treat now and again, but over the past few years this has been scaled down from a blow-out weekend away with partners to a more modest meal or coffee and cake. Of course the sweet-toothed members of the team may prefer the latter option! One size doesn’t fit all.

Educating and developing employees can have a strong motivational effect. KFC have recently announced that they’re funding a business management honours degree in conjunction with De Montford University for 60 managers across the country. The Managing Director for the UK, Martin Shuker, says that the KFC degree allows the company to reward its best performers by giving them the opportunity to go to university and gain a meaningful and respected qualification. It believes that such a degree is a first bespoke degree for the fast-food chain industry. KFC proposes to fund half of the course while the manager-students, will continue to work during their studies, will pay the balance of £4,500. Students will attend a number of sessions at the university and the company’s own training courses will also count towards the degree.

KFC is making a big commitment to these employees. The programme will cost around £600,000 to run and the managers won’t achieve their degrees until 2017. But it’s an important statement. Educating employees is an investment. It’s not entirely risk-free, but when it works it gives a considerable return on investment and employees feel valued and that there is long-term reward in remaining with the company. Of course there is always the chance that the investment will be poached or the employee will move on, but there is great potential to create a well-educated, highly effective and loyal group of employees, committed to your business.

Business is changing and business owners need skilled, thoughtful and well-motivated employees. Offering some kind of in-house development programme may hit you two birds with one stone. Not only does the company get the benefit of raised skills and improved confidence, but individual employees will want to put their new skills to use at work.

To reduce the risk of employee drain after an expensive investment in training, you can have a written agreement which is intended to be binding on both parties which requires the employee to stay for a period after the completion of the training or otherwise become liable to make some reimbursement to the company. Provided that this is set out in a reasonable and proportionate fashion, this should be acceptable to the employee and enforceable if it becomes necessary to do so.

Money isn’t everything and people want to develop their skills to enable themselves to make better progress in their company. Rewarding your employees with something that means more than just money is therefore certainly beneficial to all concerned.

Russell HR Consulting provides expert knowledge in HR solutions, employment law training and HR tools and resources to businesses across the UK.

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