From personalised, flexible benefits and facing money issues head on, to Don Draper and baby goats – engagement and rewards come in all shapes and sizes.

This morning Hibob hosted our last UK meet up of the year on the ever important topic of employee engagement and rewards, at one of our favourite venues the Shoreditch tree house

We partnered with our friends at Jolt to delve into the importance and effects of employee engagement, and explored a variety of potential employee rewards for all organisations. 

Taking the first keynote spot was the highly impressive Emy Rumble-Mettle, from Being Human. With 20 years experience in HR and engagement from mega brands to start ups, Emy took us on the full engagement cycle from board level to employee satisfaction. 

A particularly interesting question that came from Emy was to think about some of the most creative/quirky perks that you have seen businesses offering and consider what value these are really adding to an employees life. If you have a junior employee struggling for cash, do they actually need to pet a baby goat (more on that later) or do they actually need a pay rise?

A quick summary doesn’t really do Emy’s thoughtful and interactive presentation justice, but if I was pushed to pull out the key takeaways, they would be:

  • Be people focused, not profit focused. Make sure you aren’t spending money on ‘rewards’ that don’t make a difference, instead of using those funds to increase pay where it is needed 
  • Inclusive rewards encourage engagement. Ensure you have the right people in the room when you are deciding on benefits and recognition programmes. It can’t just be top level managers – it needs to be organisational influencers and range of representatives 
  • Look at the why, not just the what. Understanding the root causes behind a person or a team becoming disengaged is the only way to fix the flaw. Focusing on ‘what can we give them’ just papers over the cracks 
  • Put money on the table. If your pulse/climate surveys are always telling you that people want more money – you have to listen. If it isn’t possible to give pay rises – say so. Don’t shy away from it. But if money isn’t the driving force behind acquiring and retaining your employees, be clear about what it. ‘We might not pay the highest rates – but here is what we do instead…’
  • Change management is fundamental. Alongside people, tech (specifically the right HRIS) and data, rolling out new systems and benefits in the right way is fundamental to success 

After a quick coffee break, we handed the baton to Tal Shmueli, VP at Jolt.
It was particularly interesting to hear Tal’s personal story, he was very open about the fact that education, in its traditional sense, wasn’t really for him and when he eventually landed his dream job at LinkedIn – he surprised himself by starting to think about different opportunities from quite early on. To quote Tal, quoting Don Draper:

‘The day you win a client, is the day you start to lose that client’ 
And the same can be said for employees (Don Draper didn’t say this bit – this was Tal)

This got the room thinking about two things straight away:

  1. Should we be thinking about client engagement as much as we think about employee engagement?
  2. Should we be trying to fight against a lack of engagement – or just embrace a transitional workforce?

Tal went on to share his personal experiences with employee engagement and how, during his time at LinkedIn, he saw the rationale behind choosing to acknowledge – from day one – that employees will leave. So focus on making the most out of the time you have with each employee in your organisation – preparing them for the next step in their career and harnessing their value, during the time they are with you.

Tal’s key takeaways were:

  • People describe work as ‘busy’ not ‘engaging’. Tal humorously reminded us that we all answer the ‘how’s work’ question with ‘busy’ and never ‘engaging’. This should serve as a reminder to look at the reasons your organisation is having conversations around employee engagement and ensure you are acting in a way that will really matter
  • Chocolate beats broccoli every time. When offered a choice between broccoli and chocolate – chocolate always wins, even though we know we should take the broccoli! Make sure you are offering rewards and perks that your employees actually want – not what you think they should have 
  • Learning and development is a reward in itself. With 40 year jobs being a thing of the past and most Millennial and Gen Z-ers expected to have at least 15-20 jobs in their lifetime, learning new skills and personal development can be a life changing reward to offer 
  • The best tech and rewards a business can have – is the tech and rewards people actually use. It doesn’t matter how much time or money you invest in your rewards programme, if people aren’t using them – they aren’t working. Ensure you understand your workforce and link your rewards to their wants/needs
  • Baby goats are always great! LinkedIn once arranged for a petting zoo, complete with baby goat,  to visit their office – which Tal got to experience. Creating a lifelong memory/unique experience is both bonding for your team, rewarding for your employees and amazing for your employer brand!

A huge thank you to both Emy and Tal for such enjoyable insights and learnings this morning. And as always, thank you so much to of our HR, Talent and Culture community, who make these events so rewarding. 

See you in 2020!


From Katie O'Leary

Katie Heads up the UK Marketing at Hibob and has been working in B2B Marketing for both start up and corporate brands over the last 12 years. Katie is a firm believer in using creativity and communication to get brands noticed and champions great marketing as an essential part of the business strategy.