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I was on the phone with a customer earlier today and I mentioned that it had been more than a year since we had last talked about his staff reward and recognition program.

“Yes,” he responded, “I know I need to do something but my biggest challenge at the moment is just finding people to apply to work here.”

There is no doubt it is a tight employment market, which presents new challenges for employers looking to hire; potential recruits are looking for something different, beyond pay and hours. Another entrepreneur once asked me: “How do I make the work week as interesting as the weekend? I feel like I am competing with their lifestyle.”

The question I often pose is, ‘Why do people want to work?’ And ultimately, ‘Why do they want to work for this particular company?’

We surveyed our customers with the question, ‘If the role and salary were similar, why would you choose one company over another?’

Of the 4000 responses: 36% said that they looked for ‘management’s commitment to work/life balance’; another third nominated a ‘formal reward and recognition program’; 12% cited ‘career advancement’; and just 4% said the brand would influence their choice.

Just over half (56%) of Australian companies give farewell gifts to their staff. By then it’s a bit late to be showing people how much they are valued. Interestingly, less than 1% of companies welcome people with a gift (I’m not talking about a uniform here … that is not a gift).

One of our customers recruits a lot of nurses. Whenever they open a new facility they need to employ 100 nurses; it can cost up to $15,000 per new recruit.

Recently they started including a welcome gift in the induction pack for each new employee. It was a pamper voucher worth $500. The company reckons it is the greatest recruitment tool they have ever used.

What do nurses do well? Talk. They love to tell their friends that they have made the best decision going to their new employer, look how well they are being treated already. And then guess what? Other nurses want to work there, too.

The company has achieved so much with this program, it has slashed the cost of attracting people; it is making new employees feel great (literally) about joining them, and demonstrating it is an employer committed to its people. Everyone is happy.

One piece of advice: to have the desired effect, any welcome gift has to be something worth talking about.

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