Pinning down incentives

Roeser's Bakery in Chicago awards staff with "Service Pins" to celebrate their contributions to the bakery.

The loyalty of a company’s staff is possibly one of the most valuable assets for continued success. Whether it’s done with salary increases, bonuses, added vacation time or reserved parking spots, there are countless ways to foster the loyalty of your staff. One way or the other, these are all forms of showing appreciation for an extended period of hard work.

When determining a reward or incentive, it’s not as simple as giving a raise to an employee based entirely on his or her time served with the company. You have to factor in both the time they have dedicated to the company and the quality of their work. The baker in his 30th year at the company may not work half as many hours as the baker in his 25th year, which signals that work ethic and loyalty should both be considered as major factors.

For instance, management at Roeser’s Bakery in Chicago try to evaluate employees based on both time served with the company in addition to the staff member’s performance in their position.

John Roeser, owner of Roeser’s Bakery, says that they designed a very simple, yet highly effective reward program that displays the company’s appreciation for employees. Staff are rewarded with “Service Pins” that celebrate monumental anniversaries with the bakery. For instance, on an employee’s five year anniversary, they are rewarded with a gold pin decorated with a green emerald (matching the bakery’s colors). On the tenth anniversary, he or she is rewarded with a gold pin with two emeralds. The pin is meant to represent the bakery’s appreciation for the time they have dedicated to the success of the company.

Roeser quickly discovered that as many of the employees developed their careers at the bakery, this symbol of recognition became tremendously important to them.

“When somebody’s been with you for 30 years, you have to do something,” Roeser says. “These pins are not extremely costly. They range anywhere from $80 to $150. They’re not cheap, but people truly like that recognition.”

On the other hand, a sales recognition pin is rewarded to staff as well. This pin is acquired solely through hard work and determination. For these pins, the bakery hosts a sales contest . If a staff member wins the contest, they receive a plain pin. On the second win, the employee receives a pin with a sapphire decorated in its center. On the third win, the pin is decorated with two sapphires. The pattern continues as staff members continue to improve their performance.

“There’s a distinction between how a person does their job and how long they’ve been with you. The quality of the job an employee does is the critical issue,” says Roeser.

Roeser advises that if you adopt a similar reward system, it’s critical to make it affordable despite how well your company is doing on any given year. Basically, you shouldn’t celebrate one employee’s fifth anniversary and then not celebrate another employee’s tenth anniversary the following year because of the economy. The anniversary rewards must be a cost factored into every year.