team of employees holding hands in the air
CEO Robert Glazer explains how, in today's competitive professional world, employees are looking past the more traditional benefits towards feelings of fulfillment and value. — Getty Images/Cecilie_Arcurs

This article was contributed to CO— by Robert Glazer, CEO of global performance marketing agency, Acceleration Partners. Glazer and his business have been the recipients of several industry and culture awards, including landing within the Top 5 CEOs for Glassdoor, 2018, and the top 50 of Fortune’s Best Small Workplaces, 2017.

The rules of the business world have changed in recent decades. Employees, especially younger ones, don’t want to feel like a cog in the wheel. More than ever, your employees want fulfilling work with people who care about them as people, not just workers.

In that vein, it’s important to go the extra mile to make your team feel appreciated and valued. This goes beyond the simple rules like paying people fairly and treating them with respect — it also means finding creative ways to reward them for great performance.

While spot bonuses and fun company functions can make employees happier, organizations can find better ways to show their people they are valued. Here are three ideas that are proven to work.

In any organization, leaders should incentivize the behavior they want to see from their teams.

Robert Glazer, CEO, Acceleration Partners


Expert Robert Glazer explains how businesses need to differentiate themselves to attract top talent and keep employees happy. Read on for additional tips for boosting employee retention.

Invest in employees beyond work

Many businesses try to stand out by touting their emphasis on work-life balance. But helping your employees make time for life outside the office doesn’t just make them more satisfied with their work—it will also make them more engaged and productive during office hours.

At our company, Acceleration Partners, we make a concerted effort to invest in our employees’ passions outside of work. This includes offering paid time off to volunteer, matching employee charitable contributions and offering an employee wellness reimbursement.

While these individually seem like small benefits, they show that we care about our team members’ lives beyond work. Not only are people willing to work hard for an organization that makes them feel valued, but their happiness outside of work will lead to better energy and focus during the workday.

Pay your team to go on vacation

In high-stakes industries like finance and tech, working hero hours and never taking a vacation are often framed as sacrifices for the good of the team. But this is counterproductive in the long-term; taking time to unplug from work alleviates burnout and helps employees come back ready to engage, all while giving the opportunity to practice key skills like delegation.

In any organization, leaders should incentivize the behavior they want to see from their teams. With that in mind, our company offers $500 for employees who take at least a week’s vacation and completely unplug from work while they’re away. This shows our employees that we’re serious about wanting them to take time off and allows them to get the recovery time they need to be their best.

You don’t need to limit this thinking to vacations either. If there is a facet of work-life balance you’d like your employees to take advantage of, don’t just give them verbal encouragement. Tying a tangible incentive to this type of behavior makes it clear that you want employees to prioritize their well-being, rather than just paying lip service to it.

 robert glazer headshot
Robert Glazer, CEO of Acceleration Partners. — Robert Glazer

Make an employee’s day — or year

Each year, in advance of our annual AP Summit, we collect a survey of our employees’ top goals for the upcoming year, usually related to our summit theme. For example, our 2018 theme was “Embracing Relationships,” so we asked our employees which relationships they wanted to build or reaffirm in the coming year. This past year, our theme was “Own It,” so we asked our team what they needed to do to take ownership of their lives in 2020.

Based on these submissions, we run a Dream-Granting program where we help fulfill 10-20 of our employees’ most important goals. Ways in which we’ve done this have ranged from giving employees who want to improve their financial security free sessions with a financial planner, helping an employee take a trip to Greece to visit her distant relatives, and even hiring a private investigator to help a team member connect with their long-lost brother.

Instead of just offering year-end bonuses, we use our connections and resources to give several employees a personally fulfilling experience. By doing it in front of the entire company and announcing the program recipients at our annual summit we make the program into an opportunity for our employees to bond and celebrate each other.

Most employees want to work in an environment where they feel valued, and creative incentives and rewards are a great way to show appreciation for your team. Doing this will make your employees and happier and more engaged, and help your business grow without burning your team out.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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