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Valuing your care team: bonuses vs incentives

Mark Topps talks about how you can recognise the achievements of your carers, from compensation packages and life-work balance to peer-to-peer awards.

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Mark Topps
Mark Topps
Regional Business Manager
Published on:
18/2/2022
· Last Edited On:
9/6/2022
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8-minute read

We heard from the Welsh government last week that care workers in Wales will receive a £1,000 bonus from April. This is to help support the recruitment and retention of their workforce and to show a commitment to encouraging more people to consider a career in care. The Irish, Scottish and Welsh governments have already given one bonus to care staff during the pandemic, however, Wales is leading the way with the second one for around 53,000 care staff.

However, this second bonus doesn’t include cleaners and care home chefs, leaving care leaders and the public asking ‘why?’. I must admit, as soon as I saw this, I thought “These team members have spent the last two years ensuring services are clean and hygienic.” After all, they’ve played a vital role in ensuring people have been kept safe and there’s nothing else to it.

But it got me thinking.

How can we recognise teams and show them that they’re valued? We can all appreciate that financial incentives are welcomed but aren’t always the perfect solution, especially when funds are tight. So, what else can be done?

Ways to recognise and appreciate your carers

Give a great life-work balance

I’ve always used the term ‘work-life balance’ until I met someone who told me that life is short and we should work to live, not the other way around.

We all aspire to have a better balance between our working roles and our personal lives, and if you can offer this to your staff, you’ll be strides ahead of your competition. There are some simple wins for improving this balance, some of which include:

  • Asking staff what shift patterns or days they’d prefer to work if they had the choice, then trying your best to make this a reality. I saw a significant decrease in absence levels by doing this!
  • Approving as many annual leave requests as possible and allowing staff to swap shifts or help their colleagues. I’d recommend keeping any declined requests to one side just in case another team member is able to cover or any approved leave is subsequently cancelled.
  • Ensuring rotas are completed and shared with the team in advance so they all know what they’re going to be working. Try doing these at least two months in advance.
  • Striving to give people more than two days off in a row.
  • Ensuring regular breaks are taken.
  • Ensuring people aren’t overloaded.

There are definitely many more that could be added to this list, so I’d recommend speaking to your teams to best understand how you can improve their life-work balance.

Offer compensation packages

Providing more than the standard annual leave and pension schemes will definitely make your team members feel more valued.

Some simple ideas you can implement are:

  • Giving parents a day’s leave for their child’s first day of school (if this could be paid, it would be even better!)
  • Giving birthdays off
  • Providing an enhanced annual leave entitlement or one that increases with length of service
  • Introducing health and wellness benefits, such as private healthcare.
  • Providing performance-related pay
  • Allowing flexible working
  • Paying mileage (for domiciliary care)
  • Introducing a cycle to work scheme.

Celebrate achievements, milestones and events

You don’t have to spend a fortune doing this. A simple personalised card or letter can go a long way and you could do this for work anniversaries, birthdays, Christmas, Easter, qualifications, passing probations etc.

Try doing a team bonding session. Ask your team can come up with suggestions, ideas and make them optional. Whatever you do, make sure there’s something for everyone and schedule events on different days and times so staff have a chance to attend around their personal commitments.

"Financial incentives only go some way to making people feel valued."

Implement an employee recognition system

I’d recommend rolling out a peer-to-peer award, over a classic employee of the month scheme. This lets staff nominate their colleagues and whoever has the greatest number of nominations wins.

Provide learning and development

It’s so important to offer learning and development opportunities for your teams. You might find somebody who is less engaged, but that’s not a problem! Find out what personal goals they have that you could potentially support them with, like driving lessons, music lessons etc.

Think outside the box and invest in the person, you never know, the new skills your team learn could benefit the people you’re supporting in the long run too.

Upskill and hire from within

Being transparent about upskilling staff and how they can be promoted, is a great way to recognise talent. A career pathway allows your teams to advance within their roles, keeps retention levels low and produces a steady supply of qualified workers. It’s a win-win!

Make time, ask for feedback and act on it

Have an open-door policy where people can come speak to you. You’ll be surprised at the difference it will make!

Regularly seek feedback, either in person, through surveys or using an anonymous suggestion box. Implementing their ideas will show your team that you take their opinions and thoughts seriously and they feel like they have a say in their workplace.

So, flash the cash or give other incentives?

The smallest of things can go a long way. Financial incentives are lovely but only go some way to making people feel valued and recognised. Developing a family-feel workforce that puts your team at the heart will go much further than a corporate approach where people may not feel listened to or valued.

If we’ve learnt one thing from the Welsh government’s announcement, it’s that you can’t leave anybody out. If you recognise one team member and not another, morale will drop like a lead balloon.

Most importantly, ask your team what would make them feel valued. The same approach won’t work for everybody, so being agile and changing your approach will definitely put you on top!

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