Motivating employees: don’t spend big, think smart

The idea was to celebrate the contribution made by those who keep invoices processed, expenses paid and laptops working. To do this, consultants in KPMG UK nominated their ‘unsung heroes’ who had gone above and beyond what’s expected of them every day for prizes of paid leave and holiday vouchers. 

It may seem like a just another straightforward recognition scheme, but there is a lot to learn from the way KPMG has gone about things here.

The first is isolating and confronting a problem: its fee earners may generate the money but the people behind the scenes are critical to them being able to do their jobs. Nearly every organisation I know has this kind of problem where one part of the business underestimates the contribution made by another — few go so far as doing something about it.

The second element I like is not just that this is dedicated recognition programme that sends a signal to the support services team but one that it is driven by the engagement of fee earners. This not only sends a strong message of “we value you” to these employees from the organisation but an equally strong message to the fee earners around to reflect on how their contribution supports their work (not just the other way around).

The third strength of the programme is the fact that the final winners are decided not by patronage from line managers or evaluation of nominations but a simple raffle. What better way to generate excitement, talkability and a sense that everyone has a chance of winning.

Of course, the success of the scheme is helped by a high-value prize, but the last thing to reflect on is that it really is a scheme built around employee recognition rather than simply giving a spot reward for a specific behaviour or job well done.

I’m sure this programme will have taken a lot of time and planning for KPMG to execute but it goes to show that when it comes to creating recognition schemes that work effectively, the best investment is time and commitment from the business rather a focus on the reward.

Andy Philpott is sales and marketing director at Edenred. You can find more employee benefits blogs and insight at