Beyoncé tickets, Jamaica trip figure into rewards for small biz owner

When it comes to treating employees for a job well done, many organizations may consider summer Fridays or free lunches as generous perks. However, Krystal Allen takes employee recognition to an entirely different level.

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Allen, CEO and founder of K. Allen Consulting, a global Black-owned firm specializing in DEI training, says research has found that employees—specifically, Gen Z and millennials—are more likely to stay at their jobs if they believe their physical and mental wellness are a management priority.

With that in mind, Allen organizes monthly outings and activities with her staff to generate team building and collaboration and ultimately celebrate employees in a way that promotes their overall wellbeing.

Krystal Allen; Why employee recognition can improve employee wellness
Krystal Allen

This past September, Allen seriously drove home her message, gifting her staff of five with tickets to Beyoncé’s New Orleans Renaissance tour stop. The staff’s video reaction to the tickets went viral. Now, Allen is treating her team to an all-expenses-paid, four-day retreat to Jamaica this winter.

“I’ve been doing staff retreats every year that we’ve been in existence, but the first half of the journey had always been domestic,” she says.” I decided that [Jamaica] would be a great treat and just a form of appreciation to the team.”

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While Beyoncé tickets and trips to the Caribbean undoubtedly sit high on the “perks for performance” meter, employers with larger workforces can leverage a variety of rewards to solidify retention, according to Amanda Webster, chief operating officer of Fund&Grow, which offers a lending program to drive entrepreneurial growth.

Given today’s relatively low unemployment, she says, HR needs to think holistically about what will help them find and keep qualified talent.

“The best way to retain employees is to invest in them on every level,” she says. “Employees obviously care about money; however, that is normally not the lone factor that keeps them in the fold.”

Employee recognition strategies for scale

For one, Webster explains, employees want to have a voice in business processes, be given opportunities to learn and grow on both personal and professional levels and enjoy a positive work environment.

To that end, Fund&Grow hosts events like spirit week, dress “theme” days, employee of the month recognition, employee outings, lunches, birthday and work anniversary celebrations. All of these, she says, can create a fun atmosphere while also emphasizing to employees that their employer values them and their contributions—without stretching budgets too far, which is especially important for larger employers that can’t feasibly reward employees with concert tickets or beach trips.

Webster notes that business leaders should center company culture—and the role of recognition in that—throughout all of their work, and it’s also important to ensure a culture of recognition during the entire employee lifecycle.

Amanda Webster
Amanda Webster

“I would suggest making company culture a serious discussion point during the interview process, the onboarding process and consistently throughout the workplace, for that matter,” Webster says. “Employees should feel excited about the culture.”

When culture prioritizes employee recognition and employee wellness benefits, she says, predicting that 2024 could well be the “year of workplace balance” as employers increasingly look to strengthen employee wellbeing, including through recognition.

“I believe the need for employee assistance programs and wellness programs will become a talking point in 2024 at every manager table,” she says. “Employee health and wellness will be part of more benefits packages, and something that especially the Gen Z generation will demand when considering their options.”

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Tom Starner
Tom Starner is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia who has been covering the human resource space and all of its component processes for over two decades. He can be reached at [email protected].