CEO and founder of UKFast, Lawrence Jones, discusses the importance of employee motivation, and why the company is supporting Employee Motivation Day on 25th February

UKFast

How important is it in your company for employees to feel motivated?

It’s essential. How can you ever expect your team to want to be the best they can be, and be passionate about what they do, if they are not motivated? Keeping employees motivated is win-win. Your team enjoy their roles and feel satisfied, which is extraordinarily infectious within the team. Ultimately, this leads to each member of staff delivering exceptional levels of customer service and feeling happier in their work.

I truly believe that the culture of employment is changing as a whole. Graduates and young people starting their careers now expect more than just a pay packet and an annual leave allocation – they expect to be engaged and to have fun in their work. If you don’t recognise the importance of introducing fun to the working day, you risk losing your best people, which is obviously going to have a huge impact on your business’s performance

Do you have a rewards and incentive scheme in place for employees?

The schemes, incentives, rewards and engagement practices that we have in place at UKFast are constantly evolving. Whilst Beer Friday and our Town Hall Monday morning meetings have become a staple of the company’s culture, each year we like to keep incentives fresh by offering something new, whether that’s a new Audi, an exclusive trip to Las Vegas or a stay at our own ski hotel and Apres Ski in Verbier, Switzerland.

Underpinning all of this, we also ensure that our teams support each other with positive recognition. A simple thank you can go a long way to motivating employees and colleagues, ensuring that everyone feels happy during the 9 – 5.

Which rewards are particularly well received by your employees?

It’s the development-based extras that are best received. Money only motivates people for a finite period of time, then they become disengaged if you don’t drive them to their next challenge. We invest in training and development to ensure that people always feel that they are moving somewhere, they’re growing and developing. We invest in sports facilities and clubs to allow people to train at lunchtime or after work to make it easier for them to stay fit, healthy and happy as part of a routine. Of course the team also loves the free drinks after work on a Friday and when we book out cinema screens and order a load of pizza!       

What else do you do to motivate employees at UKFast?

We’ve designed our offices to be a fun and pleasant place to spend time. I believe that there aren’t many workplaces like it in the UK. We have a gym on site, we have luxurious breakout spaces where people can go to relax and recharge, and a yoga teacher who comes in twice a week to deliver classes. Table tennis, pool tables and computer games are popular options for breaks too. We built a beach in the car park last summer so the team could cool off in the pool and relax on the deck chairs with an ice cream, and we had an ice rink in our car park for the run up to Christmas 2015. It’s all about keeping things fresh and surprising your employees.

We have had a training centre in Snowdonia for many years now, where we take people to climb up Mount Snowdon, build a raft to get around the lake and do other great outdoor activities to build incredible team spirit. I’ve found that this builds an extraordinary level of confidence in new employees – if you can climb a mountain with your teammates, what else can you achieve?

Do you think Argos for Business’ Employee Motivation Day is a good idea?

Employee Motivation Day is an incredible initiative. For me, it’s a no-brainer that if you have a motivated team around you, your business is significantly more likely to thrive. Of course, there are companies and CEOs who don’t see the bigger picture with this and simply concentrate on their immediate bottom-line, but I wonder if those companies will realise the potential of having a happy and engaged team too late. Research from Argos for Business shows that one in ten employees are more likely to remain at a company in the long term if their work is praised / recognised.

Do you have any top motivational tips?

For us, it is as simple as choosing the right team. Everyone employed at UKFast brings something to the team, whether they are people-orientated, creative or prefer to work independently, and they deserve to be recognised for their ongoing contribution. We’re pleased that Argos for Business’ research shows that 37 per cent or employers take the time to personally thank the individuals that make up a team for doing a good job.

Beyond that, I’d say just try to surprise your team and make their day interesting. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money - in the old days we would take people out for fish and chips for tea.

Do you reward employees for their hard work at Christmas, or throughout the year?

Both. We have a great time at Christmas with cinema bookings, friends and family gatherings and our big team party and trips to the Christmas markets (all paid for by us). But, this should be a year-round focus - great leaders are always looking for great ways to keep their teams engaged.

How do you promote a culture of teamwork?

We try to make sure that lines of communication between teams and management are open and we have a flat management structure, so everyone is comfortable speaking to their manager or a director. This helps us to ensure that everyone feels that they have the same opportunities as anyone else in the business.     

How will you be celebrating Employee Motivation Day 2016?

We will be supporting Employee Motivation Day 2016 via our social media channels – last year we created a motivational video to celebrate the event! I’ll also be writing a blog for our website on employee motivation, and encouraging managers to organise team bonding activities.