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Recruiting Procurement talent is challenging and all-important, but retaining hires and keeping them engaged is often even more important and even more challenging. Incentives and benefits are a great start, but many organizations struggle to find an appropriate balance between over-the-top perks like unlimited vacation days and more traditional options like a good 401k. The right direction will differ for each company, but these tips should help everyone get a better understanding of how their employee benefits programs stack up.

Encourage A Good Work-Life Balance 
A manageable balance between work and life reduces stress and absenteeism in the workplace. Inc. recently reported that workers who feel positively about their workload will perform 21% more effectively than their more unhappy counterparts. There are a number of incentives companies can offer that will encourage a better work-life balance. These might include introducing a work-from-home policy that allows employees to function remotely on a regular basis. Inc. goes on to explain that working remotely improves both satisfaction and performance. You might also consider providing employees the opportunity (within reason) to create their own office hours.

Anne Hayden, MRINetwork's VP of Human Resources remarks, "Once a novelty, flexible and remote work options have become the norm in many workplaces." She continues, "Data has demonstrated that providing the means to create a positive work-life balance can increase engagement as well as output." These opportunities and incentives are also shown to improve employee retention. This, in turn, reduces the amount of time and effort an organization needs to reserve for hiring and recruiting new talent.

Establish Incentive Programs
Everyone wants to see their hard work acknowledged. Procurement managers should make honest, consistent efforts to recognize jobs well done and continued success. According to the American Marketing Association, recognizing employees for their productivity and innovation will promote engagement, motivation, and productivity.

"When praise is organic and genuine, employees are much more likely to feel connected to the work that they do and thus, continue to remain engaged," adds Hayden. "Going beyond verbal recognition, other forms of compensation for hard work can help drive success." Competitive compensation, for example, can keep teams and individuals on their toes and promote better performance.

Leverage 'Bonus' Perks
Driving employee engagement and improving morale is as simple as implementing low-cost bonus perks. If you're worried catered lunches or happy hours might break the bank, consider smaller perks like flexible hours, fresh fruit and vegetables, or game rooms. At their best, these incentives will promote social connections among your Procurement team and build a sense of camaraderie moving forward.

"Employee perks can at first appear to be bait on the hook - purely there to catch the biggest fish," writes Alex Holderness of the The StartUp. "But the truth is that a well-designed employee perk package can help the employer day-to-day as well."

If nothing else, small perks could mean more smiling faces around the office. A happy employee, one who truly has fun at the office, is far more likely to feel connected to their employer, its goals, and its vision. Even something as small as donuts in the break room can go a long way toward making your Procurement team feel valued and engaged.

Driven, satisfied employees will work wonders for your organization's brand. They'll take to social media to sing the praises of your workplace and its culture. As ambassadors, they'll attract new talent and continually make positive contributions to office morale. "Big changes start with small adjustments," concludes Hayden. "Start improving your day-to-day workplace policies today."

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