In today’s competitive landscape, winning customer, and indeed, employee, loyalty becomes ever challenging. Rewards or incentives aren’t so powerful these days: it’s the personal touch amongst the noise of brands vying for our attention that will stand out.

So too, can surprise and delight be powerful when approaching employee engagement. ‘Surprises’ make us feel special and important and ‘delight’ evokes a sense of going the extra mile. Not merely to meet our satisfaction, to be delighted can bring about a mindset shift.

Delivering elements of surprise and delight in a genuine way is not easy. Though the objective should be value-, and not budget-driven, the balance of the right approach at the right time, and delivered in the right way can be tricky.

The delicate formula comprises of some, or all of the following:

Personal

Evoking a sense of feeling special will involve different things to different people. What is unexpected and pleasant to someone can be deeply subjective. Get to know your employees, what are their passions, what do they enjoy? The opportunity to spend half a day volunteering at a local charity may appeal to some, a mentoring session with a leader within your business may be more of value to another.

Timely

Timing is everything. For example, a welcome message and hamper when on-boarding a new employee on signing the contract could be a lovely, and unexpected surprise to reaffirm their decision to accept the role.

Authentic

To surprise and/or delight is a genuine opportunity to show appreciation for an individual within your business. The need for the act to be relevant at the time and for the person is key to achieving the desired effect.

No agenda

The desire to surprise and delight should come with no strings attached. Any performance incentives, or other motivations should be separate and form a different strategy to surprise and delight elements.