Spotlight on… winning the lottery

For some HR professionals, the familiar lottery slogan ‘It could be you’ pops up more often than expected.

There are more and more stories of people who want to carry on working after they’ve won the lottery – and it is up to HR to consider how to deal with staff with new-found riches.

Supermarket sweep

Hitting the headlines most recently was a case involving 10 Tesco workers who each scooped a £750,000 share of an overall £7.5m win. All 10 have decided to continue working.

“I can’t speak for the winners, but I think a large part of wanting to return to work is a desire to return to an extent of normality,” says a spokeswoman for Tesco.

The fact that the employees have chosen to stay on, she adds, shows that a job can be worth much more to an individual than a salary.

Other recent examples include Mary Jones from Denbighshire, who said she had no intention of giving up her cleaning job when she won the jackpot. And at Royal Mail, almost all staff in two separate winning syndicates stayed in their jobs.

So how can HR keep lottery winners – or indeed anyone who comes into a windfall, whether via inheritance, marriage or any other means – motivated and loyal? Tesco believes the answer lies in treating every member of staff as a valued individual, citing examples of flexible working opportunities and an emphasis on career development.

Mike Emmott, employee relations adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), agrees. “It comes down to all the things that HR should be thinking about anyway – support, recognition, fair treatment, giving everyone a chance to contribute, and listening to your employees.”

Work and self esteem

The CIPD conducted a survey a few years ago, asking people whether they would still work if they won the lottery, and a significant percentage said yes. Work is crucial to an individual’s self-esteem and gives life structure, adds Emmott.

Staff at the Alliance & Leicester bank clearly agree. A group of lottery winners invited their director to attend the presentation of their cheque and join in the celebrations.

Loaded question

While Tesco is adamant that its lottery winners won’t be treated differently to any other member of staff, Carol Dempsey, a reward partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, believes there should be exceptions to this rule.

“I think we should acknowledge that people are motivated by different things and accept that money can be significant,” she says.

“If you have a lottery winner who previously took a particular job because they needed the money, it makes sense for HR to find them a role that pays slightly less, but that they would enjoy more,” Dempsey adds.

Kerching!!! Holding on to big winners

  • If you want to hold on to staff who win the lottery, think carefully about overall employee engagement.

  • If you treat a lottery winner differently to any other member of staff, be sure there’s a good reason for it and communicate this.

  • Don’t get involved with jealousy among colleagues as a result of the win. This is for individuals to sort out among themselves.

By Kate Hilpern

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