What’s the Reward?

Positive recognition in the workplace is great (usually). It means, “They noticed me”, and something that occurred. Recognition can come in many forms including financial incentives, additional leave time and gift certificates. Have you ever heard that the best things in life are free? Well, this holds true with many recognition programs. The freer the better is music to the ears of many companies affected by today’s economic environment. In the fast paced business world, leaders can sometimes forget to stop and say, “Job well done”, to a deserving employee. Rewards as simple as a “thank you” often hold the most meaning for the recipients. It is important to show a team they are performing at or above expectations.

Giving rewards has a few ground rules. First, the reward should be given for doing something above and beyond the normal job duties. Don’t rewards someone for performing satisfactory work or coming to work on time. These should be regular expectations in the workplace. Reward things like completing a project early and under budget, coming up with an efficiency that saves significant time and/or money or superior customer service ratings. In other words, reward the behavior you want to see more of. The reward should not be the reason for the behavior but rather reward an employee’s initiative to exhibit the behavior. If an employee pursues a reward for the reward itself, the work done to achieve the reward can be hollow. The best rewards are those that come from being acknowledged for something that your heart is in.

ideally, knowing what makes your employees tick will give you some great ideas for how to reward them. Employees will respond better to things that are of interest to them. Here are some ideas for low cost or even FREE rewards you could offer.

  • special parking spots
  • acknowledgement in a company newsletter or communication
  • having a reward named after the employee given to other employees who exhibit the same behavior, e.g. The Myra Smith Customer Service Award
  • gift certificates to local restaurants, movie theatres, etc.
  • lunch with a company leader
  • casual dress down days
  • flexible work schedule
  • participation in special training programs
  • company promotional items (SWAG)

Making the reward memorable to the employee and all staff will help reinforce the behavior that prompted the reward. When presenting the reward, be sure to acknowledge the person(s) and what they did to achieve it. This gives a clear message to the entire audience. Regardless of the tangible value of the reward, the intangibles can be priceless.

Don’t forget to CELEBRATE!


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