Employee reward & recognition program

By Matt Williamson
Info Guru,

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employee receiving a gift
The most basic need for managers and employees alike is to be appreciated
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Does your company have an employee reward and recognition program?

Many organizations fail to recognize their employees and do not realize that is an important key to success. What type of employee reward and recognition program should you have? So much depends on the size of your company.

Informal Rewards: Recognition Can Be Spontaneous An Informal or spontaneous employee reward and recognition program can be implemented with minimum planning and effort by almost any manager. Five motivating techniques are: personally congratulating employees who do a good job; writing personal notes about good performance; using performance as the basis for promotion; publicly recognizing employees for good performance; and holding morale-building meetings to celebrate successes

Informal rewards make more of a positive impact with employees and are cost effective. According to the "People, Performance and Pay" study by Houston, Texas-based American Productivity Center and the American Compensatory Association, it generally takes five to eight percent of an employee's salary to change behavior if the reward is cash and approximately four percent of the employee's salary if the reward is non-cash.

Awards for Specific Achievements: Establishing Incentive Programs Many companies tailor rewards to specific achievements or behaviors. Most of these rewards recognize such achievements as cost-saving suggestions, exceptional customer service and the attainment of sales goals.

Many companies tailor rewards to specific achievements or behaviors. Most of these rewards recognize such achievements as cost-saving suggestions, exceptional customer service and the attainment of sales goals. These practices have become commonplace throughout all industries in organizations that are serious about obtaining the highest productivity and performance possible.

holding individuals accountable for quality and output; tying wages and bonuses directly to quality and output; staffing departments exactly to cut absenteeism and emphasize the importance of each employees job; and maintaining the fewest possible layers of management.

Formal Rewards: Recognizing Achievements Outside the Company While studies show that formal rewards programs are not as motivating to individual employees as more specific, personal forms of recognition, formal programs still can be very valuable to companies. Such programs are useful for formally acknowledging significant accomplishments, especially as they span a long period. Formal rewards also can lend credibility to more spontaneous, informal rewards used daily by managers in an organization.

What can organizations do to make a formal employee reward and recognition program work for them? One way is to reward learning. This practice rewards employees by encouraging them to seek additional responsibilities. Research also shows that employees appreciate companies that value their efforts in supporting charities and local government.

An Employee of the Month is probably the most popular form of an employee reward an recognition program in business today. Although they are, for the most part, good faith efforts by management to increase recognition, they may create more problems than they solve. According to some "experts" in the field, many managers naively believe that EOM programs cause poor performers to try harder. While they may try a little harder at first, if they don't get the award within a couple of months, not only will they stop trying to get it, but the whole idea will also become very negative to them.

The real problem with EOM as an employee reward and recognition program is that one person's success creates another person's failure, and if the award is truly desirable, it creates destructive internal competition. These programs ultimately become a "pass around." Eventually everyone gets it. This breaks any connection between performance and reward so that employees know that all they really have to do is to wait long enough and they will eventually get it.

According to Aubrey C. Daniels, Ph.D., founder and CEO of management consulting firm Aubrey Daniels&Associates (ADA), EOM violates every known principle of effective positive reinforcement. It is not specific. People don't know what they did to get it. It is not immediate. The behavior that earned it could have occurred over a month ago and may no longer be occurring. It is not contingent on high performance. The award can be given even if everyone is performing poorly. There will still be a best performer. It is not frequent. Since only one person gets it a month, there are only 12 occasions in a year to recognize good performance. Your employee reward and recognition program should offer positive reinforcement on a daily basis.

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