Most common rewards and recognition mistakes

  • Created Date27 Feb, 2018
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Rewards and recognition schemes of organizations are meant to celebrate the efforts and achievements of the staff and make the employees feel valued. Certainly, the vast majority of corporations use some sort of program intended to motivate employees by tying compensation to one index of performance or another. In fact, it is difficult to overstate the extent to which most managers believe in the redemptive power of rewards: increased productivity, a happier and more loyal staff, lower turnover, and even reduced sick days and employee theft, to name a few. But one unusual issue, which needs a mention here, is the rare assessment of the belief that is rewards and recognition scheme working?

If you’re like most business owners and managers, you probably offer your employees bonuses at the end of the year to reward their hard work. You might also have an Employee of the Month program where you celebrate your best worker — or even an Employee Appreciation Day where you celebrate your entire team. Maybe you send out group emails to congratulate individuals on a job well done. But are these methods effective?

The answer is while these more common types of formal employee recognition programs can help motivate your team, they often fail to achieve the results they are intended to. Here’s why: 

No Clear Goals

The findings suggest that the failure of any given incentive program is due less to a glitch in that program than to the inadequacy of the psychological assumptions that ground all such plans.

When you ask- do rewards work? The reply depends on what we understand by “work.” Study suggests that, by and large, rewards & recognition succeed at securing one thing only: temporary compliance. They do not create a lasting commitment to any value or action. They merely, and temporarily, change what we do.

Effective management is all about setting clear expectations. In this respect, it’s best to treat employees like little children: make goals and expectations extremely simple and transparent. The more clearly you outline the behaviors you want to see, the more likely your employees will reach those goals. To gauge the success of your efforts, you can look at whether employee retention rates improve after you enact your recognition program.

People Get Left out

Awarding an employee for the contributions they make is crucial, but rewarding only one employee for their sterling contributions is one big mistake. By singling out and rewarding one employee as an achiever, you’re subtly implying that others who weren’t recognized aren’t achievers. This can be worse for engagement than having no awards at all. On the other hand, awarding a team for their work fails to recognize each member’s individual contributions. So how do you avoid these pitfalls?

Increasing the volume of the recognition given to your organization and spending time in understanding your employees, can improve employee’s experience.

The Timing Isn’t Optimal

Recognition is most effective when it’s given in the moment when the behavior, achievement, or contribution is still top-of-mind. Rewarding your employee, a year after the fact makes some impact, but it fails to make any positive impact throughout the weeks and months between the contribution and its award. Also, on the other end, if you give your employees free lattes and bagels every Friday, excitement turns to expectation. If you save the reward for a Friday when employees have reached an important milestone or overcome a difficult obstacle, the prize becomes much more significant and effective. People are happier and more fulfilled when they earn their rewards – make the prize an achievement, not a gift.

Management Doesn’t Ask For Feedback

Imagine you have immediately put an employee recognition scheme in place — great job! But what if your employees aren’t interested in the incentives you’re offering, there’s a good chance your employee recognition program won’t work. Employee recognition programs are designed to motivate employees and keep them engaged. Since that’s the case, what better way is there to build a successful program than by asking employees what, precisely, motivates them? If you want to set your recognition program as own, that’s fine. Just be sure to seek feedback from your HR from time to time to improve it.

They Aren’t Meaningful.

If it’s not effectively expressing recognition for an employee’s contributions to an organization, keeping them on staff, or motivating them, what can you actually do with an employee of the month award? Depending on its construction, it could be a useful paperweight or a great way to fill an otherwise empty spot on the wall.

It’s crucial for any recognition award to provide a true sense of value or meaning. That value doesn’t need to be monetary, but any award that doesn’t will only become disregarded desk clutter. Think about ways you can recognize great work, and provide meaningful rewards for it.

So, what should you do next?

Although the old style of recognition awards may be a relic, there are a number of ways you can modernize your employee recognition program, and make it more effective.  Now you can start analyzing for any of these rewards and recognition mistakes, and improving those basics in meaningful ways with the help of today. It’s time your leaders and managers get recognition right!