An Alternative to Traditional Rewards and Recognition

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Most leaders understand that reward and recognition play an essential role in employee satisfaction. Curiously, these words, which we pair in our speech, are often disconnected in practice. If the primary examples that come to mind for you are the “battlefield promotion” or the “Dundies” from The Office, keep reading to see examples of an alternative.

Generally, rewards are associated with financial compensation and promotion, while recognition is associated with public displays of gratitude or awards. We tend to think that compensation is a private matter and recognition is a public one.

Why is employee reward and recognition important?

As a refresher, valuing and praising employee performance drives positive benefits in 4 key ways.

  • Productivity – 90% of employees who feel valued report feeling motivated to do more for their employer
  • Loyalty – Reward strategies create an emotional bond between employee and company
  • Retention – When employees rate their company culture as one that recognizes employees, retention rates can be 3x the baseline.
  • Employee Satisfaction – Higher morale translates to more positive customer experiences and brand building

For more on this topic, check out this link to The HR Digest.

Why isn’t employee recognition a priority?

Every organization is different, but in our experience, we see leaders fail to prioritize rewards and recognition for three main reasons.

  • A reactive culture of problem-solving. Evident when
    • Promotions happen only out of necessity
    • Financial compensation changes occur exclusively on an annual calendar
    • New roles are created after customers indicate there is a problem to be solved
  • Concerns about raising employee expectations. Evident when
    • Managers fear praise will lead to requests for raises
    • Managers fear recognizing one employee will upset others
    • Managers fear positive performance discussions performance will reveal to employees how valuable they may be to another employer
  • A lack of objective performance standards. Evident when
    • Employee goals – and subsequent evaluations – are vague
    • Employee titles are confusing or contradictory, e.g., Managers without direct reports)
    • Job descriptions don’t capture the actual responsibilities of a position

An Alternative Reward and Recognition Strategy

American business consultant Peter Drucker famously stated, “What gets measured gets managed.” Psychologists contend that leaders should “Reward the behavior you want to be repeated.” (Attribution – we found numerous references to Larry Winget for this particular phrase).

Put these two together, and the result is something like “Measure the behavior you want to be repeated.”

We recommend making the process of understanding your best employees a regular event, with public recognition and financial rewards for selection and participation. Imagine the positive impacts on Productivity, Loyalty, Retention, and Satisfaction if every employee knew that your company

  • Recognizes its best team members for exceptional performance in their duties at an annual event
  • Invests time and money in a deeper understanding of precisely how each selected employee achieved excellence in their role
  • Shares those best practices with their peers to help them succeed through a formal knowledge transfer process
  • Compensates those recognized for their active participation in the knowledge sharing process

Contact us to learn more about how to structure such a program within your organization. In our experience learning and sharing our clients’ best practices, 100% of employees say they feel recognized, validated, and appreciated by participating in our programs. In addition, they acknowledge the investment by their employer in them with gratitude.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic and suggestions above. Reach out to us by any of the links on our Connect page.

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