Employee Recognition – What Makes a Good Reward?

I would like to pass a long an article on “what makes a good reward”.

A good reward should…

… link personal contribution to the company progress in a way that is SMART:

Sincere.
Above all else, a good reward should reflect a genuine expression of appreciation. Token acknowledgements leave something to be desired.

Meaningful.
To endure a motivating influence, rewards should be aligned with the values, goals, and priorities that matter the most.

Adaptable.
The diverse workplace demands alternatives. Consider creative options to keep your program fresh. No single reward format works for everyone all the time.

Relevant.
Some personal dimension is essential to a good reward. No matter how formal or informal, expensive or affordable, the relevance of any recognition will be improved with a personal touch–it’s a little thing that makes a big difference.

Timely.
It is important that rewards respond to the behavior they are intending to reinforce. Don’t let too much time pass or the reward will be devalued and credibility eroded.

Finally, when announcing and presenting awards, take the time and effort to do it right. Doing so will enhance the credibility of the process, make an impression and unlock the emotional commitments that should continue to pay dividends long after the occasion has passed.

Tangible rewards come in all shapes and sizes. Whether the cost is high or insignificant, the reward should be memorable and perceived as valuable to the recipient. Money is nice, but it tends to be spent quickly and then forgotten. I believe that the best rewards are those that have a symbolic significance that fits within an organization’s culture.

For instance, Trinity Services, a non-for-profit agency serving people with disabilities, has introduced a frog mascot, Lillie Leapit, into its culture which encourages employees to “leap ahead.” A variety of rewards, low in cost, but sporting a leaping frog, have been given for specific performances.

“The employees have come to relate more enthusiastically to the frog logo than to the agency logo of three diamonds. Each time they see or use the item, it reminds them once again that they successfully took another giant leap.” Debbie Gustafson, Directory Employee Services, Trinity Services, Inc.

Rewards are most motivating when they are
Immediate,
Frequent,
Based on clearly communicated criteria,
Directly reinforcing of desired behavior or performance,
Special,
Valued by the recipient, and
Provided by someone of significance to the recipient.

In practice, rewards tend to be:
Late or overlooked altogether,
Infrequent,
Arbitrary or Inconsistent,
Provided to everyone who happens to be present,
Routine and Ordinary,
Not valued by the recipient or valued primarily by the provider, and
Provided impersonally or without a presentation at all.

“The difference between theory and practice determines the effectiveness of the reward.” Bob Nelson, president of Nelson Motivation, Inc., is the author of “1001 Ways to Reward Employees” and “1001 Ways to Energize Employees.”

by Jim Brintnall, Brand Strategy & Product Development at Successories, Inc.,
Debbie Gustafson, Trinity Services, Inc.,
Bob Nelson, Nelson Motivation, Inc.
“Recognition News”, Volume 2, Issue 2