Rewarding your Employees: Why and How It Should Be Done

Thousands of studies about the workplace have shown what should have been obvious – an employee who feels appreciated is more productive.  Recognizing and rewarding employees is good for morale and good for business.

Employees who feel valued have a more positive attitude about themselves and their contributions to the organization.  Their work will reflect this as they will be more engaged and involved.  Companies that regularly thank employees for their performance far outperform those that do not.

Employee recognition efforts often backfire.  “Employee of the Month” can begin to be perceived by the staff as “who is the boss’s favorite right now” rather than as a reward for exceptional service.  It can cause resentment and lower morale rather than raise it.  A manager in a company started treating his workers to a lunch every Friday to thank them for their hard work.  The staff began to take it for granted, with some even asking to be reimbursed if they chose to eat lunch elsewhere.  The “reward” lost its luster.

There is also a problem when an award or recognition comes from too high up in an organization, or from the human resources department.  The employee may wonder how those people even know what work he does or how well he performs.

An employee award or recognition resonates best when coming from the direct supervisor for a specific goal met or service performed.  Such an award reinforces the actions and behaviors that the employer most wants to see its staff repeat.

Custom awards can achieve excellent results in rewarding and motivating employees.  Custom awards can be personalized and become a lasting reminder of a high point in a person’s career, perhaps spurring further achievement.

So many awards are generic – “For Outstanding Service” or “In Appreciation of Your Hard Work.”  Custom awards can be created to honor the specific act deserving of recognition.  “To Jane Smith for Working Overtime To Ensure The Order Was Shipped On Time on February 21, 2013.”  Such an award is something that will remind Jane of that day, and the sense of accomplishment she felt when she was done.

A manager or supervisor who knows his staff well can be creative in choosing when and how to recognize the employees who are contributing in positive ways.  An employee who normally does the bare minimum might have a day or week when he really steps up and exceeds his usual level.  Custom awards can be created to recognize such performances.  That employee may be motivated to work harder more often, because his work was noted and recognized.

Smart managers and human resource departments should be looking for new ways to recognize employee performance, so that rewards programs do not grow stale or become taken for granted.  Custom awards that fit the person and the reason for recognition are definitely something worth trying.

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