Although money is important, you can get potentially more benefit from forms of recognition that are personal, creative and fun.
You get what you reward” is a common-sense notion that is not common practice in most organizations today. When rewards are used, financial incentives are the major focus. In fact, most managers feel that all employees’ want is more money.
While money can be important ways of letting workers know their worth to the company, it tends not to be a sustaining motivational force to most individuals. In other words, salary raises and bonuses are nice, but they seldom motivate people to do their best on the job. Daily excitement for people’s work is influenced more by how they are treated in the workplace-that is, by the softer side of management more than by what they are paid.
Money also has limitations as a motivator because in most organizations performance reviews-and corresponding raises-occur annually. To inspire employees, managers must recognize achievements and progress toward goals much more frequently than once a year. In fact, recognizing and rewarding performance should take place on a daily basis.
Intangible Rewards Work Best
What tends to motivate workers the most are such intangibles as being appreciated for the work they’ve done, being kept informed about things that affect them and having a sympathetic manager who takes the time to listen to them.
In the 1994 National Study of the Changing Workforce conducted by the Families and Work Institute of New York, “open communication” was ranked highest by respondents when asked to list items they consider to be “very important” in deciding to take their current job. Staffing company Robert Half International recently reported that the No. 1 reason employees give for leaving companies is a lack of praise and recognition. These findings support the belief that how employees are treated-and appreciated-has a significant impact on their motivation.
No-Cost Recognition That Works
Having learned that employees are motivated by intangible rewards, companies would be wise to consider the power and possibilities of no-cost job recognition when trying to motivate employees to do their best. Many no-cost methods that probably will be most effective can also be part of most jobs in the workplace.
I remember some of the best methods by the first letter of the word “intangible,” which I call “The Power of I’s.”
1) Interesting work– Employees should have at least part of their job be of great interest to them. As management theorist Frederick Herzberg once said, “If you want someone to do a good job, give them a good job to do.” While some jobs may be inherently boring, you can provide employees with at least one stimulating task or project. Name them to a suggestion committee that meets weekly, or to some other special group. The increased productivity will more than compensate for the time away from their regular job.
2) Information/communication/feedback. As previously pointed out, now more than ever employees want information. They crave knowledge about how they are doing in their jobs and how the company is doing in its business. Start telling them how the company makes and spends money. Soon you will have them turning out the lights when they are the last to leave the room.
3) Involvement/ownership in decisions. Involving employees-especially in decisions that affect them-is both respectful to them and practical. People who are closest to the problem or customer typically have the best insight on how to improve a situation. They know what works and what doesn’t, yet they are rarely asked for their opinion. As you involve others, you enhance their commitment and increase the ease in implementing changes.
4) Independence/autonomy/flexibility. Most employees-especially experienced, top-performing employees-value the freedom to do their job as they see fit. All employees, however, appreciate flexibility in their job. When you provide these characteristics to employees based on desired performance, it increases the likelihood that they will perform as desired. Even with new employees, you can provide work assignments in a way that tells them what needs to be done without dictating exactly how to do it.
5) Increased visibility, opportunity. For some workers, providing them with visibility is a public way of giving them credit for their work. This can be achieved in many ways, such as copying a letter of praise for others in the organization, having the person stand to be acknowledged at a staff meeting, putting his or her picture on a “wall of fame” in your company and so forth. Likewise, a new assignment or additional responsibilities extended as recognition for past performance also motivates most employees.
Rewards should be simple yet creative
In addition to the types of no-cost recognition that can be built into an individual’s job, management should also administer low-cost rewards designed to encourage employees to excel. To heighten their effectiveness, these intangible rewards should be granted frequently and should be personal and creative.
The key word is “creative.” Take time to find out what specifically motivates and excites each employee, and then do your best to make those things happen. When one of your employees has put in extra effort on a key project or met a particular goal, recognize the accomplishment immediately in a unique and memorable way. The more creative and innovative you are with the reward, the more fun it will be for the employee, others in the organization and you.
The ideas for creative rewards are endless.
There are hundreds of ideas for you to consider that are creative and simple to implement. For example, you could:
- Write a letter to the employee’s family telling them about the employee’s recent feat and what it means to you and the company.
- Arrange for a top manager in your company to have a recognition lunch with the employee or have the company president call the employee to thank him or her personally for a job well done.
- Find out what an employee’s hobby is and purchase a small gift that relates to that hobby.
- Dedicate the parking space closest to the building entrance to the outstanding employee of the month.
- Create a “Wall of Fame” to honor high achievers and special achievements in your organization.
Ideas like these are limited only by your imagination, time and creativity. Not only will such rewards single out exceptional employees in a unique fashion, they will also create a positive story that the employee will tell others over and over again. Friends, family and co-workers will get to hear about the individual’s achievement and what the company did to celebrate it.
Cuddled from: Quality Digest