How to reward employees for a job well done | Incentive&Motivation

It’s a simple notion that makes complete common sense – when people thrive, organisations thrive too. Unfortunately, many businesses still think that by throwing money at people in exchange for time, effort or achievement, it will incentivize them to stay and perform. Data and experience has shown that not to be the case.


Armed with facts from an increasing number of studies, many of the world’s largest and most successful organisations are starting to realise that recognition is not only as important as financial reward, it’s actually more effective at increasing morale, encouraging great work and ensuring your amazing people stay with you.


Here are five ways you can get recognition and reward right, no matter what size your business is.


  1. Say Thanks.

How hard can it be? We all know how good it feels to be appreciated and that still applies in the workplace. Hershey employs 18,000 people across 24 countries. When they implemented a peer-to-peer recognition system, employee satisfaction improved over 23% within three years. Based on the simple idea of thanking each other for a good job, today they see one of their employees receive recognition every seven minutes. Give your people the platform to thank each other – the results speak for themselves!


  1. Reward Appropriately.

Financial reward has its place, but the annual bonus is shown to only create positive impact on morale and output for four weeks after its given. That means for eleven twelfths of the year, that highly expensive programme means nothing. By offering high-frequency, low value rewards that appreciate good work (a nice coffee, a gift card, ice cream) you can create psychological income for your people, which research by Globoforce shows to create higher impact than financial income alone. Of course, if something monumental is achieved, it should be rewarded monumentally, just don’t always think money first.


  1. Make it about feedback.

Tying reward to performance is common with financial bonuses, but that pushes a focus onto financial targets rather than overall contribution and may hinder collaboration, support and team relationships. If your people need to contribute fully to unlock recognition and reward (whatever shape that may take), an annual appraisal is no longer a good enough marker to help them to get there. Spending time in honest, two-way conversation to highlight areas where development and improvement are needed, positively complements positive recognition and enables your people to do their best work.


  1. Turn Managers into Coaches.

Support, empathy and leadership can be as rewarding for employees as any other incentive. Knowing they can develop, contribute. And access an inclusive workplace is good for morale, which in turn is good for productivity and profitability. Managing people by wielding KPIs without wider understanding of context can destroy morale, but studies show that when employees feel supported, they are more likely to engage and contribute, because they are happy in their work (Globoforce/ IBM).


  1. Do What is Right for Your Organization.

Every organization is different. It has a different mission and is made up of a different set of people. Creating a reward and recognition approach that’s right for your unique community is essential. Always take advice and see what others are doing, but creating carbon copies and expecting them to work in your organization is a dangerous game. Just because Google have a slide in their office, it doesn’t mean your company should. Think about why you want to reward and recognize your people, how you can do it given the resources, infrastructure and capabilities you have, then implement and monitor. There are always opportunities to improve!


About the Author: Andy Swann is a leading expert on the relationship between people, organisations and work. His new book The Human Workplace is out now, published by Kogan Page.