Reward Staff to Motivate Them

Visionary leaders are always looking for ways to unlock the potential of their workers. Yet many seem to miss the one approach that spurs people on in most cases—purpose-based recognition.

Corporate culture needs to run deeper than the mission, vision and values of an organisation. On numerous occasions, I have worked with people who have no idea of what their firm’s vision is.

Corporate culture is all about how the firm’s rules—implicit or explicit—are carried out. It’s also about how we celebrate and reward excellence.

These days, it is considered standard practice that employees are expected to go the extra mile. How much effort would it take to reward these acts?

Some might say: “Well, I pay my employees a salary and that’s all it needs. I don’t have to appreciate or reward them; I pay them”.

However, from my experience, if you reward your employees in an organised and purpose-based way, they will put in even more effort next time.

There are many ways to reward others. In Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton’s book, The Carrot Principle, the authors refer to four of the most common forms of recognition that are the backbone of a healthy recognition culture:

1) Day-to-day recognition: the ways in which we regularly praise and express gratitude to employees.

This should be done frequently (but only when employees have done something to deserve it); specifically (general praise has little impact, so single out people and offer your recognition quietly); and in a timely manner (don’t leave it until a review meeting, as the impact will be lost by then).

2) Above-and-beyond recognition: a more formal response elicited by someone who has exceeded requirements.

• Reward the achievements that support and promote corporate values
• Ensure the perceived value of the award is roughly equal to the impact of the achievement
• Choose an award that suits the employee’s interests, tastes and sensibilities

3) Career recognition: reward the loyalty of those employees who have stuck with the firm for a long time, through good times and bad.

4) Celebratory events: celebrate important moments in your firm’s history. Take the opportunity to thank everyone and communicate, “We’re in this together”.

But what should be given as a reward? The list of options is endless and they don’t all cost a fortune. Below is a short list you might like to consider at your firm.

• Handwritten thank-you note
• Extra day’s holiday
• Birthday card sent to an employee’s home address
• As a group award, have doughnuts, ice cream, biscuits, wine or beer on Fridays when targets have been met for the week
• Certificate of appreciation
• Give an employee something they like, for example, flowers, a computer game or a cookery book

Cash is not always the most effective form of reward, as small amounts of money easily can be forgotten.

Don’t cut down on rewards when things get tough and resources are limited or stretched—not all rewards cost money, but all rewards do motivate employees.

Study results show that, of the people who reported the highest morale at work, 94.4% agreed that their managers were good at recognition. In addition, 56% of those who said they have low morale at work gave their managers a clear thumbs down for recognition.

So go on … reward those who have done something good—and do it NOW!

Oh, and by the way, could the person who borrowed my copy of The Carrot Principle please return it!

Anne Good is a professional Executive, Career and Life Coach and conducts sessions face-to-face or via Skype. If you have a related question for Anne that you would like answered in the next issue or in private, please contact her: