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How to reward staff for a job well done

People like to know that others appreciate their efforts and to receive recognition for a job done well. From management's point of view, it's a good practice to reinforce desired behaviour by acknowledging it with an appropriate reward. Rewards play an important part in job performance, motivation, and productivity. Now you can recognise employees' achievements and make your workplace a haven for high productivity by considering these suggestions...

1. Ensure performance and reward go hand in hand.

For your organisation's incentive scheme to be effective, your staff must see it as acknowledging good performance. If employees know that top performance, by individuals or teams, will be acknowledged in some way, then those rewards - and their efforts which earned them - will have meaning. In this regard consider such points as these:

  • The size of the reward should reflect the size of the effort. An employee or team idea that generates a big return for the company should be rewarded accordingly.
  • Rewards should be tied to one's contribution, not simply to the length of time with the organisation.
  • Participants must be aware of the criteria being used to assess performance.

2. Devise a workable scheme.

Develop a set of principles that could form the basis of an employee reward system for your organisation. You might consider these points:

  • To administer the scheme, establish a committee of innovative managers and, in time, previous award winners. Rotate membership to maintain the flow of fresh ideas.
  • Ensure the scheme spreads the glory to all parts of your organisation and to all levels, from senior executives to back-room operatives.
  • Avoid granting rewards at fixed intervals, such as at the end of the year or at performance appraisal time. Employees need to be motivated throughout the year.
  • Recognise the achievements of teams as well as individuals - to heighten team spirit, downplay the nasty side of individual rivalry, and recognise the project-based nature of your organisational structure.
  • Have supervisors nominate awardees in writing, documenting specific accomplishments.
  • When designing your own incentive program, seek input from staff. Performance will peak if participants are involved in proposing their own rewards.
  • Actively support the scheme, even participate in it - and this means the CEO and top managers as well.

3. Select rewards that employees value.

Different things motivate different people, so incentive schemes must provide a variety of rewards that staff value. For example, one researcher has identified those incentives which improve productivity most, including, in descending order of importance:

  • opportunities to advance, good pay, opportunities to develop new and old skills, pay on merit, recognition for good work, opportunities to be creative, interesting and challenging work, having a voice in decision-making, responsibility, fringe benefits, equal workload.

In other words, not all rewards need to be monetary or materialistic.

Brainstorm the types of rewards worth considering in your organisation - for example:

  • reduced working hours or nine-day fortnights, tickets to sporting events, company vehicles, praise, a weekend away, in-house fitness centres, housing loans, a trophy or certificate, choice of work hours, a feature article in the company newsletter, a week in the company villa, flowers or wine delivered home, a catered breakfast or lunch, a team 'conference' at a coastal resort, an overseas research trip, job security, movie tickets, permanent part-time work, a paid training course, promotion, a donation to a charity of the employee's choice, a letter of appreciation from the CEO, naming a space in the building after a winner, a restaurant dinner…

Variety is appreciated by most staff who will often choose particular endeavours for which they find the rewards most appealing.


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