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BEC: Are rewards and incentives necessary?


Kara Sealy, Labour management adviser

BEC: Are rewards and incentives necessary?

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“People may take a job for more money, but they often leave it for more recognition.” – Dr. Bob Nelson.

 

Should we all decide to reflect on our childhood years, I am sure that most, if not all of us, would be caught with a smile on our face as we reminisce on the days within the education system.

The different gold, silver and red stars or even trophies that children so passionately strive to achieve. That desire does not automatically wither away; in fact, some may argue that such a desire for recognition gets deeper, although it is manifested in different ways. 

In today’s world of work, employees are more articulate about their needs. They are requesting the best in compensation, job security, work-life balance, career enhancement options, and so on.

As the education system continues to produce more and more cultivated students with increasing talent, companies are faced with the phenomenon of having well defined philosophies and strategies to help them attract, motivate or engage their employees.

As such, an efficient reward and recognition programme can prove to be a worthwhile tool in this regard. It is for this reason, and not because holidays are around the corner, that I am sharing this timely reminder.

Research indicates that employees have three prime needs: Interesting work, recognition for doing a good job, and being let in on things that are going on in the company. Most companies today are not utilising the potential of recognition sufficiently.

It is important to note that a more effective recognition practice comes about when people managers and peers are empowered and encouraged to reward and recognise.

Also, involving the employees while deciding on the numerous ways in which rewards and recognition can be provided can also prove to be much more effective; as opposed to taking a unilateral approach. In reviewing the numerous policies that currently exist, we have found that there is a gap in some of the reward and recognition programmes. Using rewards and recognition, especially recognition, to drive desirable behaviours and efforts is more impactful; as oppose to the traditional or blanket use of rewards and recognition for sales performance and customer satisfaction.

Some may disagree, but I implore you to take a closer look. I am sure many of you have experienced an employee who seemed to be “best fit” or the “best candidate” for the post during an interview, and by the third or fourth month in the role, their behaviour made a 360-degree flip. Sometimes just rewarding the result can be dangerous. I encourage you to incorporate rewarding and recognising behaviours into your organisation; for example, teamwork; as excellence is not an act science, but a habit. 

Additionally, research has shown that making rewards and recognition more individualised or personalised, without violating the premise of fairness, make the rewards and recognition more meaningful and motivating.

It allows you to appeal to the individual employee’s preference and personality. Consider the Maslow theory on the hierarchy of needs.

Maslow (1943) stated that people are motivated to achieve certain needs, and that some needs take precedence over others.

Moreover, setting unrealistic goals that can never be achieved and trying to incentivise staff will do more harm than good.

You want to set realistic, achievable and line of sight goals to drive success. Rewards for goals that seem unachievable do not motivate. 

Finally, we must understand that it is necessary to strike a balance between driving and rewarding individual results and the performance of the team.

When we only focus on individual achievements and rewards/recognition, we can harm the team work and collaboration element any workplace would want to foster.

Likewise, only focusing on team achievements without encouraging and rewarding individual excellence can also affect an individual’s drive and productivity. Remember, a person always remembers how you make them feel; and you seldom see a “team” walk away from a job voluntarily. 

Having said the above, here are a few general yet critical points that aided in the development of a reward and recognition programme for some of the successfully companies:

An effective reward and recognition programme should reflect the culture of the organisation, that being primarily its basic values and beliefs; and integrate well with the nature of its business, strategy and goals. 

There must be fairness in each reward and recognition practice. Deviation of such would be seen where there is lack of impartiality in assessment; lack of clarity of desired actions and results to be rewarded; inadequate transparency on the how and why employees are rewarded; inadequate internal equity; and insufficient external parity. 

There is great potential in non-monetary recognition practices. Employers should be mindful that not all recognition practices require a big budget; they can be given both publicly and privately; can be provided not only by team leads or management but also by peers; and can be done frequently.

I do hope that this information shared can add value to your organisation and the employment relationships with your staff.

Should you for any reason have doubt in the performance management and reward/recognition system you currently utilize, the Confederation stands ready to assist you in that regard.

Have a productive day and God bless us all as we celebrate 50 years of Independence.

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