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rewarding employees - ask these five questions first

5 questions you need to ask yourself before rewarding employees

It’s import to get rewarding employees right. Rewards aren’t just a nice bonus to make staff feel good. They’re a business tool. That’s not to say you should take the joy out of giving employees rewards, but you should be smart about how you use them.

A poorly timed or a poorly thought-out reward is just your company’s money down the drain. That’s a tragedy when you could be getting so much more out of rewarding employees.

When you think someone deserves a reward, take just a few seconds to ask yourself five questions about the achievement in question.

1. Does it reflect your values?

Rewarding employees for living your values builds engagement with those principles. It’s important to make sure employees are recognised, and sometimes rewarded, for upholding your company values in their work.

By closely linking achievements to company values, staff are more familiar with your company’s purpose. This also creates positive links between staff, your business and your rewards.

Rewarding for behaviour that doesn’t reflect your values has two negative effects. Your employees lose faith that you believe in your own organisation’s values. And they will see that you actually treasure them working outside of those values.

2. Is it notable?

Would your employee, and their colleagues, agree their achievement is notable?

A reward is a waste of cash if the employee doesn’t also see their achievement as noteworthy. That doesn’t improve when other staff see the reward and think the same thing.

Rewarding for behaviour that employees don’t see as notable is jarring. It implies disconnection between you and your staff. Or at least a difference in what your team values and what managers think is important.

3. Is it timely?

To make the most of the combination of rewards and achievement, time is important. It’s vital to issue rewards as close to someone’s achievements as possible.

If you’ve left it too long, it can feel a bit like you’re not paying attention. Or that you’re playing catch-up with your staff’s achievements. And by that time, the emotional impact of your reward will be long gone.

4. Is it positive?

Rewarding employees should be associated with positive behaviour. Like we said, you’re training your staff on how to behave when you reward them. It’s an endorsement of what they did and how they achieved it. What you reward should always be something you’d be proud to talk about in public.

5. Is it repeatable?

Could another employee aspire to make this achievement for themselves?

When you reward employees you show everyone what the organisation thinks is important. Sometimes it’s appropriate to reward a one-off achievement, but tread carefully.

If employees can repeat behaviour that gets rewarded, they’re more likely to try and earn that reward again. If your plan is to build better behaviour with positive feedback, it needs to be something other employees can do.

Your turn

The first four questions are the real quiz. If you can say “yes” with a straight face, it’s high time to break out the rewards. The fifth one you’ll have to play by ear and use your judgement, depending on your specific business.

But make sure you give your rewards a bit of thought before dishing them out. It’s worth it.

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