12:00 AM, 07 11, 2019

How NOT to Reward Staff

Staff rewards are great. When done correctly, rewards drive performance and improve employee happiness. However, done incorrectly and they encourage short termism and can actually restrict productivity.

Rewards should always be used as a form of genuine recognition. If you aren’t sincere in your efforts your employees will see straight through it, causing only negative effects. So, what should you avoid if you want to motivate your team?

Just offer cash

Studies such as Herzberg’s Two- Factor Theory[1], proves that extrinsic motivators, aka the traditional ‘carrot and stick’ type of rewards such as cash, only work on people if they aren’t earning enough salary. And if your staff are struggling on a below average salary, they won’t be sticking around long regardless. As such, cash just feels like a compensator and will probably go towards the household bills, hardly a treat is it?

Reward results

It might sound odd initially, but when you just reward results you may encourage people to cut corners. Instead, reward behaviour and hard work. Even if in some cases it doesn’t pay off, it will be better for the company in the long term. In his very interesting book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us[2], researcher D. Pink lists the 7 mains effects of such extrinsic, ‘if- then’, rewards:

  1. It can extinguish intrinsic motivation.
  2. It can diminish performance.
  3. It can crush creativity.
  4. It can crowd out good behaviour.
  5. It can encourage cheating, shortcuts, and unethical behaviour.
  6. It can become addictive.
  7. It can foster short-term thinking.

Overall, rewarding a result may have a positive effect, but only a short lived one. In the long term, it will disengage employees, promote bad habits and demotivate them. Worse still, it’s likely to cause them to cut corners to achieve set goals.

Schedule rewards

The best and most impactful rewards are the ones that people aren’t expecting; when they know it’s coming it doesn’t feel like such a celebration. One study reports that, “51% of employees say that receiving a milestone award had no impact on how they perceived their job or the company as a whole”[3]. So, whilst it’s important to reward someone who has been with you for 5 years, it’s arguably more important to reward someone out of the blue when you notice them putting in extra effort.

Include criticism

When you praise someone, make sure it is just that. It’s never a nice feeling when you’re recognised for your hard work only for the following sentence to begin with a “but”. Once you include advice on how to improve for next time you immediately undo the positives. Save any improvements and advice for the one to ones.

Wait too long to reward

If someone has done something great, reward them as soon as possible. Don’t wait until the monthly review. Research proves that, “Millennials require immediate recognition for accomplishments”[4]. The prize has to be closely related to the reason their being rewarded, otherwise they’ll forget what they did that was so great and feel like their efforts aren’t noticed.

Think one reward fits all

Everyone is different, so for your rewards to be effective you need to think about the individuals. Are they looking to update their summer wardrobe and would love a Peacocks Gift Card, or tech savy and would love a Curry’s PC World eGift? It’s also not just about the reward but how you present it. Whilst it’s important that other employees also recognise the success of the individual being rewarded, not everyone wants it shouted out in the office. Get to know your employees, find out who each of them really is.

If you want to reward, recognise and incentivise staff, we have the tools that allow you reward them online with an eGift of their choosing, that way they’ll always be happy with what they get. If you’re interested in learning more talk to our team about Preference. Call 01709 303 102 or email hello@svmglobal.com.




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