So you have a reward and recognition program. How can you be sure that the rewards you offer are effective in making your employees feel recognized?
Well, you can start by properly calibrating reward levels to the behavior you want to encourage. This is sort of a follow up to my last post, on e-thanks. I thought first I’d share this 30 second ad from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
It’s funny because it’s true.
And all kidding aside, this is a perfect example of why best practice recognition programs include tiers with different award levels to mark different levels of contribution. Dan—fictional or not—is not very different from any of us when it comes to how we think about rewards.
My guess is Dan wasn’t expecting a specific reward for his perfect attendance, or he likely wouldn’t have stuck around so long. So that’s not what has him kicking over plants.
No, what’s burning Dan up is this: his company is going to the trouble to recognize him, but offered such a lame reward in return for his great work ethic that they’ve cheapened his contribution. The message they sent is his effort is worth… well… pretty much the paper it is printed on. Clearly, Dan would have preferred NO reward to the certificate he’s offered. The certificate, which the company intends to be appreciation, is actually a demotivator.
Here are a couple of best practice tips on aligning rewards and recognition with behavior, to help you can avoid scenes like Dan’s:
- Always offer multiple tiers of reward so that employees can adequately recognize different levels of effort. Six tiers of reward (not including no-value e-cards or cash) is the optimum number according to our Insight team, as too few award levels tend to make people gravitate to very low and very high awards, or not award at all.)
- Offer rewards at distinctively different award levels so nominators can more easily discern what award level to give.
- Try to avoid or minimize rewards that are seen as low or no value, like certificates and e-cards. If you use e-cards, make them the lowest tier appreciation, for lower level effort, and try to limit them to 10% or less of your overall reward volume.
- Cash awards should be limited to $1,500 and above. Smaller cash awards tend to get lost in a paycheck and spent on bills and other items that have no “stickiness”–that is, they are not spent on items or experiences that will extend the recognition moment.
- Clearly communicate to your employees which kinds of behavior corresponds to each tier of recognition–so they are recognizing at the right levels. (Hint: A certificate is not the right reward for 15 years of perfect attendance.)
- Peer-to-peer award does NOT equate to e-thanks with no value. Make sure employees are empowered to reward each other with awards that carry value, or their enthusiasm and inspiration for appreciation will fizzle.
Making the effort to calibrate reward to behavior will make your recognition program a lot more effective and your employees a lot happier.
Plus it’s a lot easier on the plants.