My boss walked into my office and told me that I was going to receive an “on the spot award” of $100 for some work I did that was considered to be of great value to the corporation. It made me feel good, and it was used to have a relaxing meal with my family.
I am a great believer in taking everyday workplace activities and looking for opportunities to have fun and make people feel good. Looking back on my 28 year engineering career and my purpose as an engineer, I have come to the conclusion that I have a passion to help people, to create a fun working environment, and to make people laugh.
My job requires me to travel a lot, and to interact with hundreds of people a year. For many years, I have been asking people what exceptional things are going on in their workplaces. In a previous article, I talked about a secretary coming up with the idea of bringing an ice cream truck into a chemical plant as a fun way to get the heat stroke safety message across.
In another article, I wrote about a charity organization that has a KUDOS program where employees are making note of fellow employees going over and beyond normal work duties, and is a formal recognition program. These are people that are proactive in taking a workplace from good to great. Let’s look at an example:
I want you to imagine your boss with a $100 check in his hand. You have been working late at night all week and also on the weekend to get a project completed on time. You volunteered to help out and you have been noticed. Your boss takes a thank you card out of a drawer in his desk and takes the elevator up to the executive offices. He walks from office to office and gets thank you signatures after explaining to them what you have done. He takes the check for $100 and inserts it into the card and puts it into an envelope. But he doesn’t send the card to you…he addresses it to your spouse and kids…..with a personal note, thanking the family for the personal time…
Imagine how you feel, your spouse who may have been angry at the company because of the extra household burden, trying to get kids to and from school, sport practices etc., is now feeling more amicable towards the company. The work and family time has not been taken for granted. The spouse might even boast to friends about the achievement and talk positively about the company (think free recruitment). Picture your kids reading the thank you note while holding the $100 check and thinking to themselves, “This is so cool, our parents are important, and now we have enough money to buy all the ice cream in the world!”
If you are a supervisor or manager etc., imagine what value was received from $100, and the price of a thank you card and stamp. Visualize a happy worker who is energized, more productive, and willing to volunteer for future challenges. Taking a workplace from good to great does not always require huge resources- it involves a proactive, creative, and thoughtful touch.
11 Success Strategy for Rewarding Employees
1. Recognize achievements at every opportunity – create a positive workplace culture of reinforcement at all levels of the organization and for all employees (favoritism can erode this initiative and deplete its credibility).
2. If you are recognizing or rewarding someone, for increased effectiveness, tell them the specific behavior or action that they are being rewarded for, and how it made you feel. This applies to the workplace, the community and your family members.
3. Reward in a timely manner and communicate the achievement as widespread as possible. By communicating throughout the organization, you are reinforcing the behaviors and actions that you want others to follow.
4. The specific level of accomplishment and reward size should correlate.
5. Put thought into what types of rewards would be best appreciated by the employee.
6. Brainstorm ways to reward and recognize people in your specific organization. Keep evolving and find and use new ways to make this program effective.
7. Have a competition on how recognition can be taken from good to great (and recognize the people who came up with ideas!).
8. Remember, everyone wants to be appreciated whether they are employees or leaders.
9. The newer generations thrive on recognition and rewards – if you have a high turnover of younger employees this can help stem that flow.
10. Look over your shoulder after you have implemented a successful recognition and reward program and see the increased camaraderie, productivity, loyalty, and employee engagement.
11. Read books such as 1001 Ways to Reward Employees by Bob Nelson; this contains a wealth of ideas, and costs only $10.