Why recognising and rewarding excellence isn’t the same thing

Recognising and rewardingOne of Accumulate’s Account Managers, Laura Miller, shares her thoughts on how to ensure recognition and reward doesn’t backfire.

After the launch party is over and a company’s shiny new employee recognition program is up and running, often there is a period of hesitation and confusion amongst managers about what behaviour is worthy of being rewarded.

If an employee is rewarded too frequently, will they form a belief that they are entitled to receive a certain quota of rewards each year and become disengaged if this expectation isn’t met? Will every piece of good work come with an extended hand, waiting to be given its reward?

The answer lies in companies being clear and consistent in their approach to recognition.

There are two main ways this can be achieved.

The first is to spin the spotlight around so that the recognition component becomes the focus rather than the reward. Managers can acknowledge an employee’s efforts in a number of ways without providing a physical reward. This may mean publically acknowledging their efforts or simply walking over to their desk to say thank you for a job well done. Employees will remember this personal recognition long after they have spent the program points or gift card they were given.

The second way to achieve this is to educate managers on the scale of discretionary effort versus reward. When evaluating if it is appropriate to give a reward, managers should consider whether the behaviour was a stand-out demonstration of something they are keen to encourage or if it was part of the employee’s day-to-day responsibilities. They should also take into account how much effort was required and whether the impact was significant.

A good rule of thumb is to use a sliding scale in which as the amount of effort or impact on the business increases, so too does the reward. This system creates a fair and consistent approach to recognition and helps employees understand the program’s core intent: to recognise outstanding behaviour.

Through celebrating the success of individuals and teams, an environment is cultivated in which giving thanks is the norm and receiving a reward is an unexpected bonus.

Finding the balance is easier than you may think.