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Employee recognition: a better way to reward

In HR-speak, the term “employee recognition and reward” relates to the practice of acknowledging an individual or team’s behaviour, performance and accomplishment when such efforts contribute to the organisation’s goals and values.

Traditionally, common forms of employee recognition and reward have been monetary. Think salary increases, bonuses, gift cards etc. Everyone is motivated by financial incentives, right?

Wrong. And here’s the reason: typically, it’s because of the confusion between recognition and incentives and the relevance of intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic motivation is defined as the doing of an activity for its inherent satisfaction rather than for some separable consequence. Think: participating in a sport because you find the activity enjoyable.

Extrinsic motivation refers to doing something not for its inherent enjoyment, but for a separable outcome. Think: participating in a sport to win awards.

In social psychology, it’s well documented that attaching monetary incentives to a task actually lowers motivation. When a task is extrinsically rewarded, employees may feel motivated for a certain time or until the task finishes. But when the reward is lowered or removed, the employee’s interests in the task drops and intrinsic motivation is gone. There arises the need for the extrinsic rewards to be offered continuously to keep even simple activities going…and that’s ongoing cost to you.

Conversely, recognition is a form of non-monetary reward. Recognition simply refers to witnessing and appreciating positive contributions of the employees, making them realise their efforts are being noticed and that people are aware their work is valued.

Recognition taps into intrinsic motivation.

Simplest place to start? Three steps:

  1. Acknowledge people: when they do a good job, go over and above or provide constructive suggestions to improve the business.
  2. Be timely: the recognition should occur as close to the performance of the actions as possible, so the recognition reinforces the behaviour you wish to encourage.
  3. Consider the impact of using the word “together” to foster a workplace environment of connection and belonging.  Read more about the benefits of using this one word here.

Employee recognition reinforces the key results that your people create for your business. Employees gain a better understanding of how you would like to see them contributing in the workplace (and are more likely to repeat such actions) when they know their contributions are consistently recognised.

When it comes to employee productivity, not all motivation is the same. Before you go down the track of investing time, money and energy on financial rewards for your team you might like to consider the recognition approach. Best part? Free. What’s not to like about something that costs nothing?

Like to know more about getting the best from your people? Call Bare Bones Consulting for a complimentary first consultation or, if you’re too busy recognising your team’s performance to call, drop us an email through our “Contact Us” page here.

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