Rewards And Recognition
In a competitive business climate, more business owners are looking at improvements in quality while reducing costs. Meanwhile, a strong economy has resulted in a tight job market. So while small businesses need to get more from their employees, their employees are looking for more out of them. Employee reward and recognition programs are one method of motivating employees to change work habits and key behaviors to benefit a small business.
REWARD VS. RECOGNITION
Although these terms are often used interchangeably, reward and recognition systems should be considered separately. Employee reward systems refer to programs set up by a company to reward performance and motivate employees on individual and/or group levels. They are normally considered separate from salary but may be monetary in nature or otherwise have a cost to the company. While previously considered the domain of large companies, small businesses have also begun employing them as a tool to lure top employees in a competitive job market as well as to increase employee performance.
DESIGNING A REWARD PROGRAM
The keys to developing a reward program are as follows:
- Identification of company or group goals that the reward program will support
- Identification of the desired employee performance or behaviors that will reinforce the company’s goals
- Determination of key measurements of the performance or behavior, based on the individual or group’s previous achievements
- Determination of appropriate rewards
- Communication of program to employees
In order to reap benefits such as increased productivity, the entrepreneur designing a reward program must identify company or group goals to be reached and the behaviors or performance that will contribute to this. While this may seem obvious, companies frequently make the mistake of rewarding behaviors or achievements that either fail to further business goals or actually sabotage them. If teamwork is a business goal, a bonus system rewarding individuals who improve their productivity by themselves or at the expense of another does not make sense. Likewise, if quality is an important issue for an entrepreneur, the reward system that he or she designs should not emphasize rewarding the quantity of work accomplished by a business unit.
For small business owners and other managers, a recognition program may appear to be merely extra effort on their part with few tangible returns in terms of employee performance. While most employees certainly appreciate monetary awards for a job well done, many people merely seek recognition of their hard work. For an entrepreneur with more ingenuity than cash available, this presents an opportunity to motivate employees.
Nor will the entrepreneur be far off the mark. As Patricia Odell reported, writing for Promo, “Cash is no longer the ultimate motivator." Odell cited data from the Forum for People Performance Management and Measurement at Northwester University—which had discovered that non-cash awards tend to be more effective; the exception was rewarding increasing sales. “The study found," Odell wrote, “that non-cash awards programs would work better than cash in such cases as reinforcing organizational values and cultures, improving teamwork, increasing customer satisfaction and motivating specific behaviors among other programs."
In order to develop an effective recognition program, a small business owner must be sure to separate the program from the company’s system of rewarding employees. This ensures a focus on recognizing the efforts of employees. To this end, although the recognition may have a monetary value (such as a luncheon, gift certificates, or plaques), money itself is not given to recognize performance.