What makes you enjoy your job? Is it a massive pay packet or having your Manager (or company as a whole) acknowledge the great job you are doing? Is it a thankless quarterly bonus or a staff lunch put on by the company to give everyone the chance to relax and interact with each other in a social setting? When employers think of employee reward & recognition they think of money, but the most meaningful ways, the ways that employees remember and appreciate, can sometimes be the least cost prohibitive.
Successful companies know that their employees are at the heart of the business. Satisfied and engaged employees create not only positive energy in the workplace, but also go the extra mile to ensure individual and organisational success.
Disengaged employees can be a hindrance to the workplace as they can drain out the positive energy out of the rest of their colleagues. They try to evade work, struggle to meet deadlines and are reluctant to accept additional responsibility.
The challenge of motivating employees to perform to their full potential is one that every workplace faces. Managers can feel that their staff would be more productive if they were more committed, while employees typically feel overworked and undervalued.
The Employee Engagement Hierarchy is based off of Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and reflects an employee’s engagement level as determined by how well their needs are being met. Rewards and recognition fulfill different needs and so which one is better depends on the individual and their needs.
So what are the best methods to increase employee engagement and encourage them to bring their full selves to work every day?
Also known as intrinsic rewards, recognition involves the psychological rewards gained by doing a job well. This can include verbal or written recognition of an employee’s achievements, skills, or overall performance. This can be in a team meeting or one-on-one, or in a casual midday chat. Research has found that it is intrinsic rewards and recognition that tend to drive employee motivation on a day-to-day level, rather than the tangible rewards.
- No financial investment required
- Increases employees’ sense of competence and worth, resulting in increased pride and care in their work
- Builds meaningfulness and purpose for an employee, contributing to their job satisfaction as they recognise the relevance/importance of their role within the greater organisation
- Can be a great way to reinforce organisational values and cultures like improving teamwork
- Staff may “slack off” after they have received recognition, thinking they have already proven themselves
- Staff can feel undervalued if they are never recognised
For the most part, intrinsic rewards continue to motivate employees afterwards, as they want their employer to feel that the recognition was justified. And recognition is something that can be given to any employee, including those who may not be performing at the highest standard, as it can be used as a tool to engage and motivate employees who feel undervalued or overworked and are therefore less productive.
There are plenty of inexpensive ways for management to show employees the recognition that they deserve. Sometimes at the end of the day, the two most underused words in any organisations are the simple words ‘Thank You’’.
Whichever method used or practiced, remember to make it a ritual and not just a ‘once off’.
This includes all financial rewards (also known as extrinsic rewards) like pay raises, bonuses, gift cards, or any other tangible reward which is given to a person in recognition of their performance.
- Highly motivating if the reward is desirable
- Attractive perks can increase the appeal of an employer to prospective employees, attracting higher calibre candidates
- Could compensate for jobs with lower rates of pay or job satisfaction
- Short-term motivation only, leading to ongoing financial costs to produce regular reward opportunities
- Could lead to increased culture of competition, rather than collaboration and teamwork, amongst staff
- Could lead staff to focus only on achieving outcomes associated with rewards, and neglect other areas of performance
Overall, while providing extrinsic tangible rewards is generally seen as a reliable and effective way to encourage and motivate staff performance, as you can see, there are some consequences worth taking into account.
While rewards can certainly provide short-term motivation and drive, it generally does not drive long-term engagement, and must be continually invested in to make it succeed. In terms of workplace collaboration, rewarding individuals only runs the risk of discouraging teamwork, as individuals seek to outperform each other, rather than work together to achieve targets. This has the potential to create disharmony in the workplace as staff vie for the reward rather than the focus on quality work.
There are compelling gains to be made from creating a workplace culture that celebrates and promotes the achievements of staff through recognition. It requires no financial investment, and provides long-term benefits to employee satisfaction and workplace productivity.
Based in Kalgoorlie, The People & Culture Office is an independent HR Consultant who can partner with you to offer a one stop HR solution, we only charge you for the work we perform; no contracts, no annual or monthly fees, just quality service. Click here to learn more