3 Research-Backed Tips to Reward and Engage Employees

A young worker gets to Reward and Engage Employees

Do You Know How to Reward and Engage Employees?
Everyone wants to be recognized for their contribution and a job well done. Smart leaders know how to reward and engage employees by making the rewards and recognition:

  • Meaningful
  • Relevant
  • Proportional to the effort and value

Ineffective Rewards Can Dilute Your Performance Culture
It doesn’t look as though the winner of the above Employee of the Month cartoon is happy about her reward…nor do her teammates. She looks dismayed; they look angry. This is not the reaction you want when a reward is due.

Employee Engagement Data on How to Reward and Engage Employees
We know from our most recent employee engagement survey data how important effective employee rewards and recognition can be.

  • Survey results showed that as many as 65 out of 100 employees at highly engaged companies were confident that they would be recognized when their work contributed significantly to the organization’s success.
  • Employee Reward and Recognition programs that are well conceived and well implemented encourage ever higher performance levels and increase employee engagement.

Three Research-Backed Tips to Reward and Engage Employees
Here are three research-backed tips on how to reward and engage employees:.

1.  Forget the Tchotchkes (an inexpensive souvenir, trinket, or ornament).
They have little value. Instead, try simple and meaningful acknowledgment. A sincere pat on the back for extra effort may be enough.

  • Some employees might prefer being saluted more publicly for their good work…at a team meeting or even an All-Hands session depending upon the importance of their contribution.
  • Acknowledgment is important, too, in tough times. One organization we work with is facing a major change as they are about to be acquired by a larger overseas company. There is a lot of angst in the work force. How will their lives be changed? Will they still have a job? Will they have to move? None of the questions may have answers as yet but simply recognizing that times are difficult can help to better unify and align the group.
  • Stay close to the team so you know when they are struggling and can support them. Acknowledge that the uncertainty of the future is stressful and that you will keep them updated as soon you learn more.

2.  Remember Rewards Have Little Meaning Unless They Are Tailored to the Recipient
For example, granting a hard and conscientious worker more flex time may be far more appreciated than a simple cash bonus. If you know your team members as individuals, you can design a meaningful response to their over-and-above-the-call contribution. It could be as simple as a bouquet of flowers on their desk or cookies to share at afternoon break. Be creative and consider the individual.

3.  Recognize Underachievers Too…Not in a Public Way But in the Spirit of Helping to Improve Performance
This may sound counter-intuitive but remember how bad it feels to work alongside a low performer who coasts while you put in consistently longer and harder days? It does not take long to get discouraged and feel disengaged. Why should you even try if no one seems to care?

Good managers understand that low performers need recognition in the form of:

  • clear expectations
  • targeted support
  • measurable accountability
  • aligned consequences.

Everyone needs to know if their performance is not improved over a specific period of time, they will be asked to leave. Don’t risk losing your high performers because you’re not doing your job of recognizing and correcting your low performers.

The Bottom Line
Reward and engage employees with recognition that matters to solidify their commitment to the organization’s mission.  You will know when your reward and recognition program is working to increase employee engagement when employees believe:

  • The organization makes investments to make them more successful.
  • The leaders of this organization value people as their most important resource.
  • Considering the value they bring to the organization, they feel they are paid fairly.
  • The leaders of this organization are committed to making it a great place to work.
  • They are always thinking about ways to do their job better.
  • If they contribute to the organization’s success, they know they will be recognized.

To learn more about how to more effectively reward and engage employees, download Top 10 Most Powerful Ways to Boost Employee Engagement

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