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Rewards and Recognition

Rewards in the workplace

Posted on November 25, 2013
Employee Incentives

When we set out to build Vocoli, rewards and incentives for participation became a major point of concern for us. We wanted contributors to understand the impact and benefits of their ideas. This would allow them to use Vocoli to the fullest and to create a better, more successful and more involved workplace.

If an employee’s suggestion starts saving the company thousands of dollars a year, should they see a portion of those savings as a bonus? Are monetary rewards really the best way to encourage participation? We took a look into some research about rewards and encouragements to find out.

Reward vs. Punishment

There are two ways to stimulate a response from someone; reward them or punish them. In social psychology, that’s called classical conditioning. Reward someone repeatedly for an action, and in time, they will act in expectance of that reward. While this system is great for training dogs with treats, humans aren’t quite so simple.

Albert Einstein famously said “If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.” That’s because in order to achieve more, you need to think beyond the basics. Chances are your employees’ basic needs for survival are already being met. Instead, workplace achievement relies more heavily on our desires for esteem and self actualization (Visit Maslow’s Hierarchy for a more in depth look at what drives us).

While competition plays into our animal instincts for survival, appealing to our more complex desires for challenge, opportunity, learning and creativity turns your office into a motivated community. We’d like to think your team should see themselves as part of a community working towards a common goal; not as rivals.

The (Overlooked) Value of Recognition

So, how should we reward our employees for their achievements and help drive them towards self-actualization?  It’s common knowledge in business that you get what you reward. Some people are motivated by money or prefer a cash bonus for a job well done. That’s not a bad thing. But, money is not always the top motivator in the workplace.

Two recent surveys of 834 organizations revealed that only 17 percent of employees thought their organizations’ cultures strongly support recognition. Worse, 70 percent report that they’re recognized only annually or not at all. This isn’t just bad for the employees; it’s bad for your business. Your employees are your greatest assets. Under appreciating them is just plain silly (and it will cost you).

Another study of 1,500 employees demonstrated that money isn’t always the best motivator because performance reviews and corresponding raises or bonuses tend to occur annually. This again can lead to employees going unrecognized for too long.

To inspire employees, achievements and progress should be recognized and rewarded more frequently.

 A manager who listens and compliments progress on a regular basis is more effective at improving daily work habits than a semi-annual review. Personalized and instant recognition is the most valuable, with 65% of employees surveyed crediting it as their ideal form of motivation. Regular reminders help employees feel valued, even when working on more menial projects.

That’s because recognition helps to:

  • Give employees a sense of ownership of their work
    • When employees understand how their work makes a difference, it empowers them to work harder and excel.
  • Allow people to feel included and accepted while the group excels as a whole
  • Eliminate or reduce the fear of failure
    • This in turn diminishes anxieties, increasing confidence and productivity.
  • Increase resilience in the face of challenges through self efficacy
  • Take a goal-oriented perspective that strives to solves challenges for everyone
  • Bond with others by paying personal attention to the group.

Companies that scored in the top 20% for building a “recognition-rich culture” actually had 31% lower voluntary turnover rates. Happier employees stick around longer and work harder for your business.

How to Motivate
So, how do you translate these ideas and goals over to your office?

Build a system of reward that offers regular reminders. Customizing your rewards to your employees reassures them that you’re paying attention. Think inclusively. Can you use peer-to-peer system to ensure more recognition? When should larger rewards be given? This is where buzz-words like employee engagement and corporate culture really prove themselves.

Remember to focus on:

  • Ongoing training, reinforcement or accountability for manag­ers and employees to encourage participa­tion
  • Capturing and making an example of exceptional employee behav­ior
  • Assessing the consistencyof work and recognition. 

Building an office culture which appreciates hard work reinforces employees’ beliefs of their value. It may sound a little fluffy, but the results are there to prove it.

Happy people do better work.

The Vocoli Way

That’s why we at Vocoli designed our social collaboration and points systems. Social collaboration allows users to comment with encouragement or suggestion on a coworker’s idea. This opens up channels for more frequent engagement and support within your office.

Plus, with our point system, you decide the best way to reward your employees.

Managers and administrators can determine how many points a suggestion is worth based on how much time, effort and money is saved. These different point values can be used to represent cash, vacation time, or company wide recognition and appreciation for remarkable contributions. Points can also add up over time, building towards longer vacations, bigger bonuses or whatever you find your employees craving.

So, while some projects may be best motivated with a bonus check, others can help spread the goodwill. The point build- up system helps bring employees back, offering valuable suggestions more regularly for bigger and better rewards.

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