Our previous post noted that a Rewards & Recognition program is an important component of a comprehensive engagement plan, and that there are different approaches or “reasons” to implement the practice.
During discussions with our Partners in Improvement groups details associated with each of three distinct strategies for implementing a rewards and recognition program were summarized as follows:
Strategy #1: To Increase Commitment and ‘Team Spirit”
Service awards are an example of recognizing people in order to strengthen the commitment to and satisfaction with their jobs.
Many organizations announce service anniversaries and offer public congratulations and appreciation. In some cases a paper certificate is ceremoniously handed to the individual. Some organizations award gifts of increasing value for milestone anniversaries, such as 5 year, 10 year, 20 year anniversaries. Gifts bearing the company logo were also intended to increase association with and commitment to the organization.
Strategy #2: To Increase Certain Behaviors or Accomplishments
A good deal of our discussion of rewards and recognition focused on ways that were intended to reinforce behavior that the organization wants to see more of.
For example, the CEO of a global engineering corporation with 8,200 employees has made a practice of sending a personal thank you to people who have really contributed to process improvement, with a “cc” to the person’s supervisor. These notes are highly valued. Similarly, the CEO of a defense contractor also described how powerfully motivational a simple thank you can be. He was walking through one of his manufacturing plants and saw the operator of a machine that was under repair, cleaning the machine. He stopped to thank her, saying he really appreciated her effort because he would like the work place to be cleaner. The comment was so motivational that when he walked back
through several hours later, long after the repairman had left and the machine was functional again, she was still cleaning the machine.
Another organization has instituted a ‘Six Star’ program to recognize and reward people for giving excellent service.
Customers and employees can award ‘stars’ for service that they feel deserves recognition. Once employees receive six
such stars they are given a fifty dollar gift certificate. Another Partner described a high five on-line recognition, with a “cc”
to the Director. If the Director saw an accomplishment that was especially good, he or she could promote it into a “Round of
Applause” that would involve a gift.
Strategy #3: To Achieve Better (Measurable) Results
Some organizations used rewards to encourage extra effort to achieve specific goals.
Examples included a one year lease on a BMW that was awarded to the store manager with the best results, and a $20,000 President’s award that was given to the employee who generated the most profitable business.
At another organization, an additional one-week vacation was given to the employee who was deemed to have done the most for the organization in the previous year.
While each of these was awarded to an individual, the intent was to motivate many people to compete for the award. The assumption is that an unusual and substantial reward will inspire people to try and outdo one another in order to win — thereby increasing the results produced by all those who failed to win as well as the winner. These rewards rely on publicity and extravagance to generate enough interest to get everyone trying to win.
But strategies, goals and objectives do not always translate into the desired results. In fact, some rewards and recognition programs produced unintended consequences, which we’ll discuss in our next post.