Cold cash hasn't lost its charm as an incentive, but a workforce clamoring for work-life balance has learned to disregard cash when faced with other considerations. The toolbox of the modern human resources professional has expanded to include rewards like attention and recognition. Nelson, in "Motivating Employees with Informal Awards," cites four characteristics of a good employee-recognition program:
- Recognition should be immediate. It should be given as soon as possible following the demonstration of a desired behavior. An increasing time gap between the desired behavior and its reward devalues the behavior and diminishes the reinforcement value of the reward.
- Recognition should be delivered personally. Manner of delivery matters when it comes to social rewards. The importance of the desired behavior is underscored to the employee when a superior takes personal time to recognize and praise the target behavior.
- The recognition and social reward given should be valuable and meaningful to the employee. Some employees like to be appreciated in private; others may desire appreciation to be shown in front of peers to increase their likelihood of a promotion. The human resource professional should customize the non-financial reward to the recipient.
- Recognition should not be phony or superficial. It should link directly to the desired behavior in order to yield the desired effects (i.e., reinforcement of positive attitudes toward the desired behavior).
- Offer greater number of reward options to employees.
- Identify what is meaningful to your employees.
- Keep recognition programs fresh.
- Train managers on best practices in recognition.
- Recognize all levels of employees.
- Make sure recognition is given consistently.
- Develop a peer-recognition program.
- Does the employee like to be publicly or privately praised?
- Would the employee like to receive recognition from any specific person?
- Does the employee prefer any particular type of reward?
Nelson, B. "Motivating Employees with Informal Awards." Management Accounting 77.5 (1995): 30.
Maritz Research, Inc. "Bosses Not 'On The Same Page' as Employees Regarding Recognition." October 2005. http://www.recognition.org/associations/5847/files/maritz_poll_2005.pdf (accessed June 15, 2007).