In the world of management, the phrase "What gets rewarded gets done" (LeBoeuf, 1985) holds significant weight. Research has consistently demonstrated that human behaviour is strongly influenced by its consequences. Among the myriad of management techniques and motivation programs for employees, one that stands out for its effectiveness in enhancing employee performance is rewards and recognition programs. Yet, it's surprising that many organizations underutilize these programs despite the fact that most employees yearn for recognition and appreciation (Brun & Dogas, 2008).
In this blog, we will explore the profound impact of rewards and recognition programs on employee motivation and performance. We will delve into the art of using these tools effectively by drawing insights from experts like Kyle Luthans (2000) and Herman Aguinis, Harry Joo, and Ryan Gottfredson (2013).
The success of any rewards and recognition program hinges on clearly defining expectations. This is an effective tactic used in many motivation programs for employees because employees need to know what is expected of them and what behaviours will be rewarded. Aligning these expectations with the organization's values and goals is crucial (Luthans, 2000). When recognizing an individual, avoid vague statements like "good job" and instead provide specific, meaningful feedback. This clarity ensures that employees understand what they are being recognized for, motivating them to repeat the desired behaviour in the future.
Timing is everything when it comes to reinforcing positive behaviour in motivation programs for employees. Employees should be rewarded promptly after displaying exceptional performance. Timely rewards reinforce the connection between outstanding performance and positive outcomes. To address the challenge of providing monetary rewards constantly, consider implementing a reward points system that can be later redeemed for cash, goods, or services (Merrill et al., 2011). This approach allows for timely recognition and gives employees the flexibility to use their accumulated points when it suits them.
Fairness in a rewards and recognition program is paramount to maintaining positive attitudes and behaviours among employees. It's essential to make all employees eligible to earn rewards, avoiding exclusivity (Ambrose & Schminke, 2009). This perception of fairness boosts motivation levels across the organization. Additionally, ensure that promised rewards are genuinely available (Aguinis, 2013). If circumstances change and certain rewards are no longer feasible, transparently explain why these changes are necessary (Greenberg, 1990).
Monetary rewards are the most common method used to reinforce employee behaviour. They can be powerful motivators in conjunction with motivation programs for employees, leading to increased performance and even improved retention rates (Jewell & Jewell, 1987). However, it's crucial to note that not everyone is equally motivated by financial incentives (Beer & Cannon, 2004), and for some, they may even have negative consequences (Chib et al., 2012).
This is where recognition steps in as an indispensable leadership tool. It is easy, cost-effective, and holds a special place in the hearts of employees. Research by Stajkovic and Luthans (1997) has shown that social recognition can have a more significant impact on employee performance than monetary rewards. Unlike financial incentives, recognition taps into a different level of motivation (Long & Shields, 2010). The synergy between rewards and recognition is evident - combining both in a comprehensive rewards and recognition platform yields the highest levels of employee job performance and is an effective part of greater motivation programs for employees.
Rewards and recognition programs are not just buzzwords but powerful tools that can significantly influence employee performance and be effective additions to motivation programs for employees. By following the principles outlined above, organizations can harness the full potential of these programs to create a more engaged and productive workforce. Remember, when it comes to boosting employee performance, it's not just about what you reward; it's also about how you recognize and appreciate your team.
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