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Informal Rewards

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Believe it or not — while money is important to employees, it is not the top motivator. What tends to motivate them to perform, and to perform at higher levels, is the thoughtful, personal kind of recognition that signified true appreciation for a job well done. In fact, it’s the informal — that is, spontaneous — rewards and forms of recognition that can be implemented with minimal planning and effort by almost any manager that are the most rewarding.

There are a variety of informal rewards that can be used in any workplace. Here are a few for you to consider:

No-Cost Recognition

Some of the most effective forms of recognition cost nothing at all. A sincere word of thanks from the right person at the right time can mean more to an employee than a rise, a formal award, or a whole wall of certificates or plaques. Part of the power of such rewards comes from the knowledge that someone took the time to notice the achievement, seek out the employee responsible and personally deliver praise in a timely manner.

Want some no-cost recognition ideas? Try these: Call an employee into your office just to thank him or her; don’t discuss any other issue. Post a thank-you note on the employee’s office door. Volunteer to do another person’s least desirable work task for a day. Answer the person’s telephone for a day. Have your company president or your manager’s manager call an employee to thank him for a job well done.

Public Recognition/Social Rewards

Most employees perceive the use of personal and social reinforces as highly desirable. In fact, in a recent survey, 76 percent of American workers ranked recognition at a company meeting as a meaningful incentive.

To motivate employees, honor those who have helped you by recognizing them at meetings. Mention the outstanding work or idea brought to your attention by an employee during staff meetings or at meetings with peers and management. Nominate employees for any of the company’s formal reward programs. Recognize (and thank) people who recognize others. Be sure it’s clear that making everyone a hero is an important principle in your department.

Communication

Numerous motivation studies show that employees typically place a high value on getting information about their job, their performance, and how the company is doing. When that communication is personal and timely, it is all the more highly valued.

Plan to meet for informal chats with each of your employees at least once a week, finding out what aspects of their jobs they are focus on and how you can better assist them, and generally answering whatever questions they have about the department or the company. And remember to pass the word — When you hear a positive remark about an individual, repeat it to that person as soon as possible. Seek the person out if necessary. If you can’t meet, leave an email or voice mail message.

Time Off

One reward that is given in most companies is time off. Whether it is a free day or a six-month sabbatical, this form of recognition is universally desired by employees. The Walt Disney Company grants an extra five-minute break (or a candy bar) to the employee who fines the guest who has traveled farthest to come to the park. Cygna Group, and engineering and consulting firm in Oakland, CA, has a Take the Rest of the Day Off and Do ________ Reward. After finishing a big project, for example, a manager might spontaneously give the people involved the rest of the day off and take them to a ball game — often springing for the tickets and beer.

Fun/Celebrations

Most employees would prefer to work in a fun environment in which they can enjoy their jobs and their coworkers. To add some fun and boost morale, consider these ideas: Designate a bulletin board as a place for employees to post favorite jokes, cartoons, etc. Schedule an Ugly Tie (or Crazy Sweater or Silly Socks) Day with a joke prize for the winner. Take a daily humor break; designate someone to share a joke or funny story with the rest of the staff. Bring a Polaroid camera to work. Take candid shots to employees and post the results throughout the office.

As you consider these ideas, remember that they will be more effective if they are tailored to the individual preferences of the people being recognized. So, the way to begin is by asking your employees how you can best show appreciation when they have done a good job.

Bob Nelson, Ph.D., is president of Nelson Motivation Inc and a best-selling author of 1001 Ways to Reward Employees (now in its 52nd printing), 1001 Ways to Energize Employees, The 1001 Rewards & Recognition Fieldbook, The Management Bible among others, and teaches organizational behavior at the Rady School of Management at the University of California, San Diego. For more information or to register for Bob’s FREE Tip of the Week visit www.nelson-motivation.com.

Informal Rewards
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This entry was posted in Business.
About Bob Nelson
Bob Nelson, Ph.D., is president of Nelson Motivation Inc and a best-selling author of 1001 Ways to Reward Employees (now in its 52nd printing), 1001 Ways to Energize Employees, The 1001 Rewards & Recognition Fieldbook, The Management Bible among others, and teaches organizational behavior at the Rady School of Management at the University of California, San Diego. For more information or to register for Bob's FREE Tip of the Week visit www.nelson-motivation.com. WebProNews Writer
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