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Ruined By Rewards?

The wrong recognition structure can do more harm than good

Three out of four companies formally recognize employees, but too many fail to tap into the focus that employees put on their jobs. Instead, they reward people for tenure or arbitrary achievements (employee of the month), or their recognition efforts are limited to particular groups like sales.

To make sure your recognition efforts pay off, be sure that you acknowledge employees for the progress they make toward business goals, states Michael Bertrand, Project Manager and Marketing Associate at TemboSocial, a Toronto-based consultant focused on improving corporate communications.

Bertrand offers two additional tips to help your recognition efforts succeed:

• Make sure recognition is fair. Your top salespeople may drive the bottom line, but don’t leave out the support staff who play a role in ensuring success.

• Tap employees to recognize their peers. Leader-directed recognition programs sometimes smack of politics and favoritism, and rarely recognize the “foot soldiers” on the front line of business.

“The great thing about tying recognition directly to business goals is that it sends the signal that everyone’s contribution is important. More to the point, it lets employees know that you value their efforts at moving the ball forward,” Bertrand says.

“By empowering employees to recognize their peers, you begin to change the cultural fabric of the organization. The responsibility for the success (or failure) of the business becomes more evenly distributed and employees start to see their daily efforts as more than simply cranking widgets and taking home a paycheck. They know that they are part of something that’s actually working.”