Stop Demotivating Employees with Bad Recognition & Reward Programmes!

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Recognise This! – Employee of the Month programmes create competition and resentfulness, not appreciative work environments.

Compensation pros – when you think of base pay in today’s organisation, do you think in terms of guaranteed annual increases or in some form of pay for performance?

Most realise the former is the method a century old, whilst pay for performance in some guise is the far more modern approach. Yet, these same compensation and benefits pros often continue to cling to century-old approaches to employee recognition and reward.

Employee of the Month and similar limited winner, “popularity contest” methods for employee recognition should be long buried. The Monster Thinking Blog outlined reasons why in a recent post:

“Years of research unequivocally supports the conclusion that traditional employee motivation programmes actually decrease the overall morale and productivity of a workforce. Unfortunately, many well-intentioned human resource professionals continue to spend their resources attempting to create motivational programmes that, whilst they make sense intuitively, do far more harm than good.

“When I refer to traditional reward-and-recognition programmes, I mean … ‘dangling carrot programmes.’ … Among all programmes, “Employee of the Month” stands out as the most counterproductive.”

I’ve commented before that employee of the month programmes often devolve in one of two ways – either turning into a competition instead of praise and acknowledgment or becoming a “who’s turn is it this month?” exercise.

Let me be crystal clear – these programmes largely demotivate. They do not engage, encourage, motivate or appropriately recognise employees. As the Monster Thinking blog post points out:

“By the way, it becomes progressively more difficult over time to get employees who lose motivated again. Do you really want to have to worry about dangling carrots every day and every time you want your employees’ best effort?”

Any kind of recognition programme that intentionally creates “losers” is doomed to failure. What should you do instead? Recognise and show your appreciation for employees – all employees – who demonstrate your core values in contribution to achieving your strategic objectives. This eliminates both the competition and “it’s your turn” of failed programmes like Employee of the Month that have seen their time pass long ago.

Have you ever been named “Employee of the Month?” Was it an honor, a popularity contest, or “your turn?”

About DerekIrvine

About DerekIrvine

Derek is a seasoned, internationally minded management professional with over 20 years of experience working across a diverse range of industries. During his career he has lived in many countries including Spain, France, Ireland, Canada, Sweden, UK and the USA.

Derek also heads up the marketing, communications, product development and rewards teams at Globoforce, building a product that is industry leading, with a rewards portfolio that is now the most global and largest rewards selection in the industry today.

In his role as a thought leader at Globoforce, Derek helps clients set a higher ambition for global strategic employee recognition, leading consultative workshops and strategy setting meetings with such global organizations as Avnet, P&G, Dow Chemical, Intel, Intuit, KPMG and Reuters. An authority on the topics of employee engagement and recognition, he has been a guest speaker at worldwide industry and professional group conferences.


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