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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Corporate Recognition Programs in the Workplace

Chess King Trophies by Julie Gentry
Over the years, I’ve worked at a considerable number of companies. I’ve witnessed some happy employees and some not-so-happy employees who seemed to be waiting until they could qualify for their pension and retire. It is much more pleasant to work with the former. However, I do have to say, there were times where having more of the latter around was a good thing. Wisdom is power, and while the soon-to-be retired crowd might not have been the happiest to work with, they knew how to get things done, and were rewarded for it.

Whether the new or seasoned employee, what kept them motivated beyond just a paycheck was the corporate recognition programs that were in place. What’s been in place where I’ve worked in the past has varied considerably. While one established company might like it when an employee can reduce costs by a certain amount, and reward the employee with a certain percentage of that, a new economy company is less focused on cost savings and more focused on time-to-market. If you can cut development time in half at a cost of a couple of million dollars, that’s okay, as they’ll make it back in the long run if they were first.
Here’s a look at a handful of ways that I’ve experienced a better quality of life through corporate recognition programs. When I was happier, I performed better. Lose that edge and the drive just isn’t there and at times that’s when you start looking for that next opportunity.

The chief motivator for many people is money. However, you can’t just raise everyone’s salary and hope for the best. Well, at least one company has tried that with 70K salaries for everyone, but I have no experience with that company. The problem with just raising everyone’s salary is it increases the cost basis every year moving on. Give someone a 5K raise and that 3% increase adds another $150 the first year and more the next. Do it for everyone in a company and the total can get high fast, and even higher each year. Instead of (or in addition to) getting an extra salary increase, I’ve experienced one time bonuses, stock grants, and something as simple as nominating a coworker for a $50 gift card. The bonuses are certainly nice. The stock grants only really work for public companies. You can have high hopes for private, pre-revenue companies, but sometimes stock grants can act as a demotivator, too, if the valuation goes down. While not something I’ve ever personally experienced, being worth a million on paper is nice, but if you can’t liquidate, it isn’t worth the paper it is printed on. Think of creative ways to reward people in addition to just providing a paycheck. Having an ice cream truck show up for everyone on a summer Friday is a great way to take a break and cheer everyone up.

Besides money, another motivator for some people is time. Just blindly handing out more vacation time is typically not an option for most companies. Something as simple as a day off after a long project is delivered is a great way to recognize key contributors. Have a hard deadline right before a big trade show? Recognize that effort and give the appropriate staff staying behind a couple days off during or right after the show. Have a concierge service on call can also be a blessing, too. Let the service worry about the details of something like a dinner reservation if employees are kept too busy to deal with certain situations. Even just having something around to wrap Christmas presents can be a big help to employees.

It is important to realize that many employees are not purely motivated by money. You can’t just throw more money at a person and assume they’ll be happier. If the deadline-driven work environment is preventing a normal home life, some people would rather just see their child at a school play then spend the month working an extra 20 hours a week for maybe 3-5K. When you have a good corporate recognition program in place, that is easily understood by the employees, it will lead to an improved quality of life in the workplace. Customization can be the key where you understand what motivates everyone.
*Read my Disclosure


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