Gym memberships, unlimited vacation, chef-cooked meals, a gourmet snack bar, free beer on Fridays, video games in the employee lounge — the list goes on. These are just some of the ‘perks’ new companies, startups with a ‘supportive workplace culture’, and highly profitable behemoths like Google and Apple purport to offer employees.
But ‘perks’ are not akin to employee recognition programs. Rather, they’re a nice complement and a great attractor for and an effective method of culling and mollifying the ‘top talent’. These offers are for every employee, across the board, and contributes, in an impactful way, to enhancing overall workplace culture.
Employee recognition programs, however, work on a slightly different psychology than perks and benefits. And building a strategic program can help round out a great workplace culture from all sides.
Offering individuals a ‘reward’, either to incentivise or motivate someone towards the achievement of an end result is a tactic that goes back to childhood and touches on a deeply rooted human need to ‘belong’.
Sherri Hartzell, professor at the University of Phoenix Online, explains that there are two types of rewards: extrinsic motivation and intrinsic motivation. While the former is based on external rewards that are set up to automate and reward certain end results, intrinsic motivation is much more powerful because it is internally powered.
Intrinsic motivation may be based on accomplishments or rewards that are important to the individual themselves and produce an internal sense of satisfaction.
But, what’s even more interesting is that, in the achievement of these accomplishments or goals, intrinsic motivation helps to build powerful habits that can then be carried over to other aspects of life.
These include time management, organisation, focus, self-discipline, consistency, and willpower, among other important traits.
The leading theorist of workplace motivation, Frederick Herzberg, rounds out this fact of human nature with his ‘Two-Factor‘ theory. In the context of work, there are certain factors that cause satisfaction and it’s not a reduction of these factors that cause dissatisfaction, necessarily, but, rather, the presence of an entirely different set of factors.
So, according to Herzberg, a workplace culture that uses a recognition program must focus on providing two things through the interaction between the program and the wider organisational values:
When it comes to employee recognition programs, there are two very important things to bear in mind.
These are often confused and otherwise well-intentioned recognition programs end up de-motivating and pitting employees against each other instead
When it comes to nurturing a team of highly motivated staff, it’s not a one-size-fits-all sort of dynamic here. And there are limits as to what various motivators can extract out of people before hitting a certain ceiling.
Motivators that improve performance in a sustained way can be:
To form the structure of an employee rewards program that is actually sensitive and responsive to the desires and needs of employees, businesses should:
To put into place a robust employee recognition and rewards program, here’s what businesses need to get started. These are rough stages that may or may not apply to an organisation, so take what applies and leave the rest.
Speaking of the carrot-and-stick routine, there’s one very important thing to keep in mind when building a successful employee recognition program that will promote a thriving workplace culture.
At no time can the program devolve into a ‘me-versus-them’ contest. Friendly competition between colleagues is just fine but rewards should not work to single people out while demotivating others.
Remember, the factors for job satisfaction are completely different than those for dissatisfaction. Make sure any employee rewards program smartly balances both.
To do so, consider running a ‘pilot’ or a ‘beta’ program that runs for a certain length of time, actively collects data and feedback and then makes changes so that the program actually reflects the desires of employees.
That is ultimately what makes a great workplace culture: a space and set of relationships that mirror the best values and most-desired behaviours of unique employees in a company.
Get in touch with our team of specialists today to find out how you can achieve your organisational goals with an engaging Employee Recognition Program.
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