Employee Motivation: Rewards Programs

Employee Motivation: Rewards Programs


Motivated employees are dedicated employees, right? It seems logical that there should be a connection between the two. And there are. In 1994, Thomas B. Wilson wrote a book titled, “Innovative Reward Systems for the Changing Workplace,” a still in print publication exploring effective reward systems, performance management and best practices. No, this isn’t a review of Wilson’s book but we will look at his five S.M.A.R.T. criteria just the same and expound on each point.

gift cards1. Specific – A clear connection between actions and rewards needs to be apparent. It should be as simple as if you produce “X” number of widgets over and beyond baseline thresholds, you’ll receive “Y” rewards.

2. Meaningful – What kind of return on investment are you expecting with your program? The employee needs to believe he or she is receiving something of value while the organization must see an improvement in productivity. A letter of commendation may be beneficial, but when it is delivered by the CEO in person, it can make all of the difference in the world. Personalize your program!

3. Achievable – The goals you set for employee or group need to be within everyone’s grasp. Not so easy where the achievement is without meaning, but not so difficult that few will even attempt the challenge. For example, if you want your team to close on ten percent more customers in the next month, that goal may be attainable. 25 percent or more? Not in this economy!

4. Reliable – Wilson says, “The program should operate according to its principles and purpose.” That means it must set out to do what it is designed to do: reward employees for an extra special effort. Don’t modify a program midstream unless you have your employees on board with the change.

5. Timely – Rewards programs need to be held regularly and recognition and/or rewards need to follow on the heels of improved performance immediately. Adjust your rewards program after the fact or scrap it in favor of something new and improved. Be careful not to scrap a program popular with staff as long as it remains cost effective.

Basketball coach turned motivational speaker Pat Riley would agree that a rewards program is important for your staff having said, “A champion needs a motivation above and beyond winning.” There needs to be something tangible and recognizable for your team to bring out the best that is within them.

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About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Matt's Musings", his personal blog. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and blogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".