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The HPMD Bullet
Fall 1996
Copyright 1996, HP Management Decisions Ltd., All Rights Reserved.
Vol. 2 Issue 1

Employee Rewards: an inexpensive prospect by Steve Happ


Most managers will agree that reward programs are a good thing when tied to results. In our work with business performance measurement we find that these programs need fuel to enhance the motivation toward improvement. While it's true that the act of displaying results alone will create motivation, rewards will give the motivation an extra boost. Without incentives it is not likely that desired performance will ever be fully achieved, and that performance certainly won't be repeated. People act to achieve rewards, and to avoid punishments. But performance that is reward-based is always stronger, more creative, more durable, and certainly more positive.

A measurement program needs rewards to enhance motivation in the same way winning drives a football or tennis game. What does winning bring to a game besides the satisfaction of victory? The


cheers of the cheerleaders and the fans, the praise of their coaches, the write-ups in the press, the replays on TV, the interviews, the public appearances, the rankings, the division championship and the MVP, the bowl games, and the much coveted Super Bowl Ring. These are the incentives aside from outside of money. They are powerful motivators in their own right, in sports and in business.

Employee reward programs need not be expensive; all rewards do not have to be monetary. Rewards that are recognition-based are usually both powerful and inexpensive.

Here are a few rules for recognition rewards:
  • Rewards should be group and individual (e.g., Division champs and MVP) because people have a need both to be part of a winning team and to stick out.

  • Rewards should be:
    1. known in advance -- both the reward and the criteria to get the award
    2. tied to performance results
    3. meaningful
    4. celebratory (Public)
    5. timely
    6. a stretch to achieve, but winnable
    7. sincere
    8. worth working for
    • Rewards should be presented Anything that is presented should be done publicly with some pomp and circumstance, honoring the achievement. This is It's a reward to the recipient, and it also communicates to others what it takes to win and that winning is honored.

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      Employee Rewards... (continued from page 1)

      Here is a list of suggested, inexpensive rewards:
      1. The pizza and beer party.
      2. The golden statuette.
      3. The classic plaque or trophy.
      4. Take the individual or department to lunch.
      5. Give the individual and their spouse a night on the town.
      6. Recognize the individual or department at a company wide event or meeting (with significant fanfare).
      7. The awards dinner.
      8. The catered lunch.
      9. The Academy Awards ceremony. Best supporting team working in a leading role, and so on.
      10. The MVP award.
      11. The Most Improved award.
      12. The Rookie of the Year award.
      13. The reserved parking spot for a period of time.
      14. Use of the executive chair.
      15. The corner office for a day award.
      16. The departmental trip.
      17. The league awards: Division champs, the pennant, world series.
      18. The Top Gun award.
      19. The American Express gift certificate.


      Now for a word about bonuses. Bonuses are certainly an excellent reward as long as they adhere to the rules above. Without the recognition and sense of achievement, money is just pocket change. Presenting the bonus to the achievers at an event enhances the motivation and makes the reward more meaningful. Money as a reward is more expensive because the amount needs to be significant enough to be desired and worked for. However, care should be taken to communicate compensation for results, not effort. Be sure that bonuses are achievable by all, but actually earned by 80 - 90%.

      That's it for some simple tips on reward programs. Keep in mind that rewards complete a business performance measurement program in the same way that fuel makes the car go. And measurement grounds any reward program firmly in results.

      For a summary list of 21 tips for a reward program, see our rewards bulletin