Make it Count: Rewards Must Be Fun, Relevant And Valuable

If you thought that only factors such as compensation, incentives, and work environment helped motivate and retain employees, you are missing out a crucial link.

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By Rajeev Bhardwaj

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If you thought that only factors such as compensation, incentives, and work environment helped motivate and retain employees, you are missing out a crucial link.

Recognition, appreciation, and rewards for important contributions and outstanding performance are other key factors that keep employees motivated and ready to go the extra mile for the organization. While different factors may motivate different employees, recognition is something they all strive for.

A recent international study conducted across 116 countries by Gallup concluded that recognition and personalized feedback are "crucial predictors of positive workplace outcomes such as employee retention and productivity".

The purpose of recognition and appreciation is served through various means. One important means for the same is instituting effective and efficient reward systems that not only help recognize employees' achievements but also offer motivation and address important managerial objectives. Rewarding helps in retaining key employees along with improving the organization's business prospects.

As your prominent employees have an expertise in various key sectors, retaining them will definitely enhance your profits to a large extent. However, rewards need to be relevant and valuable, if you want them to have more than symbolic value. Dishing out monotonous trophies in the name of reward does little other than provide a few photo ops for the organization newsletter.

A reward system must be such that it offers rewards that are deemed valuable and worth striving for by the employees. Customizing them according to the needs of different employees is another idea new age organizations can toy with.

At the same time, the reward system should be transparent, impartial and credible so that it enhances trust among the employees. An ineffective reward system, on the other hand, can further repel the employees and make them feel cheated and uncared for.

In their efforts to set their companies apart and find ways to cut rising attrition rates, new age organizations are instituting remarkable reward systems that offer innovative rewards that are attractive and appealing. An effective reward system requires concerted attention in its development.

Not just recognizing accomplishments, rewards come as useful tools in making employees feel special on important days such as their birthdays, their tenure landmarks in the organizations and overall contribution to the teams.

How to Make Reward Systems Relevant and Valuable?

While we know that in a world of tenacious competition and rising attrition rates, reward systems are essential for reinforcing the image of an organization among key stakeholders as well as present and future employees. However, how to make reward systems useful is a crucial question.

Know what employees want

Gifting and recognizing are not new to Indian organizations. Traditional reward exercises involve arranging a felicitation ceremony, praising the chosen employee and providing him/her a trophy and certificate. Interested?

As discussed above, such exercises have little but symbolic meaning in the eyes of present day employees, and offer little meaning to the purpose of rewarding. If you want your reward system to be valuable to employees start by asking them what they consider useful rewards.

Different employees will seek different things. Some may yearn for a paid vacation, others may prefer monetary compensation, while another set of people may just want a day off as a reward to spend some time with their family. Discuss with your employees before arriving at a basket of possible rewards and customize the same according to the winner's preferences.

Offer Innovative Gifts

Rather than offer straight-jacketed, generic and meaningless rewards like company branded bags, pens, and notebooks, offer more innovative gifts and solutions to your employees. Many organizations are instituting process whereby they offer gift coupons of popular brands to their employees or gift them useful electronic gadgets like a kindle, or an IPad. Others are using the system to tell their employees that they care for their health by gifting healthy gifts such as treadmills, and devices that monitor the intake and burn value of your daily calories.

Involve families

Most of the time our reward systems are individual centric and include gifts for the employees only. However, involving families of employees in your rewarding systems is another key engagement exercise that makes them happy. For example, initiatives like a special five star dinner for the entire family; a paid vacation to the family members or a movie tickets for the entire family can be interesting ways of keeping not just the employees but also their families happy and engaged.

Have an element of surprise

The reward system need not necessarily include all high profile and hefty gifting tools. Even small but innovative initiatives like delivering a midnight cake to the doorsteps of your employee's home on his/her wedding anniversary can do a lot to cheer them up. Besides, organizations must try to shun monotony and attempt to keep an element of surprise in the gifts and rewards they offer.

Rajeev Bhardwaj

VP-Human Resource, Sun Life Financial Asia Service Centre, India

Rajeev Bhardwaj, who heads the Human Resource function at Sun Life Asia Service Centre, is a veteran in the field who has spent 25 years contributing to the HR policies of diverse organizations across sectors.

Over the years, Rajeev has been associated with a slew of global organizations such as ABB, Coca Cola, and Intel Technology, among others.

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