Rewards or Recognition, Which Works Well?

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Material rewards such as a hefty bonus or gifts just add up to the junk we have at home and we really do not have any memory left of what we did with that amount or gift we got. But a memento, a certificate, a medal or a badge has always found its place on our showcase and files that it remains an everlasting memory, says Preeyan, in the weekly column, exclusively for Different Truths.

Most of us are always left with this dilemma as to what we should do to motivate our workforce. Do we recognise them by rewarding them in monetary terms or do we give them a standing ovation and a recognition by email or certificate, or a combination of both? In my opinion, the value of a certificate or an appreciation email goes a long way in terms of impact than a cash award.

Most of us work for the money, agreed! Most of us work to grow our status in our professional and personal life. Sometimes we are up there and sometimes we are down and out, but what keeps us going or look forward to in life are those instances that we cherish. It is important for members of a team/organisation that we motivate each other at every possible instance.

As a junior in my team, I have always appreciated my senior colleagues when they have done something good. If not anything, it leaves a confidence in that person, that their efforts and suggestions are appreciated and it motivates them to think positive. As I grew, I always ensured that I appreciate my juniors and my seniors if they have done something exceptional. A lot of times these kinds of things are forgotten by us. We even forget to show our gratitude to someone who has helped us get out of a tight situation. I remember once when I was a junior in the workplace I had by mistake added some amount to one person by mistake because their names were almost the same and those days most things were done manually and my senior colleague told me to talk to the guy who has got the extra money to get the amount due to the second person transferred and solve the issue amicably and apologize to the both of them for the mistake done. I did it and it worked very well. And I remember thanking my senior colleague and appreciating him for not having escalated this issue.

It was not a small mistake, people get fired for doing such mistakes. But this incident ensured that I was more careful and never made such mistakes in my career. And a few weeks later, I remember getting an appreciation in the team meeting for the way I was going about handling this task.

The impact of such a gesture and many such recognitions has accelerated my growth within the organization and my career development. And I believe same is the case with most of us. We are always motivated by a small appreciation, and we are always indebted to such actions, that we give a few more years to our organization than we expected ourselves to.

Material rewards such as a hefty bonus or gifts just add up to the junk we have at home and we really do not have any memory left of what we did with that amount or gift we got. But a memento, a certificate, a medal or a badge has always found its place on our showcase and files that it remains an everlasting memory. Every time we see it, we get a positive reinforcement of motivation in us that we crave for more. I have surely been driven by this and have always found it extremely fruitful.

In many instances, we have missed recognising some good work done by someone as we were extremely tied up with something and we have been keeping ourselves oblivious to anything going on around us. I feel that this is being unfair to our fellow colleagues, teammates or subordinates. We should always look for a chance, where we can give them this little dose of motivation called ‘appreciation’. You appreciate one good work and you will see that there are always better results you will get from the person you appreciated.

Cash rewards just don’t work because the motivation is just temporary and once people get used to getting cash or any material things as a reward for their good work, they will keep expecting this again and again. Unless we have deep pockets, we cannot really afford such things. Incentivising sales are for better profits and usually, the math works, but incentivizing productivity is not the right direction to take because one day, there will be a peak you reach and then for the same level of performance the expectation of monetary benefits will work against you.

Appreciation by a standing ovation is probably the best way to motivate someone. I have not got a standing ovation for most of my career but I feel that it will be a very motivating gesture for anyone in our team. Just imagine that today you have completed five years in your organization, and as you step into work you see everyone in the office just stand up and give you a standing ovation. Do you feel that? I do and every time I imagine, it makes me feel awesome. Some of us in the HR workstream should practice that and inculcate this habit at our workplace. Then whatever we give, after that a small memento or a medal will add the icing on the cake. The feeling we leave with the other person by doing such things is everlasting and we can be assured that there will be more people who are looking forward to completing 5 years in office. Your retention rate in your team will be improved.

I come from a service industry where we were always serving the clients in various businesses. What I have experienced is, what I have mentioned in my opening lines. We always crave for recognition from our clients, employer, and colleagues than looking at a monetary reward.

Let’s appreciate the good things in life and let’s not put a monetary value on it.


©Preeyan Abraham

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Preeyan Abraham is a HR professional. He loves travelling and all the little intricacies that it brings. A foodie, he enjoys cooking for relaxation. A movie buff and music lover, he appreciates simple things in life. He comes from a mix of religious backgrounds that has helped him appreciate all the good things of what all religions have to see. He looks at life as a platform created to perform and give the best.