The Four Ways You Can Waste Your Employee Recognition Budget

Jeevan Sivasubramaniam Posted by Jeevan Sivasubramaniam, Managing Director, Editorial, Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc.



The Four Ways You Can Waste Your Employee Recognition Budget

At some point or another you’ve been -rewarded’ for your hard work with only a t-shirt or some other form of recognition that just didn’t cut it. Cindy Ventrice has made it her life's work to educate managers about how to build real recognition programs that notice and value employee contributions. Here are five common types of recognition that still tend to be used despite having no positive effect:

1. Employee of the Month Awards -For most people, Employee of the Month is the first program that comes to mind when they think employee recognition. It is also the type of program that is most likely to be a supreme failure. Why? Generally, employee reaction is one of three: “Why did they pick her?” “It figures, since he is the bosses pet,” or “Who’s turn is it this month?”

2. Bonuses/Incentives - Bonuses and incentives get misclassified as recognition, but they are compensation. If you expect bonuses to change the level of satisfaction with recognition, you will be disappointed.

3. Trinkets - T-shirts, mugs, pens with the company logo, your employees have figured out that these are advertising, not recognition. You can turn a trinket into effective recognition. Provide a specific, sincere message along with the trinket and it becomes an example of meaningful recognition.

4. Gift Cards and Catalogues - There is a whole recognition industry built around gift cards and catalogues of merchandise, and they are definitely popular. Yet most of these awards end up being perceived more as compensation than recognition. Again, it comes down to the message that is attached to the award.

Meaningful recognition is always about the message. When you have the budget, awards are fine-if you remember to make them tangible reminders of something positive.

Do you agree? Disagree? Have other examples of recognition that are basically useless? Write in your comments below.