Stand-out employees are not a dime a dozen, and woe to the employer who forgets this. When you’ve hired people who work smart, aren’t shy about stepping up with new ideas, are team players and regularly do their best to make your business a winner, never forget to give them some sunshine.
Simply put, your business culture should be one that rewards people who excel.
A recent Gallup survey revealed nearly 75 percent of the workforce is not engaged in their jobs. You can avoid that common problem by recognizing your top players.
Create rewards that don’t come from a cookie cutter
Meaningful rewards don’t come from a single mold. They should be custom-fit for each employee’s individual style and interests. If you knew your boss took personal time to create a reward that fit your personality, unique skills and initiative, wouldn’t you be motivated to push even harder?
Some common rewards are financial bonuses, recognition at staff meetings, a day or two off for a long weekend. But get creative with your “thank you,” and you not only contribute to an environment where people enjoy coming to work, you’ll quicken the pace of your business exponentially.
Think about water-cooler chats. Inevitably, people who work together talk about their personal interests and activities. Pick up on that information to tailor your rewards – game tickets for the in-house Red Sox fan, Rachael Ray’s latest book for the cooking enthusiast, a certified Gettysburg battlefield artifact for the Civil War aficionado. The range of such personalized gifts is limited only by your thought and imagination.
And rewards don’t always have to cost money. Suppose a customer calls to praise an account executive. Get specifics about the rep’s methods, then share the details at a staff meeting and in an email memo to all employees entitled, “How to Get It Right.” If the customer has put his or her thanks in writing, post it, too, for all to read.
Don’t forget to reward the entire team when they excel on a project or seamlessly get through a work week. This is especially important if you’re in a difficult business. (What worthwhile enterprise isn’t?) Your office should be a place where employees feel they’re a part of something, and where their personal skills and goals are nurtured. Surprise them with an impromptu beer-and-brats party in your parking lot (root beer floats for the non-drinkers; tofu dogs for the vegetarians – don’t overlook individual needs).
But the biggest, most neglected and cost-free reward is consistent feedback and praise. Everyone loves recognition. Talk about personality and skill sets, and how to use those attributes to excel and build long-term career goals. Positive dialogue fuels trust, and trust fuels profits.
Reward risk taking
Decide what kinds of creative achievements are important to you, then reward the extra-mile attitude. People should always feel they’re getting farther ahead than they’d hoped. Rewards bolster that feeling. And they’re most effective when they result in employees feeling more passionate about their jobs.
If you’re concerned about expense or time drain, just make the reward proportionate to the person’s performance. Follow that guideline, and you’ll be able to determine what’s appropriate and merited.
Word to the wise
Decide on a case-by-case basis whether public or private recognition is appropriate. Reward in a way that encourages ambition, perhaps even competitiveness – but never fractiousness among team members. So-called “creative tension,” in which your employees are pitted against each other for advancement and other recognition, is far more destructive than productive.