3 Ways to Reward Your Employees


We attended our grandson’s (he’s four) pre-school Christmas play. After the class sang the first song there was silence and one little boy said, “Miss Michele, shouldn’t people be clapping?” After some snickering the audience burst into loud applause. We recognized them for their hard work, enthusiasm and just because they were our kids and grandkids. We were proud of them.

Those of us who lead people can learn from this little boy’s question—shouldn’t we be applauding?

In most cases the answer is a resounding, “YES!”.

Dan and Chip Heath’s new book, The Myth of the Garage points out that, “In a survey of 10,000 employees from the 1,000 largest companies, 40% of workers cited ‘lack of recognition’ as a key reason for leaving the job.” That’s even more incredible when you consider the unemployment numbers—it’s not like new jobs are that easy to find. Yet, people are leaving because they feel the need to be recognized.

What are some ways we can give people recognition?

  • Be grateful. It’s taking the time to just say, “Thank you” to people who are busting it for you. It’s stopping your texting, email, always-in-meetings life and expressing how grateful you are that your people are working hard, doing a good job and lining up with the company’s vision.
  • Be obvious. People like to be shown recognition. An email is nice, but a personal visit and written thank you note are so much more personal and appreciated by the employee.
  • Be consistent. Recognizing your employees is not just a program. It’s part of your everyday job as a leader. Stay true to it and you’ll have happier, healthier and eager employees. Guaranteed.

So let’s break out in applause for our people. Cheer them on and recognize their efforts.

Do you have a unique way to recognize your people?  Let me know.



2 Responses to “3 Ways to Reward Your Employees”

  1. Jim Seybert says:

    Wayne – just saw this on Scotty Morrell’s twitter feed. Good stuff. Funny story about the little guy wanting (needing) affirmation.

    Question: Why is it cute and totally OK for a little boy to do this, but when it comes to affirming grown-ups we figure they’ve “out grown” the appetite for significance? In “A Whole New Mind” the author Dan Pink writes that we all hungry for “beauty, meaning and significance” in our lives.

    If you are responsible for managing the performance of human beings, it just makes sense to do whatever you can to maximize that performance. Some managers use negative incentives to squeeze performance – with legendary and infamous results.

    Why do otherwise intelligent managers miss this? Habit? Culture?

  2. Wayne says:

    Jim, it does make sense but we often blow it. Sometimes it’s pride—we hate the thought of somebody else getting the credit or we’re so bound by ego “we” have to have the breakthrough ideas. Sometimes it is culture—there are cultures of competition, complacency and chaos (and more). Each one presents issues for truly recognizing great performance. And, the sad thing is, most employees don’t always think about money as a reward. A nice “thank you” and appreciation goes a long way. OR, the manager/leader actually knowing their people well enough to give them something they really want or need (from new guitars to symphony tickets to a day off to something for the family).
    Thanks for the comments—your voice is always welcome here.

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