Discriminate. Differentiate: Creating an Effective Rewards and Recognition System in the Workplace

I once had a staff who, after working with me for a year requested to transfer to another department. Asked why she wanted out of my team, she openly told me she does not feel appreciated for all her effort. Upon probing, I learned that she believed her consistency in coming to work on time should have been recognized.
Pardon my observation, but we have come to time when most employees expect to be recognized and rewarded for merely delivering as expected. As Meghan Biro puts it in her article published in Forbes.com, “We’re becoming a culture in which people expect to be rewarded for drawing breath and taking up space, which makes the job of an HR pro or business leader tasked with employee retention a difficult one indeed.” It’s a culture of entitlement, one in in which employees feel they deserve recognition for doing a good job and such must come with material rewards to be of value.
The question critical for people managers and HR professionals then is, when is recognition really due? To be effective, should every recognition come with rewards? Most importantly, how do we highlight exceptional achievement from good performance?
Before a company sets up a system to reward its team members, it has to ensure managers know exactly what behaviors deserve recognition and rewards. Discriminating between levels of performance, to begin with, is important. Quite often, people managers and HR fail to draw a distinct line between average and truly exceptional performance, so it is critical to consciously educate team members about their differences. Once this clear, rewards must be aligned with the desired performance level so that recognition and rewards truly reinforce good behaviors. Here are some best practices:
1. Know what we are recognizing and rewarding. Recognition is only effective when its recipient is aware of what he or she has done exceptionally well, and why such matters to the company. Remember that random affirmations are much less meaningful than those tied to a business goal.
2. Identify, seek buy-in and monitor SMART goals and Key Performance metrics. This way, employees are aware of targets, and since there was buy-in, are expected to commit to them. By keeping track of performance, we have a way of knowing who among your team members are falling below, meeting, or exceeding expectations.
3. Discriminate and differentiate. Meeting expectations is just about delivering as expected, they are not as impacting as exceptional performance are to the organization’s goals. We acknowledge good behaviors, we recognize and reward exceptional contributions.
4. Give timely feedback. Whether giving praises or criticisms, make sure it is on time, best if we do it in the moment.
5. Mean it. Human touch is critical to giving genuine recognition. Technology nowadays offers sexy, smart ways of praising team members, but make sure it does not make recognition just a knee-jerk reaction to good behaviors.
6. Rewards, given the cost it entails, is not always about cash. Studies say that aside from monetary icentives, further education also works for those driven to grow and advance in their career.

As HR practitioners, our employer looks up to us for guidance in creating and improving rewards and recognition system. We can only equip our managers if we are cognizant of best practices and emerging trends. Getting global perspectives bring a greater depth of appreciation on new ways of recognizing and rewarding exceptional performance.

Learn more from renowned HR Gurus at the Philippine HR Congress #GlobalHRLandscape on August 27-28, 2015. Below are the details of this annual learning event. See you, fellow HR.

The Philippine HR Congress
Leveraging Innovation and Competitive Advantage
August 27 – 28, 2015
8:00 AM to 5:30 PM
SMX Convention Center,
Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City, Philippines

If interested, you may sign up by contacting the following numbers or registering online: www.ariva.com.ph.
370-9961 to 63
(Globe) 0917-3257870
(Smart) 0919-6142598
(Sun) 0932-5985708


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