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Employee Engagement Program

Reward Program Pitfalls: Things to Avoid when Implementing an Employee Reward Program

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Rewarding employees and recognizing hard work may sound simple enough but unless a program is properly implemented it is in danger of failing and becoming a drain on resources instead of a drive for engagement. When implementing your own plan be careful not to fall into some of the most common reward program pitfalls:
  • Don’t show favoritism to any particular staff member and protect yourself against accusations of favoritism. The easiest way to avoid this is to have reward winners selected through peer-to-peer evaluation or nomination systems.
  • Don’t keep secrets! Make your intentions known by explaining to your employees why you are rewarding particular behaviors, why certain members of the team were selected for rewards, and specify the criteria for winning.
  • Don’t let it become a popularity contest. A little healthy rivalry is a good thing but you want it to be a competition of merit and productivity, not a race to get the most friends or to be the most liked employee. The latter won’t help your business but the former will.
  • Don’t neglect your staff. This one may seem peculiar – after all, a rewards system in itself is giving something back. Make sure you talk to your employees. Find out what makes them tick and what motivates them to work harder. Involving them in the process and ensuring that the rewards are right for them will inevitably lead to a stronger and more successful program.
  • Don’t give ‘thank yous’ in passing. Make sure that you have the member’s full attention and that giving the reward, even if it is simply a ‘thank you’, is made an event rather than an afterthought.
  • Don’t wait for months after the event to show recognition – rewards are much more effective if they are given immediately.
  • Don’t make the ‘losers’ feel bad. It’s important to make the winner of competitions feel good about themselves and to show your recognition but try to do it in a way that doesn't make other employees feel under-valued.
  • Don’t give out rewards regularly, regardless of merit. Whilst a free lunch once a week is fantastic, eventually it will become something that your employees will come to expect. Instead, use the surprise element to your advantage – it will mean much more if the employee wasn’t expecting it.

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