Ten Best Ideas in Communicating Rewards and Recognition

July 1, 1998
Advice from experts on recognition and rewards.

  1. If you’re using a monetary rewards approach, such as stock options or profit-sharing, don’t apply a top-down formula (executives rewarded first; line workers last) but instead focus on rewarding key positions—positions in which having an excellent person makes all the difference.
  2. When deciding how to reward employees, think about what makes them happy. It sounds basic, but it’s an approach all too often ignored.
  3. Consider having a departmental approach to rewards and recognition. This allows each area to tailor goals specifically to its business. Tighter, well-defined goals are easier for employees to achieve than broad "help the business" goals.
  4. Don’t restrict the company to the formal program. Encourage managers to give spot bonuses—cash, dinners and the like—for individual or team excellence in specific projects.
  5. Before rolling the program out, conduct a few focus groups to ensure employees are primed for a new form of recognition. If they seem cynical, you need to know so you can address it in the presentation.
  6. Creativity in communication is fine, but make clarity the top priority.
  7. A mediocre program well communicated is more useful than a great program poorly communicated.
  8. When you pick winners, make sure to communicate exactly what they did to win—clear examples are helpful to the rest of the workforce.
  9. Consider e-mail and voice-mail updates—on the program, on the nomination process and on the selection of winners. This keeps the program’s goals foremost in employees’ minds.
  10. Follow up. Talk to employees. Ask them how they think the company is doing. If they give solid answers related to the program’s goals, you’ve succeeded. If not, something’s wrong.

Workforce, July 1998, Vol. 77, No. 7, p. 32.