Authors: Evelina Silveira and Jill Walters
I will never forget one of the first meetings I had when I was just starting my business. I met with a young financial services manager who was rethinking how the company was rewarding its top performers. He noticed that nothing much had changed with their rewards program over the last 20 years, even though the demographics of his sales team were completely different.
He told me that the standard reward for the top performers was an all-expense paid holiday in Las Vegas. No spouses were allowed. Predictably, the week consisted of drinking, gambling and the like. Typically the only people who would attend these events were Canadian-born males.
Eureka! He came to realize that something was not working. His workforce demographics had changed considerably. The same-old-same-old was not going to wash. Not only for him, but also for his top performers who were now comprised of women, single parents, immigrants, religious minorities and those who liked to take a vacation with their spouses instead of leaving them at home.
If he continued with the historical trip to Las Vegas every year, would he really be rewarding all of his top performers? No. Most would not want or be able to attend. And what effect would this have on employee morale and feelings of inclusion?
Bottom line: Critically examine your rewards and recognition program and see if it is truly inclusive.
Rewards & recognition ideas
Special recognition pins, thank you letters, gift cards, time off or a write-up in your company newsletter don’t cost a lot, but they show that you have made an effort to reward your employees. Here are some more ideas:
offer prime parking spaces—free! for a month!
hold contests with prizes for the best and most cost-effective reward system
install a diversity & inclusion suggestion box in your workplace for employees where you can post problems or issues you would like to address and employees—even those who may be too shy to speak up or who wish to remain anonymous– can submit their ideas and may even be awarded a prize if theirs is considered the best
ask your top employees what they need to succeed, extending that privilege to all employees, contingent on job performance
In her book, Care Packages for the Workplace- A Dozen Little Things You Can Do to Regenerate Spirit At Work, Barbara Glanz discusses more low cost and no cost ways to make employees feel appreciated valued and respected.
Consider how you would feel if you received the following types of recognition from your boss?
Business Cards Ensure everyone in the organization has a business card reflecting the uniqueness of the employee it represents. Consider adding a quotation, a motto or a graphic.
Handwritten Notes Send a handwritten note to at least one employee each week. Pick one consistent day of the week to get it done. You could recognize the special contribution this person has made to the creation of a better workplace.
Success Stories Collect company success stories on video or audiotape. Interview the people involved. It is a great way to demonstrate company pride and to introduce your organization to a new employee. Put the two-ton policy manual aside. Instead offer them a recorded compilation of your success stories. It makes them feel included right from the beginning and reinforces what a welcoming team they’ll be working with.
The best sources of recognition and rewards are tied specifically to the needs and interests of the recipient. There are a number of online programs and checklists for free that you can use that make a busy manager’s job much easier. Take a look at the following website. It’s filled with alignment tools, worksheets and more. http://bit.ly/1tZf25z
Evaluating a rewards & recognition program
Imagine for a moment that you are a financial services manager and the time has come to evaluate your rewards program. As a result, you discover how to reward and recognize more employees in more meaningful and perhaps cost-effective ways.
With that in mind, here are five questions to keep in mind when you are putting together a rewards and recognition program:
1. Are the criteria for rewards, incentives and recognition transparent?
Check at least once a year to ensure employees in all divisions are aware of them. Mention them during your employee orientation and in your employee communications.
2. Is the process for recognition well understood by all?
Supervisors and departmental managers can be responsible for this. If people don’t understand the process, then it is not a fair one.
3. Does the staff person still want to be rewarded and recognized in the same way this year as in previous years?
Maybe last year they received a day off, so maybe this year they would prefer a gift certificate.
4. Do you have a yearly plan in place which analyzes the relevancy and fairness of the recognition, incentive and reward programs?
Here is an opportunity for you to check with various departments and staff in different positions to see if the rewards are really what they want, and if they feel that they are truly attainable.
5. Is this the best way staff wishes to be rewarded?
This is an important question to be asked, either when a staff member first comes on board or as part of their orientation package. Some people, for instance, don’t like public displays of recognition. Make a check-list.
One of the biggest morale busters I have seen as a corporate trainer is when an employee felt that he could do the training but the company hired a corporate trainer instead. This can spell disappointment for the employee and may even lead to a sourness that spills into the diversity training session in ways such as discrediting the trainer or hijacking the workshop.
As a result, what could have been a worthwhile experience is spoiled. Trust me, if you don’t want to use an employee, at least give him a reason why or try to involve him in other ways that can help nurture his interest and competencies.
Ultimately, your goal is to create a culture of inclusion where the top talent you’ve hired is engaged and feel they can be themselves, where creativity and innovation are fostered and encouraged, and where the process is effective and yet cost-effective. As we mentioned before, juggling all these balls can be a daunting task.
Copyrighted 2015 Diversity at Work/Diversity Partners