It’s nice to be nice, but recognizing and rewarding success in the workplace is about so much more than that. If done properly, it can be an effective way to motivate employees and increase their job satisfaction.

There are dangerous pitfalls to be avoided when introducing a reward scheme; however, unless the reward criteria are crystal clear from the start, there is a danger the scheme will be seen as flawed. Those not nominated may wonder why not, especially if they feel their contribution was just as significant.

If votes are used to decide who gets recognition it can turn into a popularity contest, and if a manager selects nominees without firm criteria in place, it can lead to accusations of favoritism. It is just as ineffective to pass the reward from one employee to the next if it is a mystery as to why those employees have been singled out for recognition in the first place. Subjective criteria can confuse employees, sap morale, turn the reward scheme into a joke and, in general, have a negative impact.

Set Out Reward Criteria

When implementing an effective reward scheme, the first step is to establish what it is the company wants to reward, be it years of service, team work or going the extra mile. This is a manager’s chance to reinforce and reward the actiosn and behaviors he most wants to see his team members repeat. Then set out the reward criteria and the selection process and make sure employees are clear about what they need to do to qualify for recognition.

Allow employees enough time to qualify for the recognition and ensure that every employee who meets the criteria receives the recognition, even if this means sharing a financial reward between them or placing their names in a draw to select a winner.

Don’t stay quiet about the achievements either. Remember that as well as recognizing past achievements, the reward should motivate others to strive for even greater success in the future, so name the successful employees publicly and include details in a company newsletter or company-wide email.

A Cash Reward

Money, or the equivalent in gift tokens, is perhaps the best reward for staff, but consider writing a note or letter to accompany the prize. Include details of what the employee achieved, why it was important and how it benefited the company. That way, once the money has been spent, the employee still have something tangible to mark the achievement.

Even if the successful employee is a little uncomfortable with publicity, it is important that the reward is presented publicly, for example at a staff meeting, so that colleagues know employees are receiveing recognition.

Remember it is part of a manager’s role to make employees feel important and appreciated, so take every opportunity to encourage and praise staff on a daily basis. By simple saying “please” and “thank you” a manager can help to create a working environment in which employees feel cared for. If implemented properly, a fair reward scheme can go a step further and motivate both the employees receiving recognition and their co-workers.