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1001 Ways to Reward Employees, by Bob Nelson

If you have not had the opportunity to read Bob Nelson’s book, 1001 Ways to Reward Employees, I strongly suggest that you do soon. Walker Research, an Indianapolis-based firm, states that when the job market comes back in 18-24 months that all employers can expect to lose approximately 50% of their workforce. With that being said what you doing now to make sure that your employees are motivated to stay with your company?


Nelson’s book focuses on both informal and formal rewards and recognition. As Aubrey Daniels, a leading authority on performance management explains, “You reinforce behaviors and reward results.” So, for informal or spontaneous rewards, you want to 1.) Match the reward to the person, 2.) Match the reward to the achievement and 3.) Be timely and specific. Formal rewards are useful for formally acknowledging significant accomplishments, especially as they span a long period of time. They can also lend credibility to more spontaneous, informal rewards used daily by managers in an organization. When determining rewards and recognition a good rule of thumb to follow is: For every four informal rewards (e.g., a thank you), there should be a more formal acknowledgment (e.g., a day off from work), and for every four of those, there should be a still more formal reward (e.g., a plaque or formal praise at a company meeting), leading ultimately to such rewards as raises, promotions and special assignments.


Daniels also recommends that leaders be held accountable for effectively recognizing employees and those organizations avoid using blanket or “silver bullet” approaches to motivation. “Jelly bean” motivation – giving the same reward to every member of the organization – not only does not inspire employees to excel, but it may actually damage performance as top achievers see no acknowledgement of the exceptional job they have done.


Catherine Meek, President of Meek and Associates, offers guidelines to make reward and recognition programs effective:


  • The programs should reflect the company’s values and business strategy.


  • Employees should participate in the development and execution of the programs.


  • The programs can involve cash, noncash or both.


  • Since what is meaningful to you may not be meaningful to someone else, the programs should encompass variety.


  • The programs should be highly public.


  • The programs have a short life span and must be changed frequently.


So, if you don’t have a copy of Nelson’s book and you need help with ideas for rewards and recognition, get one today. This is one of the better sources on this topic that you will find that will assist you with motivating and retaining your workforce for tomorrow.


Written By: Kristen Shingleton, M.B.A., CCP
President, New Focus HR LLC


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New Focus HR is a human resources consulting and training company that services all organizations. Our expert team collaborates with businesses to attract, motivate, retrain and retain their biggest assets, employees. While engaged with an organization, our focus is to find solutions that improve the company’s internal HR-related practices while increasing results at the same time! Our focus. Your results.

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