Should We Offer A Number Of Different Rewards For Better Employees?

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The traditional way to "reward" superior performance is via money and bonuses. While these rewards CAN be used to improve performance, for many employees bonuses won't work because either they are too delayed and remote from performance, or are not large enough to make any different in the employee's lifestyle.

For this reason, and others, like the sometimes unintended consequences of monetary reward, we suggest that companies offer a range of rewards so they can be "fit" to what each employee will perceive as valuable.

Rewards, per se, need not be expensive, and in fact, having a diverse buffet of possible rewards will often cost the company less money.

Tips For Using Diverse Rewards For Different Employees

  • Rewards should have the approximate same value in objective terms. You can't reward two employees differently, if one of the rewards is actually too low cost. Then again, consider the next tip:
  • There's no particular reason to use a "one size fits" all reward, so consider allowing the employee to "pick" from the buffet of rewards available.
  • Rewards work best if the employee knows AHEAD of time what he or she is working for. For this reason, a discussion of available rewards should be with respect to the NEXT evaluation period, since obviously a reward can't improve past performance. Incorporate the discussion in meetings where you set employee goals.
  • You can still offer the reward buffet for past performance, of course, but it will have less impact on improving performance.
  • When dealing with recognition type rewards (non-tangible atta boy), remember that many people do NOT like being in the public spotlight. Often managers can be better off praising in private, but it depends on the staff member.


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Bacal & Associates was founded in 1992 by consultant and book author, Robert Bacal. Robert's books on performance management and reviews have been published by McGraw-Hill. He is available for consultation, training and keynote speaking on performance and management at work.


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