hard work: recognising and rewarding

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Hard work, hard work, hard work! For success in business, there’s simply no satisfactory substitute for good old-fashioned hard work. And if your company is thriving, you’re no doubt surrounded by some hard workers. But here’s the killer question: what are you doing to keep your hard workers producing at a high level? Are you giving them the recognition and rewards they deserve? What’s the incentive to work hard beyond plain and simple personal satisfaction for a job well done? How are you maintaining not just high return on investment, but high return on individuals?

Work ethic and intrinsic motivation come standard for some employees, but even they can get burned out if they don’t feel validated for the hard work they do. With the right amount of attention on recognition and rewards for hard work, you can not only keep your hard workers producing, but also encourage and raise the vision of those who struggle to work hard.

Recognising a job well done and rewarding hard work is key to keeping morale and motivation high. But you may still ask if recognition is really worth it? And do the benefits outweigh the challenges? We’ll go over a few reasons some companies choose not to recognise their employees for their hard work, and then explain why rewards and recognition are not only beneficial, but crucial. Next, we’ll show you some specific ways to reward your employees and keep your team banging on all cylinders.

1. Why do some companies fail to recognise their employees for their hard work?

  • Time. It does take a little extra time to actively recognise outstanding employees. Your time is precious, but so is your employees’ time. Thank them for the time they spend by taking a minute to recognise their efforts with a heartfelt thank you or a nice little reward.
  • Money. Not only do most rewards cost money, but the time spent recognising someone is time neither you nor they are working. You’ll find, however, that taking a little bit of time for recognition will improve the employee’s remaining time in the day as their morale will be boosted and they’ll work with increased motivation knowing they are appreciated.
  • Some fail to implement employee recognition programs because they don’t see the financial benefit. While the financial benefits may be harder to see, it’s critical to remember that the success of your company has just as much to do with the mood and morale of employees as it does with the money they are making for the company.

2. Why should you recognise and reward employees for their hard work?

  • People have a fundamental human need to feel appreciated. Feed that need and your employees will perform at a higher level.
  • Rewarding your employees for their hard work will help you retain quality employees. If they feel they are giving their all with no appreciation in return, they may start looking for a job elsewhere. And hard workers are hard to come by, so they may get snatched up by another company if you don’t make it worth their while to stick around. In fact, research found that organizations with recognition programs which are highly effective at enabling employee engagement had 31% lower voluntary turnover than organizations with ineffective recognition programs.
  • Regularly recognising and rewarding your employees can lower stress and the other negative effects of a hard work week.
  • Enhanced teamwork can come as a result of recognition for team performance.

3. Ways to Recognise and Reward Your Employees





Give them freedom

One of the best ways to reward employees for their hard work is to simply give them the opportunity to work the way they want to work. Having systems in place is helpful as it can give employees a good baseline and framework for success. But in the event of an employee consistently going above and beyond, it may be healthy to lift some of the rules and regulations beginning employees have. For example, maybe your company has a policy on the minimum number of hours an employee must be in the office in a given week. If an employee proves through their hard work that they can produce at a high level, consider giving them some more leeway. You may be surprised that with more freedom in their work they might even become more productive.

Make the rewards personal and meaningful

Giving bonuses is easy, and no one can lie and say that people don’t appreciate them. Giving rewards and recognition that actually hold value can be a little more difficult. It may take some creativity and can require taking some extra time to get to know your employees on a personal level, but giving personal, meaningful employee rewards can keep the fire of motivation burning long and strong within your employees. For example, if Jim has a favourite band, get him tickets and surprise him. If you know Lisa’s favourite candy bar, reward her for her hard work by having one waiting for her on her desk when she comes in.

Encourage peer-to-peer recognition

Who knows an employee better than that employee’s closest coworkers? Often as a manager, it can be difficult to know the contributions of every employee. Team members work very closely with each other, and if you can encourage them to give frequent praise and recognition where it’s due, the whole mood of your organisation can remain positive and productivity will flourish. And it doesn’t stop there, customer satisfaction will soar as well. Maybe consider implementing a ‘brag board’ where people can anonymously recognise the hard work of their fellow coworkers.

As you evaluate your company’s current focus on employee recognition, remember that there really is no one-size-fits-all solution. You may choose to try different approaches and varying levels of rewards and recognition. And don’t forget that even little efforts to show appreciation for a job well done can go a long way. Start giving back to those who make your company what it is and it’ll pay dividends.


By o.c. tanner
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