Rewards & Incentives – What’s Important

October 3, 2021

 Right now, we have all heard how important employee engagement is.  How critical it is to retain the talent we have on our teams.  The current workforce statistics are driving these points home more than ever.   It’s always been important.  What we do or don’t do to attract, engage, and retain talent is and always has been crucial. 

As leaders some of the factors are beyond our control or scope.  However, there are many things we can do to reward and recognize our team members to help them feel like “they belong”.  That they are in the right place and doing the right thing.

I want to take some time and just highlight some of the basic actions we can take to help attract and retain good talent.  The challenge is that this is not a “one size fits all” solution.  We have to dig through our toolbox and use the tool for the right situation, person and/or team.  We can’t generalize and assume that the “X” factor is going to wow them and make them all happy.   It’s the old adage, “Different strokes for different folks”.

The first question is:  Is this an individual reward or a recognition for the entire team.  As their leader this is a logical starting point.  Once  you have determined that, the next step might be (if it’s individual) is this a “public” reward or is it best delivered in “private”.  Some folks just don’t like being in the limelight.  While others relish the idea of being recognized in front of their peers.  This really is all about you knowing your people.  If  you really don’t know,  then ask them what their preference is.

Now, let’s talk about some possible options.   Keep in mind that various regulations may impact some of these options, so it’s best to consult with the HR folks or perhaps Payroll experts.  Some options include:

A simply hand-written note to the individual or each individual on the team.  In this day and age, the hand-written note goes a long way.  I guarantee you they take it home and show their family.  It’s not something thrown in the trash can at the end of the day.  It’s  a keeper.

Maybe it’s some additional PTO or vacation time.  Might be a few hours or maybe even a few days.  Depends on the accomplishment and your company’s policies, etc.

Perhaps it’s a pizza party for lunch, a bagel breakfast, a dozen cookies or cupcakes from the local bakery, or maybe an ice cream truck on Friday afternoon.

Or could it be a small office ceremony to thank them for their hard work and accomplishments.   Take it to the next level and maybe they get “gold medals” in the Olympic spirit.

Gift cards are always popular.  Can be to their favorite restaurant or the movies.  This might be a great one – it gives them a “date night” with low or no cost for them and their spouse.

Maybe it’s some “silly” certificates.  Something everyone in the office will appreciate and find the humor in.  Or maybe it’s a “real” certificate  of achievement or appreciation.

This month – it’s a special reserved parking space in the parking lot.  Designated for them every day.   Have a sign made letting everyone know that and place it at their special parking place.

The Wall of Fame  – take a bulletin board and designate it so that each month or whenever appropriate you recognize folks by publicly posting their “story” on the Wall of Fame.  Make it visible for everyone to see.

This list is not all inclusive.  There are many different things that you can do to reward and recognize your team members.   It really in only limited by your creativity and budget.

While all these ideas are great,  what really matters most is your relationship with your team.  As a leader,  are you someone they (without hesitation) can sit down and talk to?  Are you comfortable asking how their family is doing?  Do you make sure you wish them Happy Birthday on their big day?  Do you do your part to establish and maintain the culture where folks want to come to work and do their best?  These are the important things.  That is how good leaders truly make a difference. 

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