Staff Rewards: Motivate Your Top Staff

As every HR professional knows recognition is vital for retaining top performing staff. Christmas, Lunar New Year and new financial years are our busiest times for helping clients to choose motivational staff gifts and rewards. Here are our top tips for staff recognition.

How Do Awards Work?

The psychology of rewards is extensive, and people respond in different ways. To receive recognition from a well-regarded peer or superior triggers a physical response in the brain that makes us happier and builds confidence. It is just human nature to want to repeat that feeling, so a well-designed reward/recognition by a good manager will encourage staff to perform better in future.

Rewards also increase standing amongst peers. Some people like to show off, but most of us just like others to know that we are good at what we do. Staff will usually tell their friends and family about their new status, increasing their sense of fulfilment.

Why Should We Give Staff Awards?

Lack of recognition has long been one of the top 3 reason people leave a job. All companies operate on a limited budget so spending money on staff gifts can feel like an easy budget to cut. But given the cost of replacing staff is estimated to be between 50-60% of their annual salary (research by the Society for Human Resource Management) this is not an area to save money.

There is also evidence that “winning” actually changes our brain chemistry so that we become more confident and smarter too! And it is not just the individual but the team as a whole will get a bit better if someone gets an award.

Happier, smarter, more confident, higher-achieving staff. If that is not reason enough for you then you might be in the wrong job.

How to Do Awards Well

Recognition can come in many ways. A well-timed compliment, a bonus, a raise or even a promotion. Another great but inexpensive way to express recognition to staff is by giving a thoughtful award. A well-chosen award will show staff the company cares, and this recognition will repay your investment the whole year long.

If you want to maximise the motivational and morale-boosting impact of a reward, consider the following simple steps:

  • Separate financial rewards from non-financial: money has a very different psychological effect on people. It is important, so don’t ignore it, but keep it apart from your award programme.
  • Design for your people: Make it relevant to them. Are they competing as individuals? Are they working in large or small teams where they work together? What kind of things do they like? Do they work together in a place where they can show off their achievements to their peers?
  • Have a range of awards: There are a lot of different strengths in your team and you should reward those that you value. That might be best sales closer, best designer, most valued team member, etc. Try to encourage the features and behaviours that you want.
  • Give it personally: Don’t just leave an award on the desk, make a fuss about it. Get the staff together and celebrate excellence in front of their peers. That event atmosphere will increase the rush of endorphins for the recipient and give them a powerful buzz that they will remember!
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