Many of us recall our positive experiences at work with the number of times we have been rewarded for a job well done.
Rewards originated in very primitive times and hold relevance till today after passing through various stages of evolution. From God’s benedictions for unparalleled devotion to the valuables awarded by kings on display of talent to olive leaf crowns for olympic game winners; rewards played a significant role in promoting the desired behaviours since the history of time and ages.
The current form of Rewards and recognition has formally evolved in the advent of Industrial Revolution where workers were motivated by giving incentives in the form of monetary rewards. Fredrick W Taylor has used scientific theories for proving positive impact on performance through rewards.
Since then rewarding has become a common practice in any organised or unorganised setup where results depend on individual performance. Employers started rewarding employee’s loyalty and performance that exceeded expectations.
The most common types of awards used to be:
1. Monetary or cash awards
2. Personalised gifts and memorabilia
3. Sponsored entry to events and entertainment
4. Sponsored vacation and;
5. Items of high Value
In post pandemic world, organisations are undergoing a huge transformation and are gearing up to accommodate multiple workforce arrangements. The R&R programs that worked in past may not work in future. There is a need to assess, evaluate, redefine and implement new forms of reward management programs that fit for purpose for all kinds of employees be it full time, contractors, gig workers, freelancers, partially in office or fully working from home.
The ABCDE of key considerations while evaluating existing programs or conceptualising new rewards programs are as below:
A- Adaptable : Is the program modular enough that can be adapted to fit the needs of different set of employees in multiple workforce arrangements
B- Beneficial : Is the perceived value of the program high or low as compared to the cost and time investment in design and delivery of the program. The program should be such that actually benefits and adds to the employee value proposition
C- Customised: Does the program benefits presume the needs of employees based on workforce generations or gender. There is a strong merit in customisable rewards and benefits that focus on needs of individual persona rather than the relating needs to common traits of the workforce generation in which individual employee belongs. Not all Gen Ys are job hoppers and all millennial may not be tech savvy!
D-Delivery and Reach: What and the channels of delivering the reward. Can it be shared and communicated at large. The value of reward is manifested multifold if it’s reach is wider. Is the employee able to showcase being rewarded on formal and informal channels for social connect and engagement.
E-Ease of Administration : Is the Program administration self sustainable after launch and initial stability period or requires perennial time and efforts to administer. Key here is to leverage technology and use of aggregated solutions that provides scale and ease of administration.
Apart from the considerations to design and assess the reward programs another important aspect is to define who should be rewarded and what for.
Imagine a workplace where average performers are awarded for routine tasks, or every team member gets rewarded in a matter of one quarter or another. Or only chosen few are rewarded again and again What will happen in such situations that over a period of time Reward program will loose the perceived value in minds of recipients and it will eventually fail to promote the desired behaviours and performance outcomes.
For ensuring fairness, criteria for rewarding should be communicated and outlined. Consistent and clear standards of exemplary level of performance and what qualifies as awardable behaviour should be defined
To summarise there is no one size that fits all when it comes to type of rewards.
-Be creative while designing Rewards
-Provide freedom to choose
-Amaze your target audience
-Use technology and aggregated platforms
-Be vocal about Rewarding
-Leverage all channels of communication and
-Celebrate the individual employee
The author is a senior Total Rewards professional and has proven specialisation in creating differentiated Rewards and benefits programs multinational companies