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Incentives and Awards and Gifts, Oh My!

How many of us work for an organization that offers gifts for employees that hit important milestones? Five years? Ten years? If you don’t, then you are in the minority. According to a recent World-At-Work report, 86% of all organizations use length-of-service awards, by far the most popular type of recognition program.

And it doesn’t stop there. Organizations offer employees incentives to participate in wellness programs, they offer employee-of-the-month programs, and on and on. These are all designed to motivate employees to perform or to stay with the company. But do they really work?

According to Bob Nelson, who recently appeared in an episode of the Good Company Podcast, the answer is a resounding “NO!” Organizations waste countless amounts of money each year on recognition programs that have almost no effect on employees. If these programs really don’t work, then why do they waste their money? Answer: because they think that’s what employees want.

Though it may sound logical, the problem is that they never asked. Instead of finding out what employees actually value, and what is likely to motivate them, organizations spend an inordinate amount of money on these programs without considering that there might be more unique and innovative ways to get the desired effects. One recent example of an innovative program appeared in Employee Benefit News. Some organizations have begun to recognize that a small bonus or increase in the 401k plan or chintzy coffee mug is not likely to produce the desired effects. So, instead, they are beginning to offer…concierge services. Employees can have the oil changed in their car, have their dry cleaning picked up, and have other errands run, with little or no cost to either them or the organization.
Best of all, concierge services offer benefits that employees can use regularly. They don’t just get some coffee mug they’ll never use or a free lunch, but instead they have access to needed services without having to take time off. They provide employees with an increased sense of work-life balance along with the feeling that the organization values them. And, because such a program comes at a lesser cost than expensive bonuses, plaques, and lunches, it is a win-win all the way around. In this age of cutting costs and improving the bottom line, more small- and medium-sized organizations would do well to identify more innovative ways of showing employees that they value their contributions. This can easily be done with the most innovative strategy of all: just ask them!

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dr. Matt Grawitch published on May 30, 2008 2:33 PM.

Gas Prices Don’t Have to Drive Employees Away was the previous entry in this blog.

Face the Facts is the next entry in this blog.

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