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Tis the Season to Reward Employees

By   /  December 12, 2011  /  2 Comments

By Glenn Thomas


1001 Ways to Reward Employees by Bob Nelson

With everyone focused on the holidays and the giving of gifts, I felt this was the perfect time to post a review of this wonderful book that’s been a mainstay of my work library for years. You don’t have to have a title or a position to be one of the true leaders of your business unit. As such, you should recognize the need to reward those you work with.

It has been stated time and again in survey after survey of employees that the one thing they wish for  – is recognition of a job well done. This supports Frederick Herzberg’s research. Praise doesn’t cost a dime but that doesn’t mean it should be cheap. Be honest with your praise and make it as specific as possible. A comment such as, “Bill, great job on that thing last week,” as you walk by on your way to a meeting comes off sounding extremely hollow and will likely hurt your credibility more than it will help morale.

Bob Nelson has put together a wide variety of ideas on how to reward those people that make you look good day in and day out. Originally released as part of the “1001 Ways to…” series back in 1994, this book is as essential today as it was back then. The book is broken down into headings covering both informal and formal rewards, as well as awards for specific achievements and activities. For most supervisors and managers with no budget for rewards and no deep personal pockets, the informal rewards section is the ‘go to’ area.

This section of the book covers such areas as no-cost, low-cost, communication, social rewards, fun celebrations and public recognition. Each of these sections is chock full of ideas of every shape and size to fit the diversity of your workforce. Always remember that what works for one person may not work for the next, so you still need to know your staff regardless of the method you plan to use. Planning a public recognition event for an introvert may not turn out the way you had hoped.

One idea that I have personally used with success is the use of candy as rewards. When an employee has done a specific job above and beyond, I’ve gone in and said “I wish I could offer you a raise for the great job you did on the (fill in the blank) but how about an extra PAYDAY instead.” It never fails to get a chuckle and it is appreciated. Similarly, a bag of LIFESAVERS goes a long way toward thanking someone for ‘saving the day’ by averting a crisis or resolving it quickly after it is identified. (Obviously offering a PAYDAY to someone with a peanut allergy also wouldn’t provide the desired result.)

This is also the perfect time of year to consider treating your staff or team to lunch or provide them with a small token of appreciation for the job they do every day. If the numbers are large, ask the next level of management if they would assist with the cost or suggest a pot-luck. This distributes the cost but still allows the employees to be gathered together to hear honest words of praise and appreciation from management.

If you are at a loss for creative ways to reward your employees or simply want to consider expanding your possible options, this could be the book for you. It is available at many public libraries or used copies can be purchased online for as little as $1.00. At any price, this is definitely a work present you should consider buying for yourself.

About the author

Glenn has more than 20 years of experience as a programmer, analyst, and project manager on systems development projects and research missions around the globe. The past 10 years have been spent serving in a variety of leadership roles in the application development, data and enterprise policy and standards arenas. His background includes time spent in the US military, private industry, and the public sector. Glenn is a Certified Data Management Professional (CDMP – DIQ), a Certified Public Manager (CPM), and a Project Management Professional (PMP). Glenn was the recipient of the 2009 DAMA International Government Achievement Award and is a former President and VP of Communications for the Project Management Institute’s Kentucky Bluegrass Chapter.

  • This sounds like a great read. Perhaps I’ll buy a few copies and leave them sitting around the office.

    • Glenn Thomas

      Great idea Karen – you never know who might pick it up or what recognition/reward seeds it might plant in their head.

      Thanks for commenting!


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