Best Ways to Reward Employees

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If You Want Happy Employees ...

We spend a lot of time finding good people to work for us, only to lose them to a competitor after they're trained. Why?

Employee happiness is not "all about the money" (although that is important)! Recognition and appreciation are also huge factors in employee satisfaction.

The points below are gleaned from an article on  We haven't added anything, just edited for length and added some formatting (if you'd like to read the entire article, click here).

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Every company needs a strategic reward system for employees that addresses these four areas: compensation, benefits, recognition and appreciation.

The problem with reward systems in many businesses today is they're missing one or more of these elements (usually recognition and/or appreciation).

A winning system should recognize and reward two types of employee activity-performance and behavior.

Performance is the easiest to address because of the direct link between the initial goals you set for your employees and the final outcomes that result.

Rewarding specific behaviors that made a difference to your company is more challenging than rewarding performance, but you can overcome that obstacle by asking, "What am I compensating my employees for?" and "What are the behaviors I want to reward?"

  • For example, are you compensating employees for coming in as early as possible and staying late, or
  • For coming up with new ideas on how to complete their work more efficiently and effectively?
  • In other words, are you compensating someone for innovation or for the amount of time they're sitting at a desk? There's obviously a big difference between the two.

When business owners think of reward systems, they typically put compensation at the top of the list. There's nothing wrong with that, since few people are willing or able to work for free. But the right strategy should also include an incentive compensation plan that's directly linked to the goals of your company for that period. You might want to include some type of longer-term rewards for key individuals in your organization.
Benefits are another type of reward in a strategic reward system, and your employees are definitely going to notice the types of benefits you provide.

  • Companies that don't match or exceed the benefit levels of their competitors will have difficulty attracting and retaining top workers.

However, you can't diminish the importance of recognition and appreciation as integral components of a winning strategic reward system.

  • These two elements rarely receive the attention they deserve from business owners.
  • Employees like to know whether they're doing good, bad or average, so it's important that you tell them.

Recognition means acknowledging someone before their peers for specific accomplishments achieved, actions taken or attitudes exemplified through their behavior. Appreciation, meanwhile, centers on expressing gratitude to someone for his or her actions.

Showing appreciation to your employees by acknowledging excellent performance and the kind of behavior you want to encourage is best done through simple expressions and statements. For example, you might send a personal note or stop by the employee's desk to convey your appreciation.

Another approach is to combine recognition and appreciation in the form of a public statement of thanks in front of the employee's co-workers or team, citing specific examples of what they've done that has positively impacted the organization.

Now that you know what it should include, it's time to review your strategic reward system.

  • Does it address compensation, benefits, recognition and appreciation?
  • Is it aligned with your remaining business strategies?
  • Is it driving the right behaviors for your company, as well as your performance goals?

If it needs fixing, don't wait. It can mean the difference between your business' success and failure.

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