Great Leadership through Rewards and Recognition

“Recognition is a short term need that has to be satisfied on an on-going basis – weekly, maybe daily.” –

As competition rises, even the best and largest companies have to work very hard at gaining success and at raising the productivity levels of their employees. Huge amounts of money and time are spent on the endeavour of keeping employees happy and increasing their work output and quality.  However, these efforts would be wasted if the leaders of the company fail to regularly recognize and reward those employees that perform well consistently. Rewards and recognition are a robust means to employee satisfaction and motivation and great leaders understand the value of both.

As discussed earlier, while compensation is the top driver for employees, every employee is eager to receive regular and lavish praise in the form of rewards and recognition for their daily and long term achievements. Great leaders understand this need and are able to make sure that those that work with them are made to feel valued and important. Such leaders create a congenial work environment by ensuring that rewards and recognition are a part of everyday work life. Great leadership is when all those that make a consistent and visible difference through their hard work are recognized and duly praised and rewarded. Rewards and recognition are indispensable to the morale, satisfaction and success of the employees and the company as a whole.

Great leaders are able to inspire and motivate their team and should be able to lucidly explain the goals of the company, the team and individual ones, such that the employees have buy-in and follow the guidelines. Through rewards and recognition, which amount to praise and attention, leaders are able to motivate employees to ‘stretch’ their limits and exceed their own expectations and those of the company, customers and their leaders. With lack of praise and encouragement, no amount of money and effort spent will be worthwhile when employees are unmotivated and disgruntled and would leave the company sooner than later. Anyone running a company knows the disastrous consequences of high employee attrition and the negative repercussions of the same.

Great leaders understand the crucial nature of rewards and recognition and the far reaching positive effects that praise has on employees. In fact, as previously mentioned, recognition of hard work and achievements of employees must not be ‘reserved’ for the annual performance appraisal. Even small acts and gestures like praising a deserving employee on the work floor and or in a team meeting, shaking the hand and patting the back of a hard worker and or handing out a small token of appreciation like movie tickets or lunch coupons, will reinforce the kind of behaviour and work quality that is expected by the company. Those who don’t receive such rewards and recognition will strive to work better in order to be the next one up for praise! The great part of such methods of rewards and recognition is that they are not hard to do, take very little time and money (if at all) and don’t need a structured approval or lengthy process to get implemented. Yet the positive effects of these actions and words, act like a magic potion on the morale and mind-set of employees. Even leaders know that at their level too, recognition of their efforts would encourage them to work better and remain consistent in their efforts.

For employees to remain happy and loyal to a company, rewards and recognition are excellent methods. They insure the feeling of being valuable and important members of any company, irrespective of their job level and title. Rewards and recognition reinforce and stabilize an employee’s self-esteem and sense of purpose both on a professional and personal level. These methods serve as a compass that lets employees know exactly how they are perceived and what they need to do in order to continually receive more credit and acknowledgment of their efforts. In addition to being morale and satisfaction boosters, rewards and recognition also help to diffuse tension and reduce stress levels within teams and for individual employees. A smile, words of praise or even a pat on the back can uplift the mood and make anyone feel better instantly and great leaders understand this and use them effectively.

According to large number of studies and extensive research, a company that is committed and focused on its employees and has a robust rewards and recognition program, experience a number of benefits. Top among them are – a high level of employee commitment and loyalty; a workforce that is cohesive and takes pride in their work; employees who are willing to go over and above the call of their duty and deliver results that were not thought possible; a more congenial and collaborative work environment; improved and enhanced relations between the top management and all other levels of employees; a low stress environment that is enjoyable and many other such benefits. When these benefits are seen in conjunction with each other, it is easily discernible that the costs and efforts are negligible but the positive effects are far-reaching and innumerable.

An effective and efficient rewards and recognition program will remain so only when the leaders completely understand and implement the program correctly. In fact, it is the responsibility and onus of the company’s leaders to regularly use the guidelines of the program such that employees understand it to be part of the culture of the company. Just like most business endeavours, rewards and recognition should be a process – on-going, unfailing and consistent – in order for it to be successful. Also leaders must be careful to keep favouritism at by and only recognize positive achievements and those that are in line with the company’s goals, values and vision. Employee feedback must also be taken regularly in order for the leadership to understand whether employees find value in the rewards and recognition program and what they believe can be done to improve it.

As part of the rewards and recognition program, employees must also be given a chance to challenge themselves and the status quo. Giving employees such opportunities not only allows them to use their knowledge and skills but also expands them, raising their potential and puts them on the path of organizational success through upward promotions and increased compensation. Providing plum assignments, engaging yet challenging assignments and other inter-departmental work opportunities, tells employees that their contribution has been acknowledged and that the leaders believe that they are ready for the next level within the organization. Such methods are indispensable in retaining the company’s best talent and creating future leaders from within the company.

Another great aspect of the rewards and recognition program is providing consistent and value-added training opportunities to the deserving employees. These chances provided to employees are a specific, clear and vocal message from the leaders, that the employee contributions are valued and noticed and that the company is willing to invest in their betterment and professional and personal growth.

Rewards and recognition must be part of a leader’s daily routine. The value of such methods cannot be overemphasized and must never be undervalued.  This method works each time and yet costs very little in terms of time, effort and money on the part of the company. A happy employee set makes for a delighted customer base and leads to success and growth for a company.


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