Everyone wants motivated, engaged workers. Unfortunately, the most common forms of employee motivation programs fall short, which is why it's no surprise that research consistently reveals shockingly low levels of engagement among the global workforce. If you've been investing in classic rewards programs to energize your teams, it might be time to stop wasting your money. What you need is an entirely different approach.
Rewards programs are common - and faulty
Gartner's December 2013 study, "Social Employee Recognition Systems Reward the Business with Results," evaluated the approaches company leaders from around the world use to manage worker performance and inspire greater productivity. The report indicated that organizations spend as much as 2 percent of their payroll budgets on reward or recognition programs, with the most common strategies focused on offering prizes such as money, merchandise, gift cards, plaques and certificates in exchange for accomplishments.
Despite what sometimes amounts to a fairly substantial investment, these programs are not generally successful. More than a third of the study's participants admitted that their recognition efforts have no notable impact on employee engagement, motivation or satisfaction. Gartner concluded that the programs have a number of core flaws:
- Infrequency. Without a consistent, continual recognition program, businesses fail to make their engagement initiatives a visible, tangible aspect of their company culture. In other words, intermittent celebrations or set-it-and-forget-it reward schemas are, in fact, easily forgettable.
- Focus on longevity. Many reward strategies recognized tenure, and this could actually have a negative impact on the workforce as a whole as seniority will appear to be valued over other important attributes that may be more critical to the company's success.
- Fleeting rewards. Monetary gifts and other prizes just aren't that memorable after the fact. Extrinsic motivations may work to inspire short-term efforts, but they won't foster the commitment and passion that create sustainable results through better engagement efforts.
Social recognition: A fresh approach
Clearly, employee rewards aren't very effective. Why do so many organizations use them? For many years, these strategies were really all that was out there. But a new, fresh strategy is emerging - and it has the potential to be transformative.
Social recognition platforms like TemboSocial Recognition, evoke intrinsic motivation to fuel sustained commitment and passion. Rather than attempting to bribe workers with cash prizes or other perks, this approach focuses on molding the entire corporate culture to create an atmosphere in which employees can thrive and feel driven to bring their very best to the table.
The strategy makes use of leading technological solutions, such as TemboSocial Recognition, to offer workers platforms for engagement and collaboration. Not only does this help to develop positive co-worker dynamics and a pleasant workplace environment, it also gives workers a venue to share their insights and positive co-worker experiences they are having each day. People feel validated and encouraged when they know their thoughts and hard work are respected. The end result is a more actively engaged workforce.
Best of both worlds
As long as the right foundation is in place, rewards don't have to be a worthless investment. In fact, Gartner emphasized that extrinsic incentives like gift cards can be powerful reinforcers for intrinsic motivation. The important thing is to have a comprehensive strategy that builds employee passion and commitment, adding lasting meaning to otherwise superficial programs.