Just Like Kindergarten

I laughed out loud while reading Telis Demos article in Fortune entitled, Motivate Without Spending Millions. Not from the absurdity-but just how right the author is about rewarding employees.

They cite an employee at Intuit who works on a massive assignment requiring lots of overtime hours-only to be given a gift certificate worth a few hundred dollars. Listen to the words of the recipient: "The fact that somebody took the time to recognize the effort made the long hours just melt away." WOW! Are you listening managers, CEOs and anyone else who works with people. Taking the time to recognize the effort is the key-not necessarily the amount.

And according to Globoforce, a source for part of the article, "The average prize should be just $110. I love one of their comments in the article: "Even billionaires appreciate a Christmas sweater from their mom." Here are some other keen insights from Eric Mosley, Globoforce's CEO:

  • About 80-90% of employees should get some reward every year... When you are trying to reinforce certain behaviors, you need to constantly recognize them.
  • Every week, 5% of employees should get an award. Any less frequent and people will forget about the program.
  • Small awards all the time are a way to constantly touch people.

His most revealing quote-the one that got me laughing in approval was "What really works... are the things you might dismiss as the stuff of Kindergarten: small awards, all the time, to almost everyone. Even high earners can appreciate a small award if it's unexpected."

So... how are you doing keeping your people motivated? Maybe you are trying to make things a little too complex and predictable. Kindergarten would be no fun like that, and maybe the workplace isn't either.