TGIM: Rewards vs. Awards

28 Nov

Trophy - A Form of AwardToday we’re back with our TGIM series, or Thank Goodness It’s Monday.  Each Monday our posts will focus on employee engagement and we hope to hear your thoughts on Twitter using the #TGIM hashtag or with a reply to us @SageHRMS.  

Engaging employees is a constant challenge for managers. Factors ranging from the state of the job market to the natural lethargy of a Monday morning have the power to plague energy if not handled properly. Accordingly, managers often equip non-monetary incentives to keep workers confident, productive, and loyal.  It’s the type of incentives they employ though that impacts overall engagement levels. Usually, they boil down to this: rewards and awards. But what’s the difference?

Employee Awards

Employee awards are a fitting topic of discussion given the approach of the year’s end. While the enthusiasm for year-end awards tends to fluctuate from company to company, many organizations rely on them to inject some excitement into company culture. The end of the year is the perfect time to publicly acknowledge the specific accomplishments of individual employees. Organizations may want to create a host of categories and nominate several workers for each.

Some critics of these programs, however, argue that they isolate certain workers and may even breed resentment as a result. Proponents hold that they nurture healthy competition and engage workers by offering recognition. Even employees who are dissatisfied with their jobs may enjoy a spark of enthusiasm if granted an award. Another added benefit, that many of these awards are low to no cost to employers.

If you plan to initiate an awards program, you need to be careful about how it’s implemented. What kinds of traits do you want to address? There are a range of categories, such as most-improved, best salesperson, best attitude, top idea, most productive department, etc. Employers can also take a less serious approach, and offer awards in categories such as “funniest sales mistake” or “coolest office.”

Employee Rewards

Rewards programs are different in that they are ongoing and based on more measurable performance criteria, such as sales figures and growth projections. They are similar to awards programs in that they aim to motivate employees, but they differ in their fundamental strategy.

Rewards may be monetary – such as year-end bonuses and pay raises – or procedural – such as vacation days and scheduling benefits. They also vary in terms of their managerial strategy. Some rewards programs may be aimed at retaining or attracting talent, while others are focused on driving sales figures.

Like awards, rewards programs are usually based on individual performance and recognition. However, rewards tend to be less public, as they are focused on driving the motivation of an individual team member.

What are some other ways managers can engage employees through rewards? Let us know what you think on Twitter by tweeting with the hashtag #TGIM, or reply to us @SageHRMS.

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