Challenges around Rewards and Recognition How can you resolve it

In today’s modern workplace, focusing on a good R&R strategy is very important for HR professionals and people leaders. 

According to a survey conducted by Gallup, only 36% of employees report that their organization has a recognition system in place. 

While the value of recognizing and rewarding an employee is not tangible, the value addition that it has on the overall organization is unmeasurable. Creating a rewards and recognition system within an organization includes financial prices, the celebration of important milestones in an employee’s career, recognition of years served, milestones achieved, etc., either monetary or non-monetary.

With frequent recognition and rewards for one’s work, individuals stay motivated for a longer period of time, this ensures consistent productivity and performance from your employees, which in turn will add value to your business. Hence the business should focus and spend some time on perfecting its R&R strategy. 

It can be a great way to motivate employees. However, these programs can also have negative effects in the workplace leading to misuse by employees. 

Potential misuse of R&R policy

Creates a sense of individualism: 

One potential problem with rewards and recognition programs is that it creates a sense of individualism within the employees. It is seen as a measure of performance and not as success. It is a general perception that if any employee is recognized more frequently it is a sign of superior performance vs someone who is not recognized that often. This will defeat the very purpose of having a rewards and recognition program in your organization. 

A larger team will be recognized more often: 

Another potential issue is with the size of your organization. The largest team in the organization will always have a better chance of getting good recognition than a team of let’s say 2 to 3 employees, as their contributions are seen as more individual effort rather than team effort. 

Creates a sense of entitlement: 

Additionally, rewards, gratitude, and recognition can also inculcate a sense of entitlement within employees. If they start expecting to be recognized for every task that they perform, employees will be demotivated soon and this will lead to low productivity and overall job satisfaction. 

The question comes of how to solve these challenges. The value that a good rewards and recognition program adds to your business is important. Hence these are some of the things which can be solutions to the challenges: 

How can you avoid the misuse of an R&R policy?

Recognize publicly and instantly: 

Receiving recognition or a reward for the achievement of an individual should be instant. A delayed recognition won’t add any value to the employee and the individual will feel demotivated. More so, to highlight the efforts it should be given publicly. Recognitions given in public have more potential advantages and will boost employees’ confidence 10x than giving these recognitions in silos. 

Recognitions in line with company values

Recognition should be given in line with your company values. A good R&R strategy focuses on highlighting the values of the company that was achieved. This will eventually lead to the recognition given when an individual demonstrates a particular company value that the organization stands for. So the sense of individualism can be avoided and employees will be more in line with the behaviors that an ideal employee working in your organization should exhibit AKA your values. 

Allow Rewards and Recognition to flow freely

In general, rewards and recognition are meant to flow from top to bottom and within a team. This allows recognition to happen in silos, and the team with a higher number of employees always has a higher chance of getting recognized. 

A good R&R policy will encourage cross-functional, bottom-up recognition as well. This will allow a more free flow of communication and will encourage the employees to interact within cross-functional teams as well. 

Offer personalized rewards

Recognition should ideally follow a reward component as well. Recognition is made to celebrate when an employee achieves excellence in performance. Although, the reward you are giving will also matter in the overall context of recognizing an individual. Monetary bonuses and performance bonuses have a limited impact on morale as that is not personalized. Giving employees the choice of how they want to spend their rewards will empower them and motivate them more. 

Misuse of any policy is possible in an organizational context. All policies need to be vetted regularly to find any loopholes, and challenges and to keep them updated in general. Especially with a rewards and recognition program, it has to be handled carefully because it is associated with a monetary component. With a fair bit of misuse, we cannot stop the program altogether as that will have a direct impact on the productivity and morale of the employees. 

How does Springworks handle misuse of rewards and recognition program

We use EngageWith, our in-house rewards and recognition tool. We have seen scenarios, where a recognition made, was not in line with the company values, or it was given to the employee for a regular task that is expected out of them. While recognition for us is attached with a reward component as well, it is important we highlight the value of having a tool that allows you to recognize your peers, managers, and other teammates instantly and publicly. 

The above screenshot indicates how we decide to resolve the situation- we highlighted the scenarios where one should and shouldn’t recognize their coworkers or use EngageWith in the most optimized way. The idea is to not stop the rewards and recognition program altogether due to misuse but to explain the correct usage and set the expectations straight. This exercise helped us to make employees aware without a loss of productivity and morale. 

Rohan Mankad

I am an HR Executive at Springworks. I will be your one-stop resource for all HR thought-leadership pieces covering different topics.

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