Motivational Theory: When Employee Perks Don’t Work, Try Rewards and Recognition

Motivational Theory: When Employee Perks Don’t Work, Try Rewards and Recognition

by on 22 Jul, 2015

One of the most effective ways to entice top-level talent to your organization is with unique and enviable employee perks. But does offering your employees guaranteed benefits give them the incentive to work harder or remain a part of your company? 

Motivational theory at the organizational level suggests that success is relative to the way in which a company motivates its staff to perform in group and individual settings. Unfortunately, because employee perks are available to one and all, regardless of performance, they don't make the best motivational tools. Rewards and recognition for performance do, however.

Company perks are a necessity for attracting “A” players

Whoever said money can't buy happiness has never experienced the reaction to one of the newest employee perks: a cold brew coffee dispenser. In fact, there's an entire network afoot, providing businesses of all sizes with opportunities to foster their company culture with innovative benefits like:

  • On-site optometry

  • A nap room

  • Craft beers on tap (yes, you read that right)

  • In-office manicures

  • Chair massages

  • Flexible work hours

  • On-site yoga

  • Free haircuts

Millennials are actively seeking companies with these types of perks, but while they may entice them to come to the office each day, they don't drive performance. To learn more about managing millennials, click here. 

Come For The Perks, Stay For The Recognition

Social recognition is one of two ways to motivate employees which will propel your business forward. Allowing staff to celebrate daily achievements and behaviors greatly improves the atmosphere of your workplace. Empowering individuals in this way gives them the opportunity to create a legacy for themselves while helping to shape the company culture. Recognition creates a ripple effect throughout your organization, whose long term benefits include:

  • Providing public validation. Although an intangible benefit, recognition is invaluable to employees. validating an employee’s skill, time, and effort at work creates a sense of pride and motivates that employee to work harder to get that recognition again in the future.
  • Increasing productivity and talent retention. Employees are less likely to leave, and more likely to up their contributions if they know their effort matters.
  • Reinforcing a sense of community. By bringing everyone together to work towards a common goal, employee engagement is increased.

According to Forbes magazine, over two million Americans voluntarily quit their jobs each month, using data published by the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics - and those numbers show no signs of slowing. What are their reasons for leaving? According to a study done by Accenture, 43% of the labor force blame lack of recognition.

Just Rewards

Rewards and recognition go hand in hand, though they can often be distinguished by their value. Rewards are tangible, whereas recognition is intangible. Rewards needn't break the company bank but should be meaningful enough to provide incentives. They can be given out for virtually any reason, though the goal should be predetermined. And whatever reward you choose, make sure it's results-based: for being good, rather than just looking good.

The Theory Behind Motivation

Every organization has a set of objectives; those that are successful incorporate the principles of motivational theory to their advantage driving their employees to work harder and stay longer.

  • Perception - How employees view rewards offered is often based on equity. If they perceive the reward to be equitable with their effort motivation tends to increase. Inequities in value, however, or where other employees are thought to receive greater rewards, can lead to a decrease.
  • Reward - Typically, motivational levels are in line with the degree of expectation of the reward. Conversely, negative reinforcements should be used to discourage unwanted behavior which can negatively impact morale. Focus on providing rewards and recognition to those who place the company's goals before their own.
  • Productivity - Goal setting is proven to increase motivation and even more so when employees receive ongoing feedback throughout the project.

How To Foster An Amazing Company Culture

Company culture is something that is both cultivated, and organic. It's not that employee perks don't work to attract the best and the brightest, or that rewards and recognition aren't an effective means of making them stay, but establishing a successful family-style culture helps achieve both of these and more.

Respect and connectivity among employees promote productivity while creating a more positive work environment. Opt to make company leaders more accessible, rather than isolating them from those in the field. One of the greatest rewards you can offer is to let your staff be heard, and giving input and receiving feedback helps to foster team spirit. Group activities during and outside of work encourage collaboration, affording staff a chance to get to know each other on a more personal level and ultimately helping the company culture continue to thrive.

Successfully implementing a system of rewards and recognition is the best way to incentivize and motivate employees to work for you and remain a part of your organization. If you need help navigating the finer points of motivational theory and are wondering how it can help you compete against other New England businesses, give us a call, we'd love to help.





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Disclaimer: this article does not represent expert advice and is provided for informational purposes. Please get in touch if you would like expert HR advice.

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