Recognition and reward for working mums

Leadership consultant Jane Sparrow on how to reward and recognise staff.

Last week I found myself congratulating a delighted old colleague of mine on his new promotion. His self-esteem was sky-high and nothing could wipe the smile from his face – not even his revelation that his increased responsibility and longer hours came with absolutely no pay increase.

Financial reward for a job well done may no longer be any more guaranteed than sunny weather on a Bank holiday, but there are companies out there who are doing everything in their power to ensure staff remain at the peak of their performance – without any hint of pay reviews or bonus schemes. Companies big and small are having to think more creatively about how they replace golden handshakes with something compelling and meaningful to their workers.

My friend may not be cashing a bigger pay-cheque next month, but his motivation and drive couldn’t be higher. The recognition of his work had been noted by colleagues, customers and managers, but what sealed the icing on the cake was a company-wide email sent personally from the CEO.

The email outlined what my friend had achieved and it included outstanding comments and observations from the organisation’s biggest, most strategically important customer. In a sector severely impacted by the recession, customer loyalty is king. No wonder good news travelled fast.

As this story shows, recognising great performance and expressing appreciation doesn’t have to be complex or costly. As long as it comes across as genuine and authentic, managers can help others feel appreciated with very simple gestures – a chance to leave the office early one afternoon, a bouquet of flowers or a heart-felt ‘thank you’.

Inspired? Try these tips to help show others you recognise and value them.

Think outside the traditional rewards box: how about offering an employee a chance to gain work experience in a different area of the business or to identify a really supportive and inspirational mentor willing to help them?

– Take rewards outside the business. Many companies offer family centric events such as summer barbeques and cinema outings – simple gestures that recognise employees in their other important roles as partners and parents.

Spread good news: employees need to hear how and why others are being recognised for great performance. This can be anything from a verbal thank you at the start of a team meeting to a note of thanks in the corporate newsletter.

Keep a note of employee achievements, behaviours or attitudes that impress you and why. It’s good to refer to specific examples and not generic comments. Encourage others to do the same: it’s not just a remit for managers to spot great performance!

Make sure you are visible in the business so that you can see and experience great performance around you – and reward as appropriate.

Make appreciation a regular habit: once in a blue moon gestures aren’t enough.

Recognition is a powerful motivator – in fact, it ranks higher than pay in many surveys about employee motivation. Make it your consistent habit to spot great performance and reward it: what could you do today to show someone you’ve noticed?

*Jane Sparrow runs a management and leadership consultancy and will be writing regularly for Her book The Culture Builders is out on 30th September and can be pre-ordered on Amazon now. Check out Jane's blog here - it has tips and advice for managers and her website has tools, including video footage of leadership role models.


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