Are reward charts in the office an effective motivator?

Every employer wants a motivated workforce. Motivation means loyalty, reduced staff turnover, higher productivity, better morale, enhanced customer services … the list goes on. Actually achieving a motivated workforce is another matter. Part of the problem is that you can’t switch motivation on like a light, but there are 1001 ways for motivation to be chipped away until it reaches lows you find difficult to reverse.

And what is the number one cause of staff feeling demotivated? It’s feeling like their efforts are going unrecognised – or worse, that someone else is picking up kudos for their hard work and ideas.

This is the real value of a reward chart. It’s not only a stamp of recognition that their efforts have been noted; it’s also a good way of ensuring other colleagues or managers don’t secretively try to take credit – if they do, they’ll be found out.

So how does this help morale? First and foremost, it creates an open atmosphere in the office. There’s no point trying to undermine people because your claims can easily be challenged. Second, people like to think (rightly or wrongly) that the hard work they put in will be remembered when there’s a round of promotions, salary increases or, however unfortunate they may be, redundancies or relocations.

Setting up a reward scheme

Initiating an office reward scheme is pretty simple, but each case will be different, and will depend on the make-up of the office. The biggest challenge is to ensure it’s open, transparent and fair. As soon as there’s a suspicion of cronyism, people will switch off. If the guy who’s friends with his boss outside of work keeps winning rewards for distinctly average work, the rest of the office will tut, roll their eyes and treat the whole thing as a charade.

Transparency can be achieved through having measured and reasoned declarations of why points were rewarded. If it’s sales, new client wins or such like, it’s relatively straightforward. Less obvious things can be harder to reward, but it’s always worth making the effort.

Who decides who gets rewards is also important. Depending on the structure of the company, it can be owners, middle management or team leaders, for example. However, some successful rewards schemes have been set up where colleagues vote for each other, anonymously. That way, a softer set of skills can be rewarded than hard stats, which is often a welcome thing. Also, it gives those middle managers a chance to be rewarded for good … well … middle-management!

Tokens make rewards visible

A great way of arranging a rewards scheme is to use tokens, which are awarded to individuals or departments that have earned them. Because they are unique, they can’t be manipulated, as would be the case for a simple sheet of paper or a computer app, and they provide a visible record of who’s performing well and who needs to catch up if they want treats. Whether you take it deadly seriously or as a bit of fun is up to you, but there’s no debate about whether it works or not – just ask companies who implement rewards schemes.

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