The Best From the Rest

The Best From the Rest


It’s inevitable that somewhere, somehow, in business, a process is in some way dependent on an individual. Another way to look at this is that no business can exist if we keep people entirely out of it. Do your employees experience that they are the core of your business’s existence?

Do you regularly stop to say “Thank You” for a job well done? Do you acknowledge them when someone has gone the extra mile to help a fellow colleague or a client? Do your employees feel valued and appreciated for their efforts and commitment?

Reward systems work

Reward and recognition is a powerful way of encouraging the right kind of behaviour from your employees and to make your company an employer of choice. It’s one of the key elements that clearly distinguish the best from the rest. There are many ways to apply reward and recognition in the workplace and it does not have to cost you much. Here are some ideas of ways to reward or recognize your employees:

  • A gift or voucher

This can be for an experience like a massage or a voucher for the recipient to take his or her entire family out for supper.

  • A written thank you

We have found that a hand written note has the biggest effect. This could be given to the individual at work in front of his or her colleagues or sent via mail to their home. Alternatively it could be included in a flash email that is sent out to the entire organization. The most important thing is that you took the time to say “I saw that! It did not go unnoticed and it is appreciated.”

  • An increase, bonus or promotion

Increases and bonuses should always be performance related and it should be applied consistently throughout the entire organization. Be very careful that certain managers in your company do not give high scores more easily than others or give high scores for the wrong reasons.

Promotions should not be based on seniority, but on competency. Keep in mind that the fact that someone is good in a job as an expert and employee does not necessarily mean that the person will be an excellent supervisor or manager. Have a plan in place to advance experts within your organization without necessarily placing them in a managerial role.

  • Care

This aspect is about showing that you actually value your employees enough to be interested in them and really care about what interests them and what is going on in their lives. This can be done with a birthday card, flowers when they are in hospital, a gift when their baby is born and a sympathy card when they have lost a loved one.

These are small things that do not have to cost much. It makes a big difference receiving a sms to check how you are feeling when you are off sick at home with the measles versus your boss dropping your laptop off at your home, expecting you to work even though the doctor has booked you off. Not bothering your employees unnecessarily after hours also falls into this category.

  • Ask, Listen and Utilise

Asking for someone’s opinion, really listening to them and using their input where appropriate, shows that you value their point of view.

  • Trust

Showing that you trust someone to complete a project or take care of business while you are out of the office, without following up on them every five minutes, shows that you trust them and believe in their competency.

  • Training and development

Giving someone the opportunity to attend training and participate in projects for their own development (even if slightly outside of their current role) can be an excellent win-win reward for employees. It is wrong to waste a training opportunity on ‘dead wood’ in the organisation just because you can afford to have them out of the office for a day or two.

  • Awards

Having a system whereby an employee of the week or month is chosen, or the best performing team of the quarter is displayed and / or a trophy or certificate is awarded, can be a great way to recognize excellent performance.

  • Communication

Sharing information freely with employees and encouraging and participating in two-way communication is an incredibly important part of showing your employees that you value them.

  • Lucky draw

Let’s say you have a problem with some staff regularly arriving late. You can hold a lucky draw to reward one (or a few) of the people who have been at work on time the entire month.

  • Enable them to Pay It Forward

If you hold a random lucky draw it can also be with the requirement that the recipient spends the voucher in some way to do something nice with someone who has supported them at work in the last month or alternatively they can choose a fun activity for their entire department to enjoy together.

These things can do wonders to encourage teamwork within the organization. A variation of this is to let them choose a charity of their choice, for the business to support in some way or another.

  • Make their environment nice

As a reward for the achievement of a specific target, buy the big screen TV they have been wanting for the canteen area or the cuppachino machine for the kitchen. Alternatively give them a specific budgetary amount with which they can redecorate their office area to make it nice.

  • Being flexible and accommodating

If someone works through their lunch hour 90% of the time and then needs to take a two-hour lunch off site once or twice a year, accommodate this without demanding that they work in that extra hour. If someone is responsible and reliable, but needs to work from home for two days because their child is sick, be flexible to allow them to do that rather than making use of their family responsibility leave.

An effective reward and recognition system does not only include just one item from the above list, but combines multiple ways of acknowledging the hard work of your employees and showing them that you value and appreciate their efforts. Do not hesitate to ask your team what they would like as a reward (within a specific budget amount) once a specific target has been reached. The key to making a reward work is to offer what they value.

So you want your employees to be more productive and creative? You need to let them goof off. Here’s why.

Su-Mari Du Bruyn
Su-Mari Du Bruyn is co-founder of Adapt To Change. She is a qualified HR practitioner and logistics specialist and is passionate about Continuous Improvement and people development. Through Adapt To Change she assists businesses to improve their business performance and better engage their staff. Su-Mari also recently launched her e-book business guide, The Power to Ignite. Available exclusively on for Kindle, The Power to Ignite is a practical guide to the powerful art of Continuous Improvement, sharing proven methodology and highlighting important dos and don’ts in engaging staff and improving business results. Find her on Google+