Recognition and rewards are powerful tools of motivation and performance improvement in employees. Rewards can be of two different kinds, monetary and non-monetary. Monetary awards have known to bring about more motivation in employees than non-monetary awards; however recent studies beg to differ. Rewards and recognition usually have direct cost associated to them, for instance stock awards, cash bonuses or a variety of paid perks by the company which may include paid parking, gift certificates, car allowances etc. However other rewards, “non-monetary” that is, may be less tangible but still quite effective. These intangible rewards may include informal or formal acknowledgement of an employee and his work, more enjoyable job assignments, different training opportunities etc.  The primary goal of rewards as defined by Jack Zigon is “something that increases the frequency of an employee action” [1998]. Allen and Helms say that, “rewards systems should be closely aligned to organizational strategies, to achieve desired goals” [2002]. Keller suggests that “people are motivated to higher levels of job performance by positive recognition from their managers and peers.”

Recent research has shown that some employees are chiefly motivated by monetary rewards, and try to improve their job performance to achieve these rewards. Then again, some people see monetary rewards as vulgar and are discouraged by such offers. So it is important to understand, that not everyone can be motivated to increase work performance with financial perks. This second group is more likely to be motivated by non-monetary perks like having lunch with the head or getting an extra day off, being thanked at a departmental function is also a creative idea for motivation. Reinforcing is not the same as reward so the two terms should not be mixed, “reinforcement is intended to create a measured increase in the rate of a desirable behavior following the addition of something to the environment.”

Advantages of employee rewards

There are a number of advantages of employee rewards for both the employee and employer:

Employee advantages

•    Peace of mind
•    Better productivity because of the intention of reward
•    Pride in company and work
•    Employees enjoy work more because of appreciation

Employer advantages

•    Employee rewards help to retain qualified and trained employees
•    Eases companies financial burden
•    Improves productivity and efficiency

The incentive theory of motivation

Any rewards intangible or tangible is presented after an action occurs [behavior] with the intent to cause the action again. This is done by connecting constructive meaning to the action. Studies have shown that if the reward is received by the person doing the action immediately then the effect would be greater as opposed to receiving it later when the effect might not be as pronounced. If the action-reward combination is repeated several times then the action becomes a habit and the reward does not associate a positive outcome of motivation. Motivation basically comes from two sources: other people and from within. These two sources are respectively called intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. To apply proper motivation techniques is much harder than seems on paper. According to Steven Kerr, “when creating a reward system, it can be easy to reward B, while hoping for C, and in the process of it all harvest harmful effects that may jeopardize future objectives and goals.”

How important is money?

This is more like stating the obvious because money is important, in every sector, each person works with the intention of earning money. Then how can we determine why some people are motivated with monetary rewards while others are revolted by it. Peter Drucker suggests that, “there is not one shred of evidence for the alleged turning away from material rewards. Anti-materialism is a myth, no matter how much it is extolled. In fact, they are taken so much for granted that their denial may act as a de-motivator. Economic incentives are becoming rights rather than rewards” [1974].

Is there a doubt that we live in a money-motivated world? No amount of human relation resources can compensate for the lack of monetary reward. Who decides what reward is right, for whom? If the reward is right HR will give ‘that extra zest to a team’ leading to the motivation of that particular team, which leads to efficiency in work. However the “insufficient monetary reward cannot be compensated by good human relations.”

The term perks or perqs are often used ‘colloquially’ referring to those rewards of a more flexible nature. More than often, perks are given to employees who have proved themselves valuable with their effort and work to the company and are doing notably well than other or have seniority. Most common perks are: hotel stays, free refreshments, take home vehicles, allowances for lunch, paid vacations, leisure activities etc. Such employees may also be given first chance at job promotions if vacancies exist.

[adsense1]It is not just in the business world that employee rewards now exist, but also in other sectors such as sports. In football, players no longer play for their country because the perks are much better if they play for different clubs; the highest bidder gets the player. Also professional tennis players no longer prefer to play in Wimbledon because the rewards are no up to par. The situation is no different in the industrial world, strikes for better salaries and rewards still occur regularly at some place or the other, whether it is in the education or steel sector. Everyone is looking for better rewards and opportunities. Employees everywhere are fighting to achieve all this despite the psychologist’s claims that security is the prime need of any person. Today the needs of each person have surpassed security to much higher and varied needs. So can we say that the sense of value changes with time? The sense of self worth too changes with time. Here Keller is right in saying that, “Self-motivation can go only so far and it needs to be constantly reinforced by rewards. In particular, merit must be measured and rewarded regularly, if it is to be encouraged and sustained.”