It should go without saying that staff recognition and reward schemes should be aimed at motivating staff to exhibit the behaviors that companies want to encourage. Far from offering a bonus payment or some other kind of financial or non-financial award for doing what workers are being paid to do anyway, they should recognize and reward behaviors which are above and beyond the call of duty and which genuinely contribute something to the organization’s aims and objectives. All too often, however, managers use recognition and reward schemes, either as a means of currying favor with their team members and to make themselves look like the “good guys,” or in the mistaken belief that handing out rewards like candy will promote employee engagement. In fact though, if these schemes are used indiscriminately and inappropriately, they can have a detrimental effect on workers’ overall standards of performance.
Although this may not be something that employers want to acknowledge, many workers do regularly stop and weigh up, not only the effort that they themselves put into their jobs against what they are earning, but also the effort that other employees put in. What this can effectively mean in terms of recognition and reward schemes is that if Worker A sees Worker B being acknowledged for something which was merely part of his job description, then Worker A could very well see it as acceptable to step down his own performance levels in the belief that he must be overworking. Instead of the scheme working in a motivational way, therefore, it ends up having the opposite effect.
Special recognition and rewards must be reserved for those workers who do something which is both exceptional and outside of their normal roles and responsibilities, and they must be applied consistently by managers in different teams and departments if they are going to have the desired effect. If this isn’t the case, then employers could effectively find themselves paying workers twice (via salaries and rewards) for doing the same things, and workers could see themselves as justified in doing less to earn their regular wages.