“Can you remember the first gold star you received in grade school or the blue ribbon you earned for a science fair project? Can you remember your first winning baseball season where everyone on the team received a trophy and a trip to the Dairy Queen?
“Working in an enthusiastic and recognition-based environment sets the engagement bar even higher for business leaders in a tough economy, when finding ways to recognize outstanding performance and achievement is not as easy. Some of my business friends suspended their companies’ reward tool box as a cost-cutting measure during this recession. One said he did not want to take a bunch of flack about providing gift cards for hitting goals after a wage freeze. Another said employee feedback had already prevented her from implementing a new program that was developed prior to the recession.
“Using the troubled economy as an excuse to suspend recognition is the easy way out and may have a bigger impact on causing what I call ‘value decay.’ We set expectations to drive a culture of results and integrate rewards alongside those same expectations.
“Recognition needs to be an essential part of: keeping momentum in place; remaining focused on the goals of the business; and staying true to the values and expectations of our customers, suppliers and employees. Rewards need to take on a life of their own. Now is the time to turn up the creative juices to identify clever rewards that offer a meaningful payoff. You think they will come back to work wired for more? You bet!”