Monday, December 14, 2009

Appreciation <> Rewards

These days it seems impossible to keep employees happy. About 60% of 900 employees surveyed by Right Management said they’re leaving once the economic situation eases up and 21% are ‘networking’.

Derek Irvine from Globoforce makes a compelling case for lack of recognition and overwork as top reasons for leaving.

According to Peter Cappelli on HRE, the reason people leave is because their rewards don’t match their expectations and are therefore perceived as ‘unfair’.

(In other words, people believe or are told they performed better than others but the rewards tell a different story.)

Added to this is the whole confusion with low performers thinking they’re high performers.

So, let me get this straight:

If you give employees a low performance rating they disagree because low performers think they’re God’s gift to your company.

If you give employees a high performance rating with an average monetary reward they think they should have gotten more than the average performers.

If you can’t afford to reward employees they gripe about lack of honest communication and recognition.

BUT if they get honest communication and recognition without monetary rewards, they think you’re stringing them along.

It seems like there’s just no pleasing some people. Or any people.

Perhaps. And I think we could stand some more gratitude on the employee side of the table for having a job right now. But let’s be clear about one thing: Appreciation <> Rewards.

Saying thank you is NOT a reward, it’s just good manners. And if you haven’t been saying thank you all along, you may have a leetle credibility problem.

Because you can’t throw money indiscriminately at people while failing to appreciate them, then pull the plug on the money, then implement some random employee recognition program out of the blue instead of money (with the same management team that everyone’s already planning to bail on) and expect people to be happy.

My friend (who's not in HR) put it rather well: Appreciation should be a given. Rewards should be tangible.

My advice?

Reward people as fairly as you can.

If you can’t afford ‘fair’ rewards, communicate this honestly.

Say thank you.


  1. Thanks for the reference, Working Girl. As you say, appreciation SHOULD be a given, but as we all know, it certainly is not. A simple thank you goes a long way and too many managers/leaders forget that.

  2. Love your attitude and spunk Working Girl. You're right, some people just will never be happy; which is what makes the job of a CEO, Mgr, or HR Professional increasingly difficult.

    Rewards and appreciation don't have to be expensive; and they certainly shouldn't be overlooked. I wrote about this study recently and offered some suggestions. Your fans can find them here:

  3. You are right-it is hard to please everyone-or anyone for that matter. But communication does help, but it isn't always the cure for the ego. xoxo


  4. I was the rewards and recognition project manager for America Online in Oklahoma City. There was just no winning with some people. Good post!

  5. Amen. Although some people will never be happy...the economic situation has made too many employers believe that people should just be grateful to be employed and therefore recognition or appreciation is unnecessary. So sad.


Related Posts with Thumbnails