Confused About the Best Ways to Engage and Appreciate Your Employees?

By John Schaefer, September 6, 2013 8:11 pm

While it sounds like a great idea, there’s no one, single program that can do it all!

I read an interesting press release the other day – and it really got me thinking.

At first blush, it sounds like Janet Treer is really on to something. However, after reading it carefully, I realized that the suggested approach is potentially quite confusing and overly simplified.  While I don’t know Ms. Treer and am sure she means well, this inaccurate and overuse of industry “buzzwords” does not help companies understand the best way to achieve high employee engagement.

Treer suggests that research clearly shows that traditional programs for Length of Service don’t effectively motivate employees and the answer is to sweep your budgets in to “performance-based, individualized program”.  While there is some truth to this, it’s just not that easy. Let me clarify the terms:

1.  Length of Service is a true Recognition Program.  It is totally objective, because every employee gets the same value award for longevity, independent of position, title, salary or level of performance.  A Length of Service award has nothing to do with measurable performance, so is not a motivation program at all.  It’s a simple, traditionally accepted, and fully tax deductible way to tell your employees, “…thanks for being on our team!”  If done properly, it engages the Right Brain (the warm, emotional, feeling side) and shows that you care about your employees as human beings.

2.  Performance-Based Programs use incentives to modify behavior.  They are subjective, appeal to the Left Brain (the logical, calculating, fairness side) and offer employees the option of improving specific behaviors for the opportunity to share in some of the increased value the company achieves.  These programs work, because employees who like and trust their employer naturally want to offer their Discretionary Effort (that above and beyond work they offer just because they feel good about the organization).  These programs are partially taxable (about 70%), but can be shown to yield a significant ROI if set up, managed, and promoted properly.

3.  Motivation is a more vague and personal term that can be different for each employee.  It’s basically any management action that leads to an employee feeling energized to become more engaged and improve the quality of their service to the company.  I can be as simple as a friendly smile, a pat on the back or a timely thank you; or as complex as a major community service event.  Motivation can come from a manager, peer or even a client or guest to the company.  It’s only of value when appropriate, believable and genuine; and that’s in the eyes of the recipient, so if not done honestly can backfire.

We all wish it was as simple of just picking the current recognition flavor off the month, but the reality is, all three components (we call it an Umbrella Recognition Solution) are needed and must be both balanced and initiated in the proper order to be effective.

To learn more, visit .

Leave a Reply

Panorama Theme by Themocracy