Employee Reward Done Right – And Wrong

Employee.reward.NYC.ideas.and.examples.jpgEmployee reward NYC ideas and examples

It’s holiday time, and New York City Christmas party ideas season is in full swing. This is a busy time of year for me as a corporate event entertainment in NYC vendor, as companies large and small throw their hard-working staff a fun party as a means of saying “thank you.”

I’m quite passionate about showing gratitude to workers, not only as a team building professional but as an employee myself for many years beforehand. I firmly believe that when management makes a concerted effort to show appreciation to the folks actually doing the work, it will result in boosted morale, improved confidence and trust, and better output – resulting in happier clients and more revenue.

Reward can take many forms: monetary compensation, fringe benefits, workplace amenities, holiday parties and other milestone celebrations. So long as you’re doing SOMETHING to keep your people happy, the less likely they are to leave – which (I hope, anyway) is an important goal! That said, however, it’s important to bear in mind that even the best of intentions can sometimes go awry – and the results can be disastrous.

I think a few personal anecdotes I can share would be appropriate. First, a positive story: my first job out of college, I hated. HATED – with a capital “H.” But I was stuck, as I had rent, needed experience for my resume, etc. I’d only been there a few months before Thanksgiving arrived, and I was told, “don’t bring lunch on Wednesday.” Not sure what was going on, I showed up the day before the holiday to work, was immediately shepherded into the boss’s office, and told I was getting both a bonus and a small raise (??). Apparently, it’s what this company did every year, regardless of how long you’ve been working there. They then herded the entire department onto a bus (we worked in a satellite office), and took us to the nearby corporate HQ, where the most lavish feast I’ve ever set eyes on awaited us. Even me – an angry, depressed and demotivated new hire – couldn’t help but feel an upward tick in morale, that the company actually did take care of its own.

Now, let’s examine a few attempts at staff reward ideas which didn’t go quite as well as expected:

I was working at a very small startup company, less than a dozen employees. It was basically two bosses/partners, and the rest of us were junior staff. Their first year in business was a glorious success – lots of new clients, who paid top-dollar (we worker bees knew, because we were billed at a high rate and worked long, long hours). When a client crisis hit, I worked weekends for a month, and even on Christmas day. When the clouds parted and the seas calmed, the client was happy, and the partners were swimming in the proceeds from literally hundreds of our extra billable hours.

Shortly thereafter, the bosses came (literally) singing and dancing their way into the junior staff area, merrily handing out our “Christmas bonuses” for a job well done. They were super excited, and seemed genuinely happy to give us our just rewards. Inside the envelopes? 100 bucks. Yup – a $100 “sharing the wealth” for all of the extra time and effort put forth to make the year a success.

Just about all of us quit within 3 months of that, including me.

From that job, I went to another job in the same field, only this time it was a massive multi-national corporation, which had been around for decades. That summer, another client crisis arose, and once again, we junior staffers rose to the occasion right along with it: coming in early, staying late (sometimes until midnight), working on weekends, even traveling as needed. It was brutal, but in the end the crisis was resolved, and the client was happy (as was our firm, which again had racked up hundreds of billable hours done by the staff).

This time, when the managers came by our desks to deliver our “reward,” it was a box of chocolates. And not even a big box, but one of those tiny little ones with like, 4 pieces of chocolate in it.

I put in my resignation later that year.

Of course, the coup de grâce as far as backfired morale boosters was a few years later at another company, when I had to endure the worst office holiday party ever.

The point I’m looking to make here isn’t to make you feel sorry for my bad luck with employers, but rather to illustrate how not every attempt to say “thank you” will be received warmly. People are sensitive, especially when they know that the company and senior staff are making money on their efforts. If you truly want to reward people for the work they’ve done, and are serious about keeping them happy and loyally employed by you, than I urge you to offer more than passing tokens of appreciation. Be generous, and demonstrate through your actions just how honestly and sincerely appreciative you are for their efforts.

Visit www.TrivWorks.com/employee-team-building to learn more.

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