The importance of rewarding your employees in the moment

The importance of rewarding your employees in the moment

Whether it’s a small token of gratitude or something more significant, it feels good to be rewarded for our efforts and achievements at work. But timing is everything, and timely recognition is arguably as important as the ‘thank you’ itself. Being thanked in the moment creates a stronger, clearer and more positive association between the contribution made and the recognition received, which will ultimately encourage more of the same behaviour. When businesses take too long to deliver their rewards, it not only reduces the significance of the sentiment but can even have a negative impact on the recipient’s levels of motivation and engagement. 

So, whether the rewards your business delivers are tied to a specific event, season or achievement, it’s essential that they are delivered to the relevant team members promptly without any setbacks or long delays that may diminish their value and meaning. This way, you can capitalise on the feel-good emotions and feelings of accomplishment your employees already have, strengthen your business’ integrity and build a seamless reward experience that will truly help to drive engagement.

1. It’s all about integrity

One of the four enablers of employee engagement is Organisational Integrity. This essentially means that there’s no say-do gap – your business honours its promises, does what it says it will and can therefore be trusted by your people. When it comes to building and delivering a rewards programme, integrity is key. If your business has a monthly rewards programme tailored to your corporate values, for example, it has committed to rewarding individuals every month and should therefore stick to that. Similarly, if as a business you routinely reward certain accomplishments and milestones, by missing out on rewards or delivering them late, you risk damaging the relationship your employees have with your business. They won’t have the same motivation to repeat those desired behaviours or showcase those values in their work because you’ve broken their trust and failed short of expectation. 

By ensuring your rewards are delivered in the moment, your business will maintain its integrity and strengthen employees’ trust. They’ll know and understand that if they hit a specific target or demonstrate a specific business value aligned to your rewards programme, there will be a direct pay-off. This will drive them to be more focused, committed and engaged as well as nurture solid relationships between your team members and their managers and build an open, positive workplace culture.

2. Capitalise on magic moments

When an individual or team finishes a project, reaches a significant milestone or achieves something notable, there’s something we like to call a ‘magic moment’ where individuals are feeling extra happy, fulfilled and motivated. This is the critical time for your business to deliver rewards because it’ll heighten the positive emotions your employees are already feeling and help them to associate the ‘thank you’ with the exact behaviour or contribution that resulted in getting appreciated. Acting during this magic moment will also help to reaffirm the individual’s value to the business and further drive their levels of motivation to continue to work their hardest. 

In essence, the longer it takes for your business to reward an employee or team, the less impact it’ll have. As a result, to have the biggest effect and further inspire your people as well as get the most value out of the reward, it’s important to capitalise on those magic moments when milestones and achievements have just been reached. 

3. Streamline your reward experience

How and when you deliver rewards truly makes an impact on an individual’s levels of fulfilment at work and reflects how your business operates on a larger scale. A seamless reward experience, whereby individuals and teams are thanked for their hard work in a frequent, timely and meaningful manner, will have a hugely positive effect on your workplace culture and the employee experience as a whole. 

By maintaining a clear process and seamless experience for your rewards programme, your business can create a continuous cycle of motivating and rewarding employees. To explain this in more detail, the cycle begins with your employees working towards clear performance or behavioural based targets. When they reach a milestone or achievement aligned to your programme, they’ll get rewarded. Following this positive feedback and with further opportunities to be rewarded, the cycle continues and employees are motivated to work towards another goal in the hopes of being rewarded again and replicating those feel-good emotions. What arises from this cycle is a consistent exchange of positive actions or behaviour from employees and valuable rewards from your business – a much more effective approach than irregular ‘thank yous’ that encompass months and months of hard work. The below diagram simply demonstrates what this feedback loop looks like, which is reliant on rewards being delivered promptly.

Source: A Research on Social Media Addiction and Dopamine Driven Feedback.

4. Final thoughts

In summary, timely recognition is vital for

  • Reaffirming desirable behaviour
  • Improving trust
  • Building culture 
  • Nurturing employee-manager relationships
  • Driving employee engagement
  • Reinstilling business values
  • Reaching business goals

 

Ultimately it’s clear that the impact of delivering rewards late could be even worse than not having a rewards programme in the first place. Undermining the trust and failing to follow through effectively can have serious consequences on your workplace culture, relationships between managers and team members, as well as employee morale and engagement.

With Christmas fast approaching, it’s important for businesses to reflect on the year and show thanks to their employees who have hit targets and contributed towards business outcomes, particularly if they haven’t already done so. Delivering a memorable reward to your employees in the final month of the year is a great way to demonstrate that your business values their sustained effort and achievements. We offer three Christmas reward solutions, which can be used to send a personalised ‘thank you’ to your people at the end of the year. Find out more here.

Read next: How recognition can impact employees’ work relationships

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