Common Mistake #5: Limited Choice for Reward

What have you received for rewards in the past? We’ve heard horror stories of people receiving clocks in an Asian culture where that symbolizes death. We’ve heard about the reward recipient in a European county actually having to go to his local customs office, fill out numerous forms, and then pay custom duties out of his own pocket – just to get his “reward.” We’ve heard about grandfather clocks shipped from the US to multiple rewards recipients around the world, including Australia, costing the company more in shipping than the “reward” was actually worth. I’ve always wondered about that last one – did the reward recipients even want a grandfather clock? What if their interior design style was more modern?

Rewards programs that operate on such a one-size fits all philosophy miss the opportunity to reinforce a positive association with the company. Employees don’t feel rewarded with some trinket from an old-fashioned rewards merchandise catalog that they didn’t want or need. We’ve found that what employees really want is the reward of choice.

The reward of choice caters to the demographics of a worldwide workforce that spans four generations, all with different expectations and driving forces. Locally based choice goes a step further to ensure the reward will always be culturally appropriate and to the recipient’s taste while avoiding the varying cultural norms that simply cannot be known by every manager everywhere in the world.

Non-cash rewards in the form of gift cards to local high-value, lifestyle venues take rewards beyond compensation to trophy award status, giving the recipient guilt-free enjoyment of a high-end luxury item or entertainment event. These tangible symbols of achievement are lasting reminders of that achievement and are socially acceptable to show off, again reinforcing the value of the recognition program across the company.

What are your horror stories of past rewards received that you may have tossed into a desk drawer or shoved onto a closet shelf?

What’s your ideal reward? What would you prefer? A trinket that you may be able to choose from a catalog of limited selections? Or a chance to go shopping – or out to eat – or on an adventure – at your favorite store, restaurant or entertainment venue – anywhere in the world?

2 comment(s):

At March 26, 2008 6:48 PM, Jirair said...

I like souvenirs that's probably why I kept every reward I got even if I won't be needing it. It is a sentimental value thing, but for most people I know, what you said was true. I will take note of that when giving rewards, I agree as a giver I should consider the awardees needs and wants.

You might be interested in the Young Entrepreneur Society from the A great documentary about successful entrepreneurs.

At March 31, 2008 4:24 PM, Derek Irvine said...

Jirair, souvenirs have their place, but we've found people ascribe much higher motivational value to a reward they were able to choose themselves and then brag about to their friends without embarrassment but with great pride. We've heard comments like, "see the great BBQ grill I was able to buy with the recognition I received for Project X." That is truly powerful when people are able to share like that. They certainly can't brag about a cash award in the same way without appearing boorish!

Thanks for joining the conversation!