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Of course, doing something that interests you automatically engages you in that work. People who find their work interesting are far more likely to want to spend discretionary effort on the tasks and ensure the work is done well – the very definition of engagement.
Similar principles apply when considering what rewards to offer employees. Seth Godin recently tackled this topic when discussing the importance of sophistication and cultural wisdom in building your company brand through interactions:
“We place a high value on sophistication, because we've been trained to seek it out as a cue for what lies ahead. We figure that if someone is too clueless to understand our norms, they probably don't understand how to make us a product or service that we'll like. This is even more interesting because different cultures have different norms, so there isn't one right answer. It's an ever changing, complex task. Cultural wisdom is important precisely because it's difficult.”
The same is true when planning reward offerings for employees across various countries and cultures. “Cultural wisdom is important precisely because it’s difficult.” Giving an employee in China a clock (signifying death) is beyond insulting to the recipient, whereas the giver was merely trying to be nice. Or sending a company logo fleece jacket to employees in Nairobi would just show lack of consideration for that employee’s situation or desires.
Rather, offering a broad range of choice for all employees to choose the item, adventure or experience that would be most meaningful to them – in their own backyard or anywhere in the world – far more powerfully conveys your desire to show true appreciation for well executed effort as well as your cultural wisdom.