Employee rewards—dump the predictable and routine

The thumbnail version:

  • Employee rewards are a great way to boost morale
  • The usual, predictable, annual “rewards” like the Christmas party are not appreciated as much as you might think they are
  • Reward thoughtfully throughout the year

The full version:

Joel Slutzky, the former Chairman of Odetics Inc, now chair of Maxxess Systems, is quoted in 1001 Ways to Reward Your Employees, as having once said, “I prefer things that are spontaneous. Things I hate the most are the routine, expected things like an annual company picnic.” He could have added other examples like another Canadian favourite—the annual employees’ Christmas dinner.

Can this thing just be over, please?

Some of these events are among the most awkward and unenjoyable ever attended in my career. You can end up having to make small talk with the boss’s wife, or deal with a drunk supervisor trying to hit on your date, or worse still . . . I think you get the picture. Even if your employees think that you’re a good boss, it doesn’t mean that they want to socialize with you.

So dump the predictable and routine “rewards” and do something unusual and spontaneous. And do it throughout the year; don’t wait for the year end. A day off on their birthday, a gift certificate for a nice dinner with their partner (without you there making it awkward), or tickets to an amusement park for their kids are all better ideas than the usual and predictable employee “rewards.”

But even if you have a staff that really enjoy an annual dinner or some other predictable event, it doesn’t let you off the hook for showing your appreciation with rewards throughout the year.