Rewards and Recognition – the winner takes all! Is it fair?

Rewards and Recognition is an integral part of every organization’s HR policy. What started off as the management’s expression of appreciation of a job well done has evolved quite a bit and acquired the overall flavor of an organization culture of appreciation and recognition. However, it comes with its own set of challenges especially when implemented in a monetary form; more prominent for high value awards. Typically the employees who are likely to receive maximum recognition or the highest recognition are possibly the highest performing ones. It is not surprising that they are the ones who would get the highest salary increments and promotions!

Whether the winner takes all phenomenon is fair or not is question to be asked. It seems only logical that the highest performing employees would end up getting the maximum recognition and rewards. The caveat to this is that it might demotivate other employees who are possibly average performers or borderline cases. The bigger sin by managers or even entire organizations is to use a kind of quota system to ‘allocate’ rewards and recognition to employees. An employee who is an average performer might end up getting a reward to ‘compensate’ for the lack of a hefty increment or a promotion! Or vice-versa! Now this is a cardinal sin! This makes the whole practice of rewards and recognition a total sham!

A better approach would be to design rewards and recognition policies to appreciate small achievements and behaviors in everyday work that align with the company values such as customer orientation, innovation, integrity or initiative – anything small but significant from an organizational people road-map. It might not be directly linked to KRAs and hence unlikely to lead of other forms of ‘rewards’ like bonus, salary hike or promotion. This needs to be incorporated in the design of the policy rather than the implementation of it. Those employees who deserve recognition should get recognized in any case; however the employee should not be ‘rewarded’ or ‘recognized’ for the same achievement or behavior in multiple forms. Now, that might not be fair!

 

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