It’s difficult to find skilled employees. Then once you’ve interviewed and hired them, it’s a challenge to keep them. And even if you’re able to keep them, maybe some aren’t producing the way you want. You should determine why this is happening. It could be any of a number of reasons such as they don’t have the right tools, job responsibilities or work hours changed, they don’t get along with a direct supervisor or co-worker, feel there’s no opportunity to advance, they’re bored, or maybe they don’t feel valued. You won’t know unless you ask.

Many people plug along day-to-day just trying to get to the end of it just to go to sleep and do it all over again and again. 52.3% of Americans are unhappy at work, according to a report by the Conference Board, a New York-based nonprofit research group.

Often times, they’re simply not motivated.  A survey, The 7 Key Trends Impacting Today’s Workplace was conducted by the employee engagement firm TINYpulse.

One survey question was: What motivates you to excel and go the extra mile at your organization?” 

The results were as follows:

  • Camaraderie, peer motivation-20%
  • Intrinsic desire to do a good job-17%
  • Feeling encouraged and recognized-13%
  • Having a real impact-10%
  • Growing professionally-8%
  • Meeting client/customer needs-8%
  • Money and benefits-7%
  • Positive supervisor/senior management-4%
  • Believe in the company/product-4%

The above results show what people responded when given a survey with answers to choose from. But people are individuals. By asking your employees what is important to them directly, you might be surprised by how easy it is to motivate them. Maybe it is money, but it could be time, family, a hobby, or material objects that motivates them.

Once you know what motivates each employee, you can create ways to recognize and reward each individual employee in the most effective way possible. Your strategic reward system for employees should cover compensation, benefits, recognition and appreciation.

John Marconi, ACO Staff Member, shared an important point on his blog: “I was speaking with a shop owner the other day about an issue he is having with technician comebacks.

He implemented a very aggressive growth strategy, putting a lot of emphasis on quotas, sales and labor production. The strategy also included increased bonuses for the service advisor and techs for hitting certain goals.

What was lacking was a process to ensure that quality was maintained, and basing sale decisions on what is in the best interest of the customer. A focus on quotas instead of service quality is a recipe for eventual failure.

Include a quality control process to cut down on mistakes before the customer gets his car back. Put emphasis on customer service and integrity. Celebrate positive customer reviews. Base all service and repair recommendations on what is in the best interest of the customer.”

Creating and maintaining a recognition program takes effort and constant monitoring, flexibility and changing. But it is well worth it. A Bersin and Associates research study found that in organizations where recognition occurs, employee engagement, productivity and customer service are about 14 percent better than in those where recognition does not occur.

To start a reward program, you need to sort out how much of a budget you want to spend for each employee and then decide what you want to recognize and reward. Keep in mind; many rewards and recognition are not expensive.  Be as clear as possible and every employee needs to have an equal chance to be recognized and rewarded to avoid any possible conflict later.  

Here’s a step-by-step suggestion:

1. Establish the purpose of the employee rewards and recognition program.  

2. Identify the behavior(s) you want to encourage. List the criteria and guidelines.

3. Design the program (Make sure it’s measurable). Include managers and staff input to help create the program.

4. Choose Your Awards. This shouldn’t be too hard because you have asked your employees what motivates them already.

5. Communicate to everyone when you’re rolling out this program and remind them why.

6. Execute the program.

7. Track program usage.

8. Evaluate

While it’s important to motivate employees, if rewards don’t come after extra efforts or are inconsistent, your employees will learn that there is no payoff and all your effort can backfire.