“The Way We’ve Always Done It”

Last month, Laura Schroeder wrote a great post on Compensation Café on tailored rewards and the realization that one size doesn’t fit all. As Laura points out: “Various research shows that people are motivated by different things at different times, depending on a variety of personal and demographic factors.”

Pop over and read Laura’s full post. She offers five solid tips for moving towards tailored rewards. It’s her last statement of the post that got me laughing, however:

“I also don’t recommend tie pins.”

I laugh because I’ve heard that more than a few times from companies we consult with: “But we’ve ALWAYS given tie/lapel pins. It’s a critical part of our program!” As I’ve written about before, ask just about any employee who ever received one, and they’ll fumble to remember which junk drawer the pin ended up in.

But the important lesson here is that any discussion of total rewards is irrelevant if you don’t also discuss the meaningfulness of those rewards. “The way we’ve always done it” may mean something to the 30-year employee in Marketing, but absolutely nothing to the 1-year GenY rockstar in R&D. And vice versa. BOTH perspectives are equally important, and even that is vastly simplifying — it’s not easy to juggle the “perceived motivators” of a 10 person small business, much less in a 30,000 employee multi-national corporation.

And that’s why the discussion must come down to (and thanks to Dan Pink and others is beginning to) true motivators of autonomy, mastery and purpose. Every employee is motivated by managers who remove obstacles from their paths at work, who listen to them, and help them achieve what is meaningful for them in the workplace.

One final thought. When I made similar comments to Laura’s original post, she asked, “What if these three simple criteria were added to or even replaced the manager evaluation form at every company?”

What if, indeed.

Derek Irvine

About Derek Irvine

The VP of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their organizations. As a renowned speaker and co-author of "The Power of Thanks" and "Winning with a Culture of Recognition," he teaches companies how to use recognition to proactively manage company culture. Derek holds a B.Comm and Masters of Business Studies from the Smurfit Graduate Business School at University College Dublin.

One Response

  1. […] does have a point. When the types of recognition Kellaway describes (employee of the month, irregular newsletter articles, manager as the primary giver of recognition) are the only or […]

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