· 1 min read · Features

When rewards go wrong – the cost of giving the wrong incentive can be high

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“It’s the thought that counts.” No it isn’t. A disappointing gift or reward can have a far more damaging impact than not being rewarded at all!

Take the recent example of Torbay Hospital in Torquay. To thank its staff for helping the trust become one of the best in the country, 4,000 employees received, wait for it, a KitKat!

This led to disgruntled employees complaining that they felt "insulted".

Although this is a fairly clear-cut example of a less than generous reward, what would it take to disappoint a member of your staff? How many employers would be able to answer?

In my experience, the answer is - few; far too few!

Employers should review and benchmark their reward and recognition policies at least every three years and ensure they're abreast of the current industry best practice. If there is an element of uncertainty about the cost, always err on the side of generosity applying the simple but indefatigable test " How would I react if given this?"

In today's struggling economy rewards must be carefully administered. The impressive rewards offered in more fruitful days are unlikely to be feasible but, nevertheless, if an employer chooses to offer a token gesture of thanks it should make the employee feel valued. Rewards such as the Spree Card, a pre-paid Mastercard or a gift card are cost-effective, yet also have the power to give everyone the choice of what they want and to leave an employee with a happy memory and a smile.

After all, there is nothing worse, after the reward has been presented than an incensed employee saying; "No, you really shouldn't have!" at the same time thinking "Is that all I am worth? Is that all they really think of me? I've worked hard for them for many years and all they gave me was a… KitKat."

John Sylvester, executive director, P&MM Motivation