The Best Employee Reward?

by Doug Smith, President, The Woodhaven Group

Have you noticed how often the same individuals get all of the awards, bonuses and free trips in a company for a job well done.  I certainly do not fault them their recognition and rewards.  As a CEO I structured many of those incentives in order to get results I wanted to see.  It usually worked.  We got more profit, marketshare, and cash flow.  It was nice.

But over the years I also noticed and appreciated the efforts and indirect results that others in the company working behind the scenes accomplished.  It was hard to directly measure their individual contribution but I knew they were critical to our success.

We would recognize these individuals at some year-end dinner or event but it never seemed to be enough.

So I started doing this.

From time to time and totally unannounced I would bring a behind the scenes contributor into my office and say something like this, “I just wanted to personally thank you and tell you how much I appreciate what you do everyday.”  I would give an example of something they recently did and why it was important to the success of the company.  Then I would tell them as an added thank you the company would like them to take a day off with pay.  Sometimes I made it 2 days off with pay.  Often the day off (their choice) was taken on a Friday or Monday so the employee got a long weekend.

I found this accomplished a few important goals.  First, it recognized a key loyal employee and showed them they were appreciated.  Second, it showed that as a business we recognized there is a life outside of work.  Finally, I found that this key contributor came back even more energized and committed than before.

Does this contribute to increasing cash flow?  You bet it does!

Will you find this spelled out in some MBA course on employee development?  Probably not.

Oh, and one other thing.  I gave the employee a $100 to spend anyway they wanted on that day off.

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