• Jim Canfield

Tools for Celebrating and Motivating Your Employees

Updated: Dec 20, 2019



It’s important to celebrate the milestones along the journey to success. And it’s our job as managers and leaders to cheerlead, thank, and praise our employees for their good performance all along the way.


Here are some tools that you can incorporate to motivate your employees and reward them for their efforts.


Rewards, Recognition and Appreciation; Oh my!


In a recent survey by the global HR consulting firm, OC Tanner, it was found that when people who had left their jobs voluntarily over the last twelve months were surveyed, 85% said the reason for their departure was “a lack of recognition or appreciation for the work they did and the contributions they made.” Of those, 65% said they “did not receive ONE WORD of recognition or appreciation in the last twelve months. To build and enhance our employer brand, we must build a reward system that includes rewards, recognition, and appreciation into our culture.

Make Compensation Meaningful


Whenever new goals are set, compensation must be aligned with those goals. Nothing is more demotivating than working hard to achieve a big organizational goal without an appropriate reward. Compensation must be a part of the plan. Too often, companies set new goals but forget to align the comp plan.


Reward payouts to employees must be timely and tied to the results. In companies that pay annual bonuses, employees and managers can forget the reason for a year-end bonus. Incentives should be paid at the time of performance—or monthly or quarterly.


This may not mean you should move completely away from annual bonuses. Annual bonuses, in fact, work best for senior executives, based on their annual achievement toward three-year or five-year goals and objectives. All other employees, however, will benefit from more frequent monthly or quarterly incentive programs.


The Remix to Recognition


Survey data routinely show that leaders aren’t good at providing appropriate recognition to their employees. Yet nothing has more impact on great performance than recognition—and the payoff is much higher than for compensation alone.


When done well, recognition is part of a strategic program that includes awards, acknowledgments, kudos, and fun. It usually takes a team of people who are naturally gifted in the area to accomplish it most effectively.


If you’re wondering how much to invest in a recognition program, consider allocating one percent of the payroll. Anything under this amount doesn’t get significant results and amounts too much above this showed somewhat diminishing returns.


Employees Just Wanna Have Fun


Having fun is what sets great companies apart from all the rest because fun keeps great people there who enjoy getting results. Unfortunately, most companies don’t have much fun.

­To make fun an integral part of your company culture, consider appointing a CFUNO (chief fun officer). Masters of fun in business are Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey, founders of Barefoot Wine, the best-selling wine brand in the United States. Among their creations are Barefoot Days and Free Wine Fridays. Barefoot Days were company holidays in the months of the year that don’t have a regular national holiday.


To know what to recognize and celebrate, use the tracking tools to track recognition. Remember WGMGD (What Gets Measured Gets Done)! Tracking recognition works. This approach allows us to ‘gamify’ our business. The definition of having fun always includes true performance, growth, and profits. Make performance, growth, and profits a precursor to your celebrations.


Make it fun to be a part of your company, and your people will spread the word—and that enhances your employer brand.


Inspire Personal Growth

Opportunities for personal and professional growth play a key role in attracting and retaining good people. One way to foster personal growth is to give your employees good business and self-help books. Pick out the books you want them to read and write a personal note on the title page.


Top-performing companies have extensive training and/or learning programs. At Zappos.com, for example, employees can check out a book from the company’s extensive lending library of business books.


Challenge Accepted


People thrive on challenges. When people don’t have challenging work, they die on the job—or at least “retire” while still on the job. They may keep showing up; however, they slow down and do less work while continuing to collect a paycheck.


One of the best ways to maintain a highly engaged workforce is to create ongoing challenges for yourself and your employees. Do this by developing big, audacious goals (BAGs) together, and use quarterly priorities managers (QPMs) or quarterly business reviews (QBRs) to reinforce the importance of these objectives and to acknowledge performance.


Convenience is Key


One way to keep employees happy is to create more personal time for them. You’re probably saying, “Are you crazy? I need them to work more, not less!” The fact is that most will work harder for you if you can give them more time for themselves when they aren’t at work.


What if you could give your employees back several hours each weekend by making common routine tasks available to them at work? It’s not hard to do. Contract with a local dry cleaner for dry-cleaning pick-up and delivery; bring in a manicure team once a week; order from a meal preparation service and have it delivered to the office, or offer a car-wash service once a week through a mobile wash company.

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