My blogging buddy Danny Kaye is preparing for a debate.
The topic of the debate is “The Reward System” as it is used by employers as a motivator for employees. One team is supposed to argue how the reward system is a great idea and has tons of success, and the other team needs to argue that the reward system is a failure.
I think that reward systems are only as affective as the recipients perceive them to be. I also believe that one size does not fit all employees. I will address this subject with the assumption that the employer is meeting the basic needs of the employees. Looking at the subject of reward systems while considering Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages, an employer may have a hard time adequately rewarding all employees to an equal level of satisfaction. I realize that Gary Chapman’s book is primarily concerned with family relationships, the principles taught in his book can easily be applied to just about any relationship.
That said, in terms of countering the other side of the debate, I suggest that Danny Kaye and Susie Q be ready to provide a reason why reward systems are less successful and how they can be improved. Many reward systems fail because the employer’s rewards do not appeal to the “love” needs of a large enough population of the employees. For example (still keeping in mind Gary Chapman’s Book) a system that only gives letters of recognition and plagues will only appeal to those people whose love language is “Words of Affirmation” or “Receiving Gifts”. A person whose love language is “Acts of Service” would never feel loved by this method of reward system. Even more difficult to reward are those whose love languages are “Physical Touch” and “Quality Time”. If the employee base of a company is largely filled with a bunch of folks who possess these last two love languages, the company will likely not be able to adequately fill the love tanks of employees with a conventional reward system assuming all other basic needs of the employees have been met. If for some reason the basic needs of employees are not being satisfied (i.e., salary, time off, benefits, etc) then there’s plenty of room to reward employees in those basic areas.
My love language is “Words of Affirmation”. Even with that being so, I have enjoyed getting rewards in the past like cash, gift cards, but that was when I was making less money. Once I had a boss tell me to pick any high end restaurant in town (there are a ton in Charleston, SC) and take my wife out on the company card. That type of reward can reach into the quality time love languge by rewarding the employee some quality time with a spouse.
All this said, an employer might give a version of the love language test to help them determine what appeals to employees. For employees whose love languages are physical touch, I would suggest giving something like a gift certificate for a massage. Acts of service can be given in many forms like giving a person a temporary assistant for some period of time.