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Consulting on The Misery Index: Part Two

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The team at AccelaWork stumbled upon an article that listed the ten most despised jobs in America. And while there was validity in the complaints of those who work in such areas, we found one such agitation surprising.

Previously, we brought you the notion of the misery index in regards to workplace productivity. It’s the degree to which employees detest their work. For the top ten most hated jobs two complaints came to the forefront: lack of opportunity for career advancement and a lack of rewards.

We can’t waste another opportunity to address the latter of the two complaints. As many of you know and have certainly experienced, this is a common tactic in many offices worldwide. And why not? After all, office incentive plans such as pizza parties, sales contests, new titles or even additional vacation time sound like good ideas on the surface. But do these efforts actually empower people to be more engaged at work? According to our research, the answer is no. In fact, rewards are almost never a good idea.

consultants talk rewards

© Flickr user japrea

Given all the content we’ve published on productivity and rewards, it’s no secret that we have a low opinion of extrinsic motivators. If we want people to be truly passionate about their work, we have to do something much more difficult than giving out prizes and trinkets. To effectively motivate employees we need to grant them authority and responsibility. This is our message today, and it’s been a major theme of ours for many years.

In one blog post, we encouraged readers to say no to worker productivity bonuses:

If you’re an employee and you are offered something extra for a job well done, consider something radical: refuse to accept that bonus. Tell your manager that you want to be motivated not out of fear, greed or expectation, but out of a personal desire to contribute. Light a fire within yourself, not one beneath you or one to run toward. Get excited about working hard for the sake of hard work itself.

In another post, we expressed just how important it is to actually value employee productivity:

The best compensation for a job well done is not always monetary in value. There is something to be said about passing along deserving and sincere praise. Trusting and believing in your employees, your colleagues and/or your stakeholders is incredibly important. Yet, if you don’t take the time to express such appreciation they may never know the value they hold. Lacking a sense of value may deter individuals from striving for high performance, efficiency, or even success.

And again, we focused in on the nature of raises in this tough economy and how they affect employee satisfaction:

Millions of companies simply cannot afford to give their employees raises or bonuses at this time, regardless of how much they may deserve one. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t show those employees that you care and appreciate their services.

“Not giving out raises can have a real negative impact on employee morale and motivation. You may even lose some talented individuals,” explains Dr. K. Habib Khan, Chief Academic Officer and acting Dean of the School of Business at Stratford University. “But if you still take the time to show that you appreciate them during this rough economic time, they will be more likely to hang in there and remain dedicated and loyal employees.”

Certainly, we aren’t aiming to be the party crashers. A cake and ice cream celebration now and then might be a nice way to bring smiles. Yet, we must be firm in our belief that rewards (or lack thereof) in the workplace should not define the extent to which stakeholders are happy, satisfied and valued. Stop rewarding employees. Start respecting them instead!

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