Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…But DO Reward It

Darrin Briggs Articles, Employee Incentives Advice, Employee Incentives Research, Employee Recognition, Incentive Program Success, Incentives, Snowfly Incentives Programs Leave a Comment

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The Minions are the Intellectual Property of Illumination Entertainment

I love the Minions. I love everything about them! They are cute, happy, fun-loving, great singers & dancers, persistent, completely hilarious (in my opinion), and loyal to a fault. They will literally do anything necessary to help their Despicable “Boss” Gru with his evil master plans. But one of my absolute favorite things about the Minions is their ability to celebrate anything and everything! It appears that they are constantly in the middle one giant party because it doesn’t matter to Dave or Kevin or Kyle how big or small an accomplishment is, they are going to celebrate it with style and gusto!

In the world of Employee Recognition and Incentives here at Snowfly Performance Incentives, we are often asked “How BIG of an accomplishment should something be before we recognize and celebrate it?” Unfortunately, that type of question is completely misguided because it highlights a misunderstanding of basic Human Behavior Theory and proven motivational techniques – the falsely sought after silver-bullet of rewarding “final” outcomes. In reality, rewarding the seemingly small and inconsequential steps along the way towards meeting a major milestone is often the only way the major milestone will ever be achieved at all.

Don’t underestimate the power of rewarding seemingly small behaviors. Years of research and countless scientific and behavioral research studies confirm that positive habits form, routines are created, and big changes happen when small daily steps are taken. The old saying that the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time applies to positive workplace behaviors as well. If your company has big goals that have to be accomplished every quarter or every year, try to break them down into smaller daily or weekly goals that can be rewarded in smaller increments at shorter intervals.

One of the most common behaviors that we encourage our clients to reward their team for is adhering to their scheduled workday (in some cases, simply showing up to work). This includes being at work and clocking in on time, taking breaks when scheduled or directed, coming back on time from breaks, and clocking out properly at the end of a shift. This is an especially effective incentive for those employers who have high turnover rates, problems with tenure, and/or high onboarding/training costs. While there are many good ways to reward attendance, there is also a best way to do so.

In most of these cases, you don’t want to simply reward your employees for their attendance each time they comply, you want them to consistently be on time and to reward them for that consistency. This is accomplished by giving a very small reward for each day of perfect attendance, a slightly larger reward for having perfect attendance for an entire week, and an ever larger incremental reward for perfect attendance in a month. If attendance is an issue at your workplace, it is probably costing you far more than you may realize to cover the workload of those who don’t consistently show up.

Instead of paying for all of that overtime and stressing out your Scheduler and/or HR department every day, try this and see how long it takes your attendance issues to go away: Give a $0.50/day bonus for each day an employee has 100% attendance/schedule adherence. Then, for each consecutive 5 working days that employee had 100% attendance/schedule adherence, reward them with an additional $7.50. Then, if a person has 100% attendance for an entire work-week (5 consecutive scheduled shifts) they can earn a total bonus of $10.00/week extra. But then take it one step further by offering an additional $60.00 bonus at the end of the month, or after every 4 consecutive work-weeks of 100% perfect attendance. If this hypothetical employee is 100% on-time, for every shift they on their schedule for an entire month, he/she could earn a total bonus of $100.00 ($60 for the month, + $7.50 each week x 4 or $30, + $0.50/day x 20 or $10).

But there’s a catch: miss just one day and the weekly and monthly bonuses are lost! This way there is a small reward for forming positive daily habits with a larger payoff at the end of the month for consistency. This might make someone think long and hard about missing a Friday shift to get an early start to the weekend. This type of approach to an everyday problem attaches positive consequences to meeting standards rather than only attaching negative consequences for not meeting those standards. In other words, positive reinforcement is far more effective than punishment (negative reinforcement). Despite paying higher total amounts to their employees as incentives, some of our clients who have implemented this simple change to rewarding daily, weekly and monthly attendance, have saved double or triple the cost of those incentives. These savings come in the form of reduced overtime pay, reduced turnover and training costs, and reduced administrative costs for enforcing attendance policies. This all happens because employees begin to self-regulate because there is a reason for them to do so.

In the end, rewarding the small stuff, like daily attendance, may seem like you are just paying your employees extra to do the job they have been hired to do. And while this may be true, “Rewarding the Small Stuff” can be far more cost-effective in the long-run. Rewarding the Small Stuff can become a very powerful way to eliminate large-scale problems with relatively small investments – $100/month for an employee to have perfect attendance is less than the cost of 6 hours of overtime at time-and-a-half pay in most businesses. Rather than contstantly putting out fires and working in a reactionary enviroment where the struggle is to ensure shifts are covered and the work is getting done every single day, why not be more like the Minions, and celebrate all the time?

 

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