Cafe Classic: You Wouldn’t Pay Someone a Month Late…

Editor’s Note:  Reward timing matters and should be a key consideration when considering your total rewards practice. Not everything can or should be reinforced immediately, but we can’t lose sight of the costs and risks of delay if everything (or too many things) happen on a delayed trigger.  In today’s Classic, Derek Irvine serves up solid points and discussion on this always-important topic.

How often do you pay your employees? How much can you count on receiving your paycheck? Generally, readers of this blog will likely agree they can count on getting that pay check (or seeing the pay hit their direct deposit accounts) precisely on the day it’s supposed to, whether that is weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Employers out there will likely agree they’d better hit those pay dates or they could face lawsuits.

Why is this important? At its root, we compensate employees for the hours they work or the results they deliver when they complete those hours or deliver those results. Not months later.

Are you as concerned about the timeliness of the recognition and feedback your employees receive?

The first Friday in March is traditionally celebrated as Employee Appreciation Day. In many ways, the designation of such a day irritates me as too many use it as an excuse to make it the one day a year employees are recognized for their efforts – in much the same way the annual performance review has become the default for the one time a year employees receive feedback on their work.

Just like fairness and common sense are necessary for success employee rewards, so is timeliness.

Introducing delay between an action, behavior or achievement worthy of recognition and the recognition itself dramatically reduces the value of the recognition. Seth Godin put this quite well regarding rewards: 

“We can agree that promising a three-year old a new car when he graduates from college is probably an ineffective way to get him to stop sucking his thumb.

“As we mature, it gets easier to trade satisfaction now for a prize later. However, the more risk involved in getting the prize, the less we value it. Frequent flyer miles, for example, began with the promise that if you flew an airline regularly for months (or even years) you’d get a free flight. The airlines oversold the miles and undelivered on the free flights, though, so the reward started to lose its perceived value–too much risk that you wouldn’t get the prize you wanted. Many of the frequent flyers I know have ceased to ‘save up’ and now use their miles for upgrades, moving the benefit closer in time.

“One of the many things the web is changing is our focus on now. It’s increasing. Offering a reward in three months just isn’t going to cut it. If you want me to get out of bed or brush my teeth or click on your link, there better be something waiting for me on the other side.”

If your goal with recognition and rewards is to reinforce in the mind of the employee what it is that you want them to do again and again – those behaviors and actions that contribute to company success – then be sure you’re not waiting until the next Employee Appreciation Day to acknowledge those efforts.

As Globoforce’s Vice President of Client Strategy and Consulting, Derek Irvine is an internationally minded management professional with over 20 years of experience helping global companies set a higher ambition for global strategic employee recognition, leading workshops, strategy meetings and industry sessions around the world. He is the co-author of “The Power of Thanks” and his articles on fostering and managing a culture of appreciation through strategic recognition have been published in Businessweek, Workspan and HR Management. Derek splits his time between Dublin and Boston. Follow Derek on Twitter at @DerekIrvine.

This post originally appeared on Compensation Cafe
Author: Ann Bares