It has been 10 years since the
release of 1001 Ways to Reward Employees by Bob Nelson,
Ph.D. More recently, Nelson and co-writer Dean Spitzer, Ph.D.,
published The 1001 Rewards & Recognition Fieldbook (Workman
Publishing). M&C asked Nelson how motivation has changed in a
M&C: What has been the most dramatic change from
1994 to 2004?
Nelson: Now, most firms are not worried about
retention. They think people should feel lucky they have jobs, so
they are cutting raises and benefits like health insurance and
vacation time. A survey conducted in November 2002 by Monster.com
shows 56 percent of employees are somewhat or completely
unsatisfied at their jobs.
People have mentally thrown in the towel; they are going to change
jobs when the economy turns around.
M&C: In general, are current corporate
recognition programs proving to be effective?
Nelson: No. Corporate America really needs a wake-up
call. The traditional strategies they’re using employee of the
month, years of service awards are of scant importance to workers.
I conducted a study last year asking U.S. employees to rank 53 ways
they’d like to be rewarded by managers, and those rewards were near
the bottom. Interestingly, the top-10 rewards they favored require
no cash at all.
M&C: What do today’s employees want?
Nelson: Increasingly, meaningful rewards include
things like being treated well, getting support from one’s
employer, and the chance to learn and grow on the job and certainly
receiving thanks for doing good work.
Our new book gives examples of firms like FedEx, Land’s End and
Microsoft who are getting it right.