by Lisa Grimaldi | January 01, 2004

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 decade.

M&C: What has been the most dramatic change from 1994 to 2004?
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 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?
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?
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.