Bersin by Deloitte reports that nearly 40 percent of all employee recognition programs are more than 10 years old, and 87 percent are built on a foundation of rewards for employee tenure that have no effect on organizational performance. According to Dr. Bob Nelson, a best-selling author, recognition expert and motivational speaker, “Today’s employees may not need a pay raise as much as they do a personal thanks from their manager for a job well done.”

It’s critical for managers to understand what rewards drive productivity, retention and high performance, so here are Dr. Bob’s Top 10 Motivators for Today’s Employees:

  1. Personally thank employees for doing a good job — one on one, in writing, or both. Do it timely, often, and sincerely. This is a great way to show employee recognition.
  2. Be willing to take the time to meet with and listen to employees — as much as they need or want.
  3. Provide specific feedback about performance of the person, the department, and the organization.
  4. Strive to create a work environment that is open, trusting, and fun. Encourage new ideas and initiatives.
  5. Provide information on how the company makes and loses money, upcoming products and strategies for competing in the marketplace, and how the person fits into the overall plan.
  6. Involve employees in decisions, especially decisions that affect them.
  7. Recognize, reward, and promote people based on their performance; deal with low and marginal performers so that they improve or leave.
  8. Provide employees with a sense of ownership in their work and the work environment.
  9. Give people a chance to grow and learn new skills; show them how you can help them meet their goals within the context of meeting the organization’s goals. Create a partnership with each employee.
  10. Celebrate successes – of the company, of the department, and of individuals in it. Take time for team- and morale-building meetings and activities to help with employee recognition.

What Can I Do?

Regardless of whether you are a manager or individual contributor, you can take this list to heart, and use these rewards with your direct reports and co-workers. This employee recognition will go a long way. In the words of Doug Conant, Former President and CEO of the Campbell Soup Company, “To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace.” As a leader, if you understand what rewards drive high performance, winning in the workplace will follow.

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