It’s the employee-recognition problem that almost every manager has faced: How do you reward a deserving employee when the budget won’t permit it, or they’ve reached the upper limits of their salary grade?
Whatever you do, author Harry T. Roman advises against fun, trendy forms of recognition--such as inviting the employee to select something from an upscale gift catalog, or presenting a certificate for dinner for two at an expensive restaurant. In the second volume of his new IEEE-USA E-book series, the veteran engineering professional and educator says that while these popular reward mechanisms have their place, it’s important to recognize high-performing people in ways that will keep them motivated and on point--all of which keeps these valuable staff members in your company, and in your department.
In Rewarding Your Employees in Tight Salary Times, Vol. 2, Additional Techniques, Roman discusses a variety of techniques that, for the most part, involve encouraging employees to represent their company in the community, and in industry.
For starters, the author firmly believes that assigning a special employee to work with a local school can be a win-win-- not only for the employee and the school, but also for the company. “Employees will learn how to take complex subjects and boil them down into easy-to-understand, teachable moments,” he explains, “and will also have a delightful experience they will want to repeat.” Equally important, he says schools are eager to work with businesses, as it brings relevancy to the courses they teach, as well as illustrating the process skills that distinguish innovative companies. He observes that only industry can show how problem-solving makes a difference in people’s lives. “Schools need to be immersed in problem-solving and design challenge activities,” the author says.
Roman points out that companies which encourage their employees to participate in outreach to schools will reap the rewards of community recognition; further, they will be perceived as caring organizations who want to serve the community--as well as their customers.
Another of the writer’s strategies for rewarding valued employees is to encourage them to develop relationships with local academia. In fact, Roman describes this particular reward as an inspiring, rejuvenating experience. He recommends empowering a deserving employee to identify areas in your group or company where university resources and talents can be used to help solve key challenges. Among the possible approaches he lists are: dedicated projects with several professors and their graduate students; participation in an academic center of excellence; and sponsorship of continuing education courses.
“This reward can require gathering additional budget to accomplish,” warns the author, “but when managed properly, the wise use of academic resources can produce exciting new options for your company--and will result in significant benefit-to-cost ratios.” He adds that ventures with academia also offer the opportunity to preview some of the talent that will soon be seeking employment--additional motivation for the employee in being the point person for the company’s efforts with colleges and universities.
One more strategy that Roman suggests is to assign high-performing employees to represent the company on an industry committee or research group--an interesting and potentially productive appointment.
“Serving on such a committee confers a kind of recognition that a deserving employee can’t presently get on the job--such as more money or a promotion,” he writes. “But this assignment can be a delightful surrogate recognition that extends beyond the company, vastly improving one’s network of industry contacts—that can potentially mature into lifelong friendships.”
The benefits of serving on an industry committee can be numerous. For example, the employee’s own name becomes recognized as a key individual in the company. At the same time, the company strengthens the recognition of its own name, while also ensuring that its interests are represented in national and international discussions.
Rewarding Your Employees in Tight Salary Times, Volume 2 contains many more proven ideas for showing appreciation and motivating key employees. Together with the first volume, these e-books provide managers with a wealth of ideas and inspiration.
Harry Roman is an IEEE Senior Member who worked for 36 years, almost all of them in R&D, for Public Service Electric and Gas Company, the largest utility serving New Jersey. Over the years, he directed and consulted on more than $100 million worth of projects and programs. He also has taught graduate-level R&D project management courses at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Rewarding Your Employees in Tight Salary Times, Volume 2: More Techniques, is available for $4.99 for IEEE members and $7.99 for non-members at http://shop.ieeeusa.org.
Helen Horwitz is an award-winning freelance writer who lives in Albuquerque, N.M. She was with IEEE from 1981 through 2011, the first nine as Staff Director, IEEE Corporate Communications.