The Three Rules of Reward and Recognition


There are varying opinions on the worth of implementing a Reward and Recognition (R&R) program.

Some managers believe that rewarding and recognising employees for their results and behaviours plays a pivotal role in workforce motivation and engagement. Others believe it is a waste of time because they’ve seen the downside when the wrong person was recognised, or they don’t have any budget, or they worry about the ‘tall poppy’ syndrome that exists as a part of the Australian culture.

However, R&Rs play an important role and if you don’t do it, you could be considered to be lacking emotional intelligence, ungrateful or out of touch.

Reward and Recognition Options

  1. Formal R&R: awards, certificates, plaques, bonus, points, movie tickets, vouchers, etc.
  2. Informal R&R: Saying thank you both one-on-one and publically, showing gratitude, etc.

There are many variables when considering which type of R&R to use:

  • the size of your team
  • your culture
  • how often you do it
  • teams or individuals
  • just your group or other groups you work with
  • peer nominated
  • are there existing R&R schemes across the company?

You need to make an informed choice and one that will suit your team.

If you have no budget, informal R&R such as saying thank you is a good start. Reading out achievements in front of the rest of the team provides excellent recognition, and helps to boost confidence. Just ensure it is authentic and timely.

It is also important to understand the difference between recognition for an achievement, versus appreciation for effort for someone, even if they did not perhaps achieve the desired results. Both are noteworthy and in need of acknowledgement.

It is crucial to also align reward and recognition with whatever you are trying to achieve in your business results of behaviour or culture change. For example, if you are trying to drive a behavioural change, then recognise those who show the right behaviours to promote them as a positive role model.

Peer nominated awards are an ideal formal option because the Manager does not decide who gets rewarded.

The three rules of reward and recognition are:

  1. You must do it
  2. You must do it
  3. It needs to be authentic, timely and aligned to results / behaviours.

Find out about iHR Australia’s training for leadership and performance management.


About the Author – Alan Colvin, Senior HR Consultant and Training Facilitator

With over 26 years’ experience in roles across Finance and Administration and HR, Alan has amassed extensive experience in managing people and teams in large multi-national organisation environments. As an accomplished HR professional, Alan has expertise across the full human resources function including designing and embedding major workplace cultural change, performance management, change management, talent acquisition and retention, succession planning and employee engagement programs. Alan facilitates iHR Australia’s Leadership & Anti-Discrimination, Bullying and Harassment workshops.