In America, a human resources manager quite often squeezes her company's employee-incentive program. Maybe she's discarding last year's modified bargains for this year's weekend getaway packages. Perhaps she's jettisoning the annual casino-awards party in goodwill of tactful allocation of modified thank-you cards. What drives her is the theory that rewards and bonuses inspire employees to do their jobs better.
Still, it's only a theory -- and one that a number of CEOs and human resources managers consider is no more suitable than the idea that giving out food to a rooster every time he pecks the piano assures he'll soon play Beethoven. In reality, no one out there actually identifies if enticement programs truly work, and a number of CEO’s are persuaded they can cause major damage.
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Are inducement programs is good for the company or bad for self-esteem? It depends on whether the rewards help hold up corporate goals, such as augmented profit and customer faithfulness, or if they only produce unhealthy competitiveness and backstabbing amongst workers.
Seven years ago, CEO and president Rob Rodin got rid of all individual inducements for the 1,800 employees at Marshall Industries, an El Monte, and California-based distributor of electronic components. To your standard outsider, this may have seemed like a great way to cripple an complete workforce -- take away the American Express certificates and Alaskan cruises and inspiration drops faster than a helium balloon rises. After all, who needs to grind away at work if there's no food in the dispenser?
Last year in Portland, Oregon, president and CEO Mary Roberts stopped a bonus program for the 200 employees at Rejuvenation Inc., a company that manufacturers decorative brass lighting fixtures. The manufacturing managers, Roberts maintains, begged her to cease the program for the reason that craftsmen were stealing parts from other craftsmen to meet quotas, and workers were pacing the manufacture of fixtures to gobble up overtime, and then working like maniacs to accomplish production bonuses.
Rewards decrease risk taking, originality and novelty. People will be less probable to follow hunches, fearing such out-of-the-box philosophy might put at risk their likelihood for a reward. Rewards pay no attention to reasons. A commission system, for instance, might lead a manager to blame the salesmen when they don't meet quotas, when the genuine problem may be wrapping or pricing.
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