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Slow pace could weaken reward appeal

Employee rewards may lose their value if they appear too infrequently.

Engagement is not just about what you offer your employees – it's about how you parcel out these rewards every day. A program that doesn't suit workers' needs is likely to be problematic, as they may turn down incentives that seem to be logically attuned to their wishes and requirements. Some organizations are naturally better than others at capturing the attention of staff members, and this comes from all the elements of their employee rewards programs. A winning strategy combines incentives that workers actually want with distribution schemes that make sense to the specific mix of opinions and outlooks within that particular organization.

"Millennial mindsets are different than those that came before, and offering the same types of incentives that worked in years past may have a disappointing result."

A question of frequency
A recent Fast Company piece addressed what might be the end of the annual bonus. The source explained the practice of giving annual payouts has become ingrained – which may be the only reason it endures. Millennial mindsets are different than those that came before, and offering the same types of incentives that worked in years past may have a disappointing result today. Fast Company presented Pew research on young workers and found these professionals demand a quick pace of life both personally and professionally. This is incompatible with opening up a single monetary reward once a year and demands a new approach.

There are several sticking points when it comes to the annual bonus. Fast Company revealed that receiving rewards is more effective when it is evenly distributed over a stretch of time. One instance of monetary incentives, handed out at a time that does not directly relate to the actions that earned the pay-out, is not as compelling for the millennial generation as a series of rewards that give positive reinforcement progressively over the course of the year, which tells employees repeatedly that their service is appreciated and valued. The source stated that a psychological worker study found participants less motivated or able to learn when not given rewards gradually.

The end of the year should not be the only time bonuses are paid out.

The source explained the connection between bonuses and work is tenuous when there is one pay-out time per year. Even if leaders determine how much workers get by what they've done during the year, too much time between action and result can lead to serious dissonance. Workers want to be acknowledged when they do a good job – if the leader decides to put aside a bonus for a job well done but not hand it over for 10 months, the message is muddled and the employee may not feel the connection between his or her effort and the good payday.

Progressive assessment takes the stage
Learning about employees and keeping them happy over time is a contemporary approach to HR, one that is very different from the calendar-driven methods that drove the industry in the past. A recent World Economic Forum blog post by Don Tapscott explained that another annual tradition – reviewing how well employees have done in the past year – may also become a relic. The author reported the endless feedback possible with digital technology has trained workers to want a steady stream of contact. Infrequent communication is disconcerting.

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