A few months ago I was talking with a friend who was feeling some frustration about his job. He felt like he was stuck in his position and was more than ready for advancement. He told me at the time that he would happily forgo any increase in salary for a promotion in title because he saw this as far more indicative of future success in his career .
I ran into that same friend recently and asked him how things were going at his job. He said that his title and position has remained the same but that he was given a significant increase in salary. I followed up by asking how he was feeling about his job in light of this development and he said that he was actually feeling a lot better overall. He thought that he needed his supervisors to endorse his work by moving him to the next level in his career. In reality what he needed was for his supervisors to show that they valued him in a quantifiable way.
Monetary and non-monetary rewards can be equally fulfilling for employees but employees respond best to something that is quantifiable in some way. Promotions and salary increases are easily measurable but there are ways to encourage employees within your organization even when a promotion or raise is not feasible.
Last year I put a survey on this site asking you all what rewards were most meaningful to you as an employee. Salary increases topped the list by a wide margin but the next most popular option was receiving praise from supervisors. This praise can pack a bigger punch when supervisors are able to quantify what impact the employee has made and how he is valued.
For example, saying “you accounted for 14% of department wide sales this month which went a long way toward us meeting our department sales goal” shows the employee that the supervisor recognizes exactly how much he brings to the organization. On the other hand, less quantifiable compliments like “great job”, even when genuinely felt, have less of an impact because they indicate that the supervisor is not paying attention to exactly what the employee is contributing and imply that this work is not as valued.
Can you think of an experience that has made you feel appreciated in your job? Who did what to bring that about?
What do you do to help other people at work feel good about their contribution?
What both of those perspectives in mind: Do words matter? If so, what sort of words?