Experts Disagree about Best Employee Motivation Plans

Article excerpt

The kind of incentives a company uses to motivate its employees may matter less than that it is making a genuine effort.

Consider the popular "Employee-of-the-Month" photos hoteliers hang in their lobbies. Bob Losyk, president of Innovative Training Solutions, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., says they work "extremely well," particularly if tied to "criteria of quality goals or service behaviors."

Businesses "want their customers to see that they value their customers and their employees," Losyk writes in "Managing A Changing Workforce" (Workplace Trends). But Jerry McAdams, a reward systems expert with human resources firm Watson Wyatt Worldwide, in St. Louis, says they create more "losers" than "winners." "Does it make sense that there really will be an outstanding performer every time?" asks McAdams in his book, "The Reward Plan Advantage" (Jossey-Bass). "Those `Walls of Fame' thrive only because they are the easiest." "I'm amazed at the way people don't understand the difference between recognition and performance improvement efforts," McAdams said. "Recognition is after the fact. The mistake most companies make is that they think their recognition plans are doing the job of performance improvement efforts and they can't. The reality is that they need both." So do the incentives work or not? At Marriott Corp., "Each hotel decides on its own" whether to use Wall of Fame promotions, said Vicki McCracken, Marriott's regional human resources director. "I see them in some hotels and not in others. Their effectiveness depends on how you use them." That response suggests there's no right or wrong in incentive design. What is certain, McAdams said, is that managers who once thought of employees as a cost of doing business now think of them as assets. …

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