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Corporate Cultures

One Mistake Too Many Companies Make When Thinking About Employee Incentives

Most companies — like most humans — generally seek the path of least resistance, even in the pursuit of admirable goals. That includes employee recognition and rewards, an area of corporate life that is often dominated by a focus on individuals despite an emphasis otherwise in the culture on values like collaboration and teamwork.

This is understandable, given that the mechanics and risks of incentivizing teams can be more complex than those involved in rewarding individuals for their accomplishments. But there are many compelling reasons why it’s worthwhile for companies to solve for team appreciation. Here are five of them:

  1. Winning as a team leads to communicating like a team. Most experts agree that transparency is a crucial component of a healthy workplace culture, and group recognition and rewards fosters more and better communication between in all directions. Management is more likely to ensure that everyone is on the same page, team members are more likely to make clear what they need from each other and everyone is more likely to share pertinent information.
  2. Accountability becomes the norm. Passing the buck, throwing someone under the bus, running for cover. There are endless cliches to describe actions that arise from a workplace at which one “boss”—literally or figuratively—dishes out praise or blame. Conversely, an extraordinary evolution happens when individuals see themselves as accountable to peers. Specifically, working for group recognition creates a workplace dynamic in which self-policing goes from aspiration to reality, because most people hate disappointing their posse than their parents. 
  3. Senior management gets to walk its talk. As noted above, a lot of companies talk about collaborative environments, not nearly as many companies do as much to show they mean it. Rewarding working groups, project teams, operational divisions and the like not just for the accomplishments but for their processes—even in failure—does wonders for creating an environment of true collaboration.
  4. Group recognition is the best crack filler. Rare is the group—of any size—in which teams members posses equal skill sets and knowledge bases. But when companies incentivize people to work as a team, individual gaps become less meaningful as teammates naturally leverage the strengths and minimize the weaknesses of each individual team member. Moreover, in team-centered environments peer-to-peer learning is more likely to occur, which not only improves employee morale and engagement but often the employer’s bottom line.
  5. Teamwork—and team play—is already important to most employees. “We see this in how the rewards on our platform are used,” says our founder and CEO Dan Ruch. “You’d be surprised at how many employees choose to spend the money they earn from using Rocketrip on group activities with colleagues.”
 

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