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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ask the Professor: Issue # 1

Incentive and Recognition Strategies Based on Facts and Research

Question for the Professor: Dr. Mitchell, is there any research that positively correlates incentive rewards programs to improvements in employee morale?

Dr. Mitchell's Response: There is a strong relationship in this regard. Actually, it can work either way. A well planned incentive program can increase morale; a poorly planned or program will most likely have the opposite effect. This type of correlation is well documented in a study by Ahmad Sohel, Harrison D. McKnight and Roget G. Schroeder that appeared in December 22nd 2001 issue of The Journal of Managerial Issues. This study concludes that that in order for an incentive program to have a positive effect on morale,there must be a close trusting relationship between managers and employees, otherwise participants may view the program as a management ploy; thus it will have the inverse effect on morale.

My experience leads me to the same conclusion, although I wouldn’t go as far to say that a close bond between management and employees is required before implementing a successful incentive program. My experience with Snowfly has shown me that a properly designed incentive program can actually be used as a tool to repair or strengthen the bond between managers and employees. This is evident in the results of surveys that we administer to our clients’ employees which show that approximately 78% of all participants feel more appreciated as a result of their employer implementing a Snowfly-facilitated incentive program.

In short, my advice is that when designing your incentive program, be sure to take into consideration the current overall state of the manger-employee relationship. If it needs work, you can and should design your incentive program to reinforce both managers and employees for achieving and demonstrating specific bond-building goals and behaviors.

Dr. Brooks Mitchell is a professor of management at The University of Wyoming. He has written and published extensively in the field of human motivation in the workplace.