“Meaning of rewards”- 24 June 2014.

The most critical task that confronted Susheela as she assumed charge of HR section of the company was to have detailed interaction with the MD to know what he expected from her. He was a serious man with many years of meritorious service in a few companies. Yet, ever since he had joined, the company was not doing well even though the MD was often rewarding good employees with cash incentives. Despite all those efforts, he had found the workforce rather unmotivated and uninterested in the tasks specified. And he expected Susheela to find out where the trouble lay.

Susheela was a young MBA from a good B-school, and had opted for a job in India even though she had got some decent offers from companies abroad. This was her second job, the previous one being at a big company in conglomerate. That job had not given her much satisfaction despite a fat pay-packet. That was the reason why Susheela had sought this job hoping that it would be a rewarding experience.
All these thoughts swirled in her mind as Susheela headed back to her office from the MD’s chamber. And suddenly, the phrase which she had just thought of rang in her mind — rewarding experience. ‘Perhaps’, thought Susheela, ‘the staff here does not get a rewarding experience at work. That may be a reason for its lack of motivation’.
This pondering gave Susheela a trigger she needed to get started in her new job. She thought, perhaps, giving monetary incentives does not go much distance in rewarding an employee. For, otherwise too, the company was a good paymaster and the workforce was generally satisfied. So, there must be something beyond money that the staff may be looking forward to by way of incentives! May be! May not be!
Bogged down by the complex thought on purpose of HR, which was also the subject of her thesis for PhD, Susheela did not even realise that she had skipped the first day’s lunch and even tea at the officers’ canteen. But then, a slow but sure though started emerging in her mind about the system of rewards that may motivate the employees to do increasingly better. ‘I would want the MD to forget about monetary incentives and think about other rewards that would be more satisfying.
Out of that anxious thinking came the idea of giving the well-performing employees rewards such as annual trip to decent destinations, or a letter of appreciation plus a recommendation of the name for a national or international seminar, or even asking the employee’s family over for dinner with the MD and his wife plus other Directors. ‘May be, we can have quarterly dinners where not one but more well-performing employees and their families can be got together’, Susheela wondered.
The MD liked the idea very much and put it in practice after fine-tuning details. However, he did not scrap monetary incentives altogether; he kept those powers with himself to give such occasional rewards as well. Once the new scheme of incentives went up on the notice board, the employees were surprised and also happy. Said one middle-level manager, “it would be wonderful to have such incentives and rewards. For, they would bring us closer to higher management and enjoy a feel-good factor. Dining with the MD and his family with our families is also a great idea”.
The outcome of the new scheme became visible only in six months. For, after the first of the quarterly dinners emerged a set of employees with a sense of pride for themselves and the management. For, at that dinner, the MD and other Directors and their families were extremely affable and talked to the employees and their families in all courtesy. Likewise, some employees also were recommended for seminars and conferences and returned with a great feeling.
The overall atmosphere in the company improved fantastically in a short time. The MD was happy, and wanted to reward Susheela for her contribution. To this, she responded by saying, “Sir, that is not necessary. At the most, invite me especially for the next dinner.”
The MD just smiled, patted on her shoulder, and left. The next, day, Susheela got her incentive — a two-way ticket for her and her husband to travel to an exotic tourist destination for a week. Dinner did follow, of course. But what mattered to Susheela most was a sense of satisfaction that she had been able to suggest something very concrete right on her first day in the new organisation.
For her, that sense of satisfaction was more rewarding than the two-way tickets.

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