Rewarding and The Good Talk

by Danique Geskus | Sep 27, 2023

Do bonuses lead to better functioning employees and increased motivation? Does an assessment with final scores ranging from A = poor to E = excellent contribute to increasing employee job satisfaction and sustainable employability? In what ways, other than money, can you value employees? In this blog I will answer these and other questions, but the message is: break the relationship between judging and rewarding.


Do financial incentives lead to performance improvement?

Using money to improve employee performance or motivation does not work. Bonuses only work for work of low complexity and “piecework,” take for example a job that requires you to cut asparagus. Asparagus cutters work purely for the money and not because they are developing. But financial incentives certainly have drawbacks. In the book De meeste mensen deugen, Rutger Bregman cites a study from the University of Massachusetts. Researchers shed light on 51 studies on the effect of financial incentives. They found overwhelming evidence that bonuses can blunt employees’ intrinsic motivation and moral compass, and that bonuses and targets can also impair creativity.


A cut between rewarding and assessing

Research shows that the level of salary does not always make employees happy, but at most satisfied. It is important that salaries are fair , not different from organizations in the same industry and similar, in-house positions. Differences among colleagues are acceptable as long as they are considered fair.

‘You have to reward people well. And then doing everything possible to make them forget as quickly as possible that they work for money. – Auke Nauta HR scientist and consultant

When employees need to improve their performance, good conversation is a better incentive, booster and motivator than money. If an organization has done well then employees who have contributed to it can be appreciated for it with, for example, a team reward and possibly a pro-social bonus. With such a bonus, employees themselves, not the manager, decide who gets it. The idea behind team rewards is that individual performance can often only be achieved because each team member contributes to it. So individual performance is actually team performance, and an individual bonus does not fit that bill.


What are other ways of valuing?

Employees differ in their need for appreciation, so finding an appropriate form for this is a real art. A company car, pension plan and bonus are nice benefits, but the valuations below may also be of interest:

  • Create the right facilities and conditions under which the employee can work (at home) optimally;
  • an interesting project;
  • paid child care;
  • Determine your own working hours;
  • trainings;
  • memberships;
  • dinner for two bon.

Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary – Margaret Cousins

The Good Talk is an excellent place to express that appreciation. A written card, giving a gift to emphasize your thanks or even a hug if appreciated are also ways to show appreciation. In more and more organizations, compliment cards are being handed out among themselves.



Ask good achievers how they want to be valued. This is only possible if there is the willingness and ability to do so.

Organizations reward fine performance with a butter-belly reward. A perk only has value if it is given shortly after the performance, is unexpected and the objective has actually been achieved. And we are not talking about large sums of money, but, for example, a gift. A gift has even more value when it is an experience tailored to the employee, as it will remain a valuable memory.

Source: book The Performance Menu


Want to know more?

Want to know more about employee turnover? And how to address that? Also read our blog “Preventing employee turnover: 10 tips & calculate yourself!”.

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Chart low and high performers with objective evaluations

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