Why You Can’t Stop Rewarding Employees

Given that happy employees are good for the bottom line of any business or organization, employers must work to maintain and/or increase morale. However boosting morale in this economy is challenging. Before employees even enter the office doors they may be dealing with issues such as unemployed spouses, mounting debt, loss in value of their homes or the complete loss of a home, and increases in the costs of everything from health insurance to fast food. The good news is that even organizations on the tightest budgets can find small, effective ways to boost morale.

While gone are the days of expensive bonuses and gifts, employers will find that many times just saying thank you and we appreciate you is enough to keep employees motivated. A simple gesture such as supplying employees with thank you cards or vacation vouchers to give to other employees is an inexpensive and effective way to boost morale. In his book 1001 Ways to Reward Employees, Bob Nelson (1994) says, “Employees find personal recognition more motivational than money. Yet it is a rare manager who systematically makes the effort to thank employees for a job well done, let alone do something more innovative to recognize accomplishments.”

Employers can create low-cost rewards and recognition programs to show appreciation for employees as well as allowing employees to show appreciation to their peers. Rewards programs can range from informal expressions of gratitude to more formal celebrations complete with trophies and plaques. However when boosting morale one must consider what motivates the employees. Employees who work as stockbrokers for a bank are likely to have different motivations than employees who work as social workers for a non-profit organization.

Good leaders can improve morale despite obstacles by providing effective communication with employees and providing meaningful rewards and recognition.

We recently revised and expanded our Rewards & Recognition program at my library. Here’s what some of our staff had to say about the value of being recognized.


How are you rewarding and recognizing your employees in this economy?

Advice to the 2010 Movers & Shakers

It’s almost that time of year when a new crop of Library Journal Movers & Shakers is announced. Because they’ve been keeping this secret for months, the 50 or so selected are anxiously waiting for the public announcement. Like Survivor, it’s against the rules to tell anyone you were selected before the big reveal on March 15th.

As a 2009 recipient, here are a few pieces of advice for the Class of 2010.

  1. Be prepared to explain “what you did.” Rehearse your elevator speech! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked what I “won” for. Yes I’m an advocate for learning. But try explaining to another advocate for learning specifically what you did that earned you the recognition. In reality it could just be that someone took the time to complete the nomination.
  2. Do not send an announcement or personal press release to American Libraries, LIS Wire or any other library news agency. Do send an announcement to your alma mater, hometown newspaper, parents, grandparents, long lost aunts or anyone else who might send you money.

    Movers & Shakers Salt & Pepper Shakers

  3. Be prepared for lots of “moving and shaking” puns as well as “shaking and moving” puns and really any combination of the two words such as: “Are you moving and shaking today?” or  “Do you prefer that martini shaken or moved?” or the always challenging “How exactly do you catalog moving and shaking?”
  4. Be prepared for anything from a big party to nothing at all when the announcement makes its rounds in your organization. It’s a different experience for everyone and even different within the same organization. Read this great article from the October 1, 2008 issue of Library Journal written by Chrystie Hill & Meredith Farkas to see what others have experienced. No matter what happens, take it in stride.
  5. Thank the people who nominated you. If you don’t already know who nominated you, it should become clear when you read the article. If you’re still in doubt contact the author or editor who wrote the piece about you.
  6. Thank your spouse/partner/cat/dog, your director, your boss, your coworkers. Thank everyone and make each one feel like it’s his or her award too!
  7. Take a few days or weeks to privately relish your accomplishment then get back to doing the great work you do that got you nominated. Being named a Library Journal Mover & Shaker is the beginning not the end of great work to come. You’ll find that you have easier access to resources to embark on new projects. Embrace this opportunity.
  8. Mark your calendar for September/October when nominations begin for next year’s award. Sitting down to write a nomination for another colleague is a wonderful capstone to the experience.

Most of all cherish the moment, be humble, way to go, and congratulations!

What advice do you have for the new crop of Movers & Shakers?