Employee engagement is currently a hot topic. HR managers around the globe are dealing with this issue by discovering new tools, and approaches to motivate and reward employees and therefore decrease the number of disengaged and demotivated workers. There is a very simple tool to do that – Kudo cards. 

This popular Management 3.0 practice is super simple and very effective peer-to-peer recognition system focused on improving the intrinsic motivation of the employees. Daniel H. Pink, the author of the bestselling book Drive, says that traditional carrots and sticks approaches crush creativity, encourage cheating, shortcuts, and unethical behavior, and foster short-term thinking. He also claims that monetary rewards can have a negative impact on employees’ overall performance. So, we should focus first on intrinsic and then on extrinsic motivation.

Do rewards motivate people? Absolutely. They motivate people to get rewards. – Alfie Kohn, Punished by Rewards

Let’s check the Six Rules for Rewards that make a positive impact on employees’ motivation and engagement.

  1. Don’t promise rewards in advance. Employee’s behavior can change in a negative way if he anticipates the reward. He might take shortcuts and do bad things to get the promised reward. If a person does not expect it, consequently can’t change the behavior just for the cause of it.
  2. Keep anticipated rewards small. Sometimes, when performing admirably, expecting a reward is inevitable. With minor honors, we prevent the possibility of changing one’s behavior just because of the expected praise.
  3. Reward continuously, not just once. Why confine to awarding only once a year or month? We have to do it repeatedly since every day is an opportunity to celebrate a task well done.
  4. Public rewarding over private. While giving public commendation, we let other employees know what kind of performance and behavior is appreciated in the company. Public recognition has a lot bigger impact than private.
  5. Reward behaviors, not only outcomes. Our accomplishments can often be disguised. Maby we took a shortcut or used a colleague to make our performance look outstanding. That is why we reward the behavior first – because you can’t fake that.
  6. Reward peers, not just subordinates. Don’t wait for the manager to give kudos. Give it yourself, to colleagues, managers, receptionists, basically anyone who deserves them.
kudo cards
kudo cards

Kudo Cards

One of the most straightforward rewarding system you can start using already tomorrow and follows the above-written six rules is Kudo Cards. 

Kudo Cards represent a physical token of appreciation for someone’s good job or thanking someone for giving you a hand with something. The main advantage is that YOU can give kudos to your colleague. You don’t have to wait for your manager or boss to do that since top-bottom praise is seriously outdated.

The introduction of Kudo Cards is simple.

  • Put Kudo Cards in a conspicuous place along with a Kudo Box. Put some low-cost gifts like a mug, movie theatre tickets, books, or chocolate in that box. Something that doesn’t exceed 10 euros.
  • Make yourself clear that anyone can take a Kudo Card at any time, write a thank you note on it and put the card in the box.
  • Check the Kudo Box daily. Read the Kudo Cards from the box publicly in front of everybody. The person that received the praise can pick a present from the box. Finally, you just put the card on a Kudo Wall or some other place where you will be collecting them.

During my coaching and the implementation of Kudo Cards in various organizations, I got a lot of questions from managers or HR people: “What if the employees will cheat?” Or “What if they will exploit the system just to get rewarded?”

My answer is always the same: “What if all of these doubts come out of your distrust of your employees?” and “What if kudos are exactly the kind of practice that you need to change the culture in your company?”

I hope this article will help you boost your employee’s motivation, not just for the sake of the awards, but for other matters as well.

We, at CorpoHub, use our own version of Kudo cards called CorpoHub “Pohvalnice”. Let us know if you need your set.

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