Seeing the story Hospital staff stick two fingers up to Kit Kat reward’ made me smile and roll my eyes in equal measure.  For those who didn’t see it, Managers at Torbay Hospital have been accused of “insensitivity” after giving employees a Kit Kat each as a ‘thank you’ after the hospital trust won a prestigious award.  However well-intentioned, this, it seems, is a classic example of how not to recognise and reward your staff.

In fact, I would go further and say that this isn’t just an ineffective way of rewarding people – it’s actually substantially detrimental. 
The perceived low value of the Kit Kat and the fact that it was presented as a redeemable voucher in staff payslips was considered an insult to many, even though it was intended as a token of thanks.

In reality, it’s not about the actual monetary value of the reward, but the way in which it was presented that’s the problem here.  A genuine and personal ‘thank you’ to staff would have been far more effective, even though it would have cost nothing but the time taken to do it properly.   What’s more, had management taken the time to ensure that each department within the hospital understood its actual contribution towards winning the award and why it was receiving thanks, it would have had an even more positive impact on staff morale.  

We all know intuitively that recognition is a key part of the engagement mix but more often than not, it’s hidden behind the scenes or not given the time or thought it deserves.  Recognition should be instant, public and shared right across a department or organisation – whether it’s a simple ‘thank you’ or something more substantial. 

With online and social media channels providing the opportunity to communicate more regularly and in a much more informal manner with staff, regular communication by senior managers and directors is easier now than it has ever been.  Honesty and sincerity combined with putting a human voice to the company will help to break down the barriers and improve morale, without causing offence!


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