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Rewards and Recognition – Winner takes all! Is it fair?

In any organization, typically the employees who are likely to receive maximum recognition or the highest recognition are possibly the highest performing ones. It is not surprising that they are the ones who would get the highest salary increments and promotions!

Integrate Reward and Recognition with Innovation Efforts

Hence, we need to answer the question of whether the winner-takes-all phenomenon is fair or not.

It seems only logical that the highest-performing employees would end up getting the maximum recognition and rewards.

So the caveat to this is that it might demotivate other employees who are possibly average performers or borderline cases.

Fun Awards

The bigger sin by managers or even entire organizations is to use a kind of quota system to ‘allocate’ rewards and recognition to employees.

Also, an employee who is an average performer might end up getting a reward to ‘compensate’ for the lack of a hefty increment or a promotion!

Or vice-versa! Now, this is a cardinal sin! This makes the whole practice of rewards and recognition a total sham!


A better approach would be to design rewards and recognition policies to appreciate small achievements and behaviors in everyday work

These would align with the company values such as customer orientation, innovation, integrity, or initiative – anything small yet significant.

Long Service Award

They may or may not be directly linked to the KRAs and hence unlikely to lead to other forms of ‘rewards’ like a bonus, salary hike, or promotion.

Hence, organizations need to incorporate this into the design of the policy.

Rewards and Recognition – Winner takes all! Is it fair?


Those employees who deserve recognition should get recognized in any case; however, the employee should not be ‘rewarded’ or ‘recognized’ for the same achievement or behavior in multiple forms. That is not fair!

Sagar Chaudhuri

Lead author: Sagar Chaudhuri, the Co-Founder and CEO of HiFives. He is an HR Tech Evangelist with over 25 years of experience in the corporate world and entrepreneurship. In the past, Sagar has worked with companies such as Genpact, Infosys, and ICICI Bank, in leadership roles. He has an engineering degree from IIT Kharagpur and an MBA from IIM Lucknow. Connect on LinkedIn

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HiFives is a global employee rewards, recognition and engagement SaaS platform that enables organizations to digitize, automate and transform their employee experience. It is used by 100+ large enterprises, small businesses and startups in manufacturing, retail, technology, financial services and media, across 25+ countries.