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

Rewards and Recognition is an integral part of every organization’s HR policy. 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!

Whether the winner takes all phenomenon is fair or not is the question to be asked. It seems only logical that the highest performing employees would end up getting the maximum recognition and rewards. The caveat to this is that it might demotivate other employees who are possibly average performers or borderline cases.

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

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 behaviours in everyday work that align with the company values such as customer orientation, innovation, integrity or initiative – anything small yet significant. It might or might not be directly linked to KRAs and hence unlikely to lead of other forms of ‘rewards’ like a bonus, salary hike or promotion. This needs to be incorporated 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 behaviour in multiple forms. That is not fair!

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