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Two schools of thought surround employee rewards and recognition. Rewards, usually tangible and monetary gifts, are incentives that demonstrate how much the employer appreciates an employee's skills, talents and commitment. Recognition does the same thing, but in a non-monetary way. The terms "reward" and "recognition" often are used interchangeably, although in human resources-speak, they're different. Likewise, employers use either rewards, recognition or both to acknowledge employees' perfect attendance.
Perfect Attendance Concept
Some human resources practitioners and departmental supervisors and managers believe perfect attendance is an expectation, not an accomplishment worthy of an award. The implied agreement -- or, social contract, if you will -- between an employee and employer is that the employee will commit to contributing her talents, skills and expertise to the organization in exchange for a paycheck. In fact, one employer, Hedrick Brothers Construction, codifies its social contract, including accountability as essential to a sound and productive employment relationship.
If your budget permits handing out Oprah-esque awards for perfect attendance, you could reward employees who are never absent or late with a new car, such as United Airlines does. A reward like this will surely motivate employees who miss perfect attendance by a hair to strive for better attendance during subsequent evaluation periods. That said, not many employers can afford to give out brand-new cars to employees, so there are numerous other less costly options for recognizing employees who come to work every day.
Some large organizations have such massive campuses that employees have to board a tram just to get from the parking lot to the building. A closer parking space is a welcome perk and substantial reward for perfect attendance that might shave several minutes off the employee's commute or just make the on-campus commute less arduous. A prime parking space for one month is a suitable award for perfect attendance for a calendar quarter or maybe two to three months of parking privileges for perfect attendance for an entire year.
Somewhere between the extravagant award of a new car and the close-up parking space, a reasonable award for perfect attendance could be a mini-vacation. A weekend getaway for two or even airline tickets that would reduce the cost of a family vacation is a terrific way to recognize employees who are conscientious about attendance and who demonstrate sound work ethics. Naturally, your company's budget will dictate how many of these awards you give and for what time period an employee must maintain perfect attendance.
Employee recognition, a non-monetary way to show that your company appreciates its employees, may be a longer-lasting way to reward someone for perfect attendance. Management consultant Frederick Herzberg wasn't suggesting ways to award employees for perfect attendance, but his two-factor motivation-hygiene theory says that recognition is the key to employee satisfaction, which is one of the goals of awarding employees who maintain perfect attendance. Giving an employee a plum assignment, putting her in charge of orientation for new employees or delegating chairperson duties for committee work essentially says, "You're a reliable and dependable worker whom I trust with added responsibility."
In addition to, or in place of, added responsibility or acknowledgement for her commitment to the organization and her job, there's public recognition for employee attendance awards. Publishing an employee's name in the company newsletter or the highest-ranking executive asking the employee to stand up and be applauded during an all-staff meeting is another effective way to say "thank you." Employees who receive public recognition often are proud to share their accomplishments with their peers, which is the idea behind publicly acknowledging an employee's success.
Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ruth resides in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.