Great organizations understand that employees are motivated by more than money. Take a fresh look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and we are quickly reminded that importance, recognition, and respect are very close to the top of the pyramid, while safety, both economic and physical, is just above survival. So, what are the keys to unlock these higher feelings of employee esteem across an organization?

1. Time it right. On-the-spot or in-the-moment rewards are more highly valued than those based on calendar dates or anniversaries, often regardless of size. Empower your leadership team with the tools and capacities to reward as soon as that significant accomplishment is achieved

2. Make it personal. Everyone is different, and employees are not all motivated by the same type of reward. Money may be valued by some, but time off with family/spouse/partner may have a higher value. Even a personal call from the CEO may be the ticket to a significant and impactful recognition. Ensure that any reward closely aligns with how the employee perceives value. Misalignment can negate your good intent or can even cause a backfire.

3. Delivery is critical. When it comes to granting rewards, do it in person. Leaders need specific communication skills to properly and effectively deliver rewards. Be sure your leaders are coached and trained to deliver the best possible message.

4. Be consistent. A great and inspiring rewards program isn’t haphazard. Employees notice. An effective program is carefully crafted around consistent principles and practices across and up and down the organization. It is fair, balanced and one which the leadership team embraces understands and implements consistently.

5. Be strategic. Rewarding effort and/or results are often a point of contention in many organizations. Balancing between the two can be difficult for your leadership team. What is important is that any reward needs to link to the company’s goal and culture. When employees understand the company’s mission and its values, rewards programs, even variable compensation plans, will motivate employees to consistently push that discretionary effort harder in the right direction for the entire business.