Rewards and Recognition Should Be Like PB&J

It finally came to me over lunch one day.

Rewards and recognition are just like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich – honest.

I think of rewards as being the peanut butter and recognition is like the jelly.

Peanut butter is made from ground roasted nuts, salt and oil and is used as a spread. Jelly is simply a gelatin product made from fruit juice boiled down with sugar and is a sweet spread.

How do I count the ways that rewards and recognition are like PB&J?

1. Both are sticky. For different reasons rewards and recognition tend to stick around well. Rewards because of the conditional relationship and as a consequence of the actions performed to earn them. Recognition, on the other hand, is sweet and nice and adds a special touch to just about everything and should not always be conditional.

2. Can be spread around. The nice thing about rewards is they can be given to everyone who merits them according to the criteria established for receiving them. With recognition you can spread the wealth by acknowledging everyone for the difference they are making through their work.

3. Fills in the gaps. Between all the work and meetings, giving people a tangible or intangible reward along with some recognition kind of smoothens the way for all that still needs to be done. It helps us all feel good to know we are valued and appreciated.

4. Quick and easy. Anyone can give rewards or recognition because in reality they really are easy to do and can be delivered quite quickly. There is probably no excuse you can come up that could prevent you from using either of them – but together? A wow!

5. Jelly is sweet. Recognition is always a fruity, nice sweetener to any situation. That’s why everyone appreciates being recognized for what they do.

6. Peanut butter is nutty. Rewards are a very distinct tangible that leave a specific taste behind in the mouth of the recipient. They can be good or they can create negative entitlement mentality which you’ll have to chew over.

7. Jelly just is. Recognition is nice and everyone needs it at some degree or another. And yet it can be so taken for granted that we can often ignore the jelly for the more overpowering effect of the rewards – or peanut butter.

8. Peanut butter permeates. Sometimes rewards in isolation can have a strong smell to them and can permeate everything. People talk about them, want them, complain when they don’t receive them, and feel entitled to them. Want, want, and want!

9. PB&J together. Recognition works amazingly well next to the strong, yet powerful impact, of rewards. Jelly adds not only a sweet edge but a different texture to the mix with PB. This is amazingly good next to the sometimes overpowering, salty, nut flavor of rewards.

Remember to always add some timely and well expressed recognition any time you are giving an employee some type of reward.

Hope you’re hungry for more!

Question: Where do you get stuck in using rewards and recognition together?

Roy is no longer writing new content for this site (he has retired!), but you can subscribe to Engage2Excel’s blog as Engage2Excel will be taking Roy’s place writing about similar topics on employee recognition and retention, leadership and strategy.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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