What’s the best way for bosses to say “Thanks for a job well done”? Believe it or not, a new survey shows that it’s not by paying a bonus! Experts say it’s because a bonus check is like a “sugar rush” – it makes workers happy when they get it, but not long afterward, the buzz wears off and it doesn’t have a lasting effect. So, here are some things the experts say will consistently motivate workers:

  • Workers want praise. For example, bosses could give a shout out to the most productive employees in weekly staff meetings, monthly newsletters, or on the company website. And get this: a study found that when companies implemented “employee recognition programs” – in which the top worker for that month got a gift card, special parking space, or their name on a plaque – workers reported feeling happier, and 85% more engaged with their work!
  • Offer flexible schedules. Today’s employees want a better “work-life balance.” And instead of cash bonuses, many would prefer having the flexibility to work part-time at home – even if it’s just once a month.
  • To communicate with the boss! Like having a system in place where they can make suggestions, and know that the boss will consider them. As an example: the Las Vegas Cosmopolitan Hotel has a program where each year, all employees get three minutes to pitch new business ideas to the company’s executives. So far, the hotel has adopted 70 of those ideas. And since the program started, worker satisfaction levels at the hotel have skyrocketed.

So, why do these things motivate workers more than money? Edward Deci is a psychologist who says the problem with annual bonuses is that workers start to feel entitled to them. Meaning, they begin to anticipate the reward before they’ve actually done the work. And when that happens, motivation and productivity go down the drain!

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