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Can Performance Bonuses Make Other Employees Feel Left Out?

Employees who feel excluded may be less invested in succeeding within your company, as well as the company’s success as a whole. Leaving out employees can create a toxic work culture with distrust, issues with morale, and lapses in productivity. Teambuilding, active inclusion, social activities, and other strategies are proven effective for keeping employees from being left out, feeling excluded, and fostering a toxic work culture. But the question remains, do performance-based bonuses make some employees feel left out?

Performance Bonuses

Most businesses use bonuses and incentives in some form or another. Performance-based bonuses are distinct from general employee appreciation in that they reward the individual achievements, numbers, milestones, etc, of individuals or, sometimes, teams, groups, departments, etc. And they work! Most employees who are recognized for their hard work report feeling more engaged and a good portion of employees report that they wouldn’t be inspired to put forth an extra effort if there isn’t a promise of a tangible reward. That said, performance bonuses aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution to morale or productivity. And, although most recipients prefer cash-based or cash-value incentives, the reward itself is just one small part of the whole incentive program. Bonuses have to reward the things that suit your business’s individual needs as well as those that make a good and effective employee. There also needs to be a clear and direct connection between what is required to earn these bonuses and the bonuses themselves; that is, employees have to know and understand why they’re being rewarded/what specific behaviors and actions led to the reward. Therefore, it must also be understood before the fact exactly how the reward can be obtained. If there isn’t a clear understanding and equal attainability that alone can lead to people feeling left out.

Are Employees Left Out?

What we should be starting to see is that a “performance bonus” is a term that covers a huge variety of performance-based incentive programs, which each have their own rewards, reward types, methods of obtaining them, and equity of attainability. So, can performance bonuses make employees feel left out? Yes, if they’re done totally wrong. Everyone should have a level playing field when it comes to these bonuses and the performances that they demand need to be realistic and reflected in the bonuses themselves.

Reward, Don’t Punish

A bonus is supposed to be, well, a bonus. If your employees have to rely on bonuses and incentives, outside of commission-structured work, then these bonuses will stop feeling like a bonus and begin to feel like a necessity that demands, rather than rewards, extra work. You also want to be sure to strongly link the reasons for the rewards and the rewards themselves, and your program needs to be focused on long-term growth, not demanding short-term results that burn out employees. If the performance bonus is rewarded based on well defined, universally accessible, criteria, then you’re not likely to run into employees feeling left out. Of course, there will always be those who are less interested and less tempted by performance bonuses, but since your payment structure shouldn’t rely on those bonuses for fair compensation, the choice to participate is theirs to make, and they’re much less likely to feel left out. Employee appreciation is for everyone, but performance bonuses are necessarily for those who put in the extra effort. Sticking to the tips in this guide will help you craft a performance bonus program doesn’t leave anyone feeling left out.

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