28 September, 2021

How Positive Reinforcement leads to better collaboration in the workplace

Positive reinforcement, that is, offering a reward to encourage the repetition of a desired behavior, is now a popular practice in management. However, most organizations use it specifically in the context of monetary employee rewards for individual performance, overlooking the various ways in which it can be used to improve workplace culture and team connection. In this blog, we’ll explore how to use positive reinforcement for increased collaboration.

Collaboration encourages united vision. When members of a team know that they are working towards a common goal, it becomes easier for them to view teammates’ wins as their own. It also promotes productivity through cross learning, thereby clearing the path for growth. Collaboration ensures mutual employee appreciation and empathy by its’ very nature, thereby enriching work culture. To encourage a feeling of unity, an effective total rewards program can be implemented in an organization that focuses on celebrating teams as much as individuals. Here are some ways in which this can be accomplished:

Formal Recognition

  • Formal employee recognition is different from other rewards in that it carries prestige and honor but isn’t necessarily monetary in nature. It is precisely this difference that makes it conducive to team building. In an experiment conducted by professors from various business schools, it was discovered that performance improved for the whole team when the best performing member was recognized publicly. The experiment revealed that teams in which the formal recognition of the best employee was not conducted, the performance for the whole team decreased. This indicates that employee recognition programs need to be fairly and uniformly implemented throughout the organization to prevent inter-team animosity and divisiveness, while improving performance.

Group Awards

  • Positive reinforcement in the form of group experiences not only encourages favorable behavior but also boosts a sense of bonding in the team. For example, one of our clients recently awarded a top performing team with F&B gift cards to order a meal for Friday night dinner in today’s WFH environment. However, the management insisted that the team celebrate their success by eating on Zoom together. Such a personalized reward had a direct impact on team cohesion while leaving them vying for the next milestone.

Awarding Culture Champions

  • Most employee reward programs make the mistake of rewarding individual progress and expecting the winners to also be team players. Such discrepancies can be corrected by rewarding individuals for displaying team-oriented behavior. For example- organizations can track those who are giving recognition or positive feedback to others and create a reward category, just for them! This can be done more seamlessly using an employee recognition tool in today’s WFH environment.

A fair and holistic rewards system minimizes hostility among coworkers and turns competitors into allies working towards the top based on objective metrics. A digital award nominations system including self-nomination, group nomination and transparency in the approval workflow can also go a long way in promoting trust and a sense of healthy competition. Finally, the role of the leadership and managers remains ever important to facilitate positive reinforcement at every level of the organization.