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The Rewards System

Updated: Jul 14, 2022

1.0 A vibrant organisation

A sleepy organisation is a stagnant organisation. A vibrant organisation is a progressive organisation. Whether the organisation is sleepy or vibrant depends upon the employees as well as the management. It's an AND gate. The employees as well as the management, both need to be vibrant for an organisation to be a progressive one.

2.0 Rewards and Awards

A healthy Awards and Reward system, integrated with the operating system helps to vibrate an organisation rhythmically. Some of these are one-time awards given for recognition of exemplary service rendered by an employee or a group of employees. Some are disbursed for sharing the sweet fruits earned on achieving an important node of a project. However, most of the awards are part and parcel of the progressive journey of the organisation and its employees, which are finalised through a standardised performance appraisal system.

3.0 Progress

The path of progress is not smooth. It passes through many nodal points. There are some major nodes and there are some minor nodes. The progress to every node would be laborious, time-consuming and may need some sacrifices. For a vibrant organisation, every day is a battle day. Battles are won, and progress is achieved. The gains and success at one node point may get neutralised by the loss at a subsequent node point. Hence final evaluation of gain and loss, the measure of long-term achievements, long term gains can be done by the organisation only after achieving the final point of the predefined progress journey or at a set periodic interval. Normally the criteria for such awards are well set, but the problem arises when reward expectations are voiced by the army of employees, randomly even when any minor progress node is achieved. Some members of the team expect rewards even after some short-term gains are achieved. Their horizon is short. Their view is myopic.

Work, Success and Reward are the branches of the same progress tree. Work leads to achievement and progress. It is natural to expect a reward but the question is, when and in what form. We will discuss here the evaluations and rewards disbursal after the achievement of the final goal in a project or those rewards declared at set intervals.

A healthy reward system supplements positivity which is the basic requirement for progress. If any negativity or negative pockets are found these are blamed on an imaginary devil called “office politics”. In reality, the root cause of negativity is the faulty awards and rewards system and correction needs to be applied there. The system creates an imaginary Goliath. And then it tries to create its version of David.

4.0 Recognise the potential of your employees

Every organisation has its leaders and followers. The organisation needs to progress and it is only through the composite and integrated action of all employees that it achieves progress. The desire to excel, as an employee, is the fuel for progress. The persons have a good sense and desire to progress and make good and engaged employees. They are the main phalanx of the pushing and fighting army of an organisation.

The overpowering desire to excel is the fuel to compete and conquer. Such employees make the leaders in the organisation.

Then some employees are aware of all the positive tools of progress but are unable to use them. Such persons are also useful to the progressive organisation as the supporting “Pillars of strength”. Their tacit knowledge of the industrial processes, and the ability to differentiate between right and wrong give them a seat of importance.

When the goal is achieved, the fruits of achievement need to be disbursed fairly. Can the organisation be fair in achieving a balance between expectations and reward disbursal? Can the rewards system help the organisation prepare for improved performance in the future journey?

5.0 Know your employees

Employees work. All categories of employees work. They carry out their assigned duties, that is “Karma”, but they are not “Karma-yogis”. Our scriptures talk about “Karmees” and “Karma-yogis”. Verse 47 of the 2nd Aadhya’s of Gita has been interpreted in many different ways by philosophers. The verse advocates that people should work without any rewards or expectations. However, such individuals are rare, and rightly, the individuals for whom success itself is the reward are known as “Karma-yogi”. They expect no other tangible reward and are said to be content with the achievement which itself is their reward. The other type of employee is, in simple terms, called “Karmees” who expect tangible rewards for their achievements. However, this is a broad differentiation and can be considered a theoretical one.

6.0 Practical scenario

“Artha Sampada”, that is, the desire to acquire wealth is the main drive horse for the “Karmees”, while “Jigyasa”, which is a desire to learn can be considered as the main drive horse for the “Karma-yogis”.

In a flourishing and thriving organisation, however, there cannot be a full-fledged “Karma-yogi” working for the organisation and achieving goals just for the purification of his soul. The expectation of reward, in today’s practical world, is natural. Rewards and Retributions are accepted by all as organisational culture and wheels for its survival.

In the Indian context, it has been noted that composite identity with “Karmee” type and “Karma-yogi” type exists in all employees. Recognising the extent and balance of the same is very important. It helps in quantifying and disbursing rewards. Just and equitable disbursal of awards and rewards helps to satisfy the desires for “Artha Sampada” and “Jigyasa” in the employees. The chariot of progress can then drive on successfully.

7.0 Basic level of rewards

7.1 Tangible rewards

Expectations need to be addressed. An organisation needs to decide the base level and then all involved in the success march, without exception, should be rewarded with tangible rewards, commensurate with their respective input and role in the achievement. Here, a fair Performance Evaluation system would be of great help. Base level rewards would include, cash rewards and bonuses, promotions to the positions of consolidation of gains and achievements, opportunities for driving an iterative correction loop etc. Most of the “Karmees” would get fairly accommodated in this disbursal.

7.2 Intangible rewards

The intangible rewards would be in addition to tangible rewards, but these would not carry any additional cash benefits. The “Karma yogi” part of an employee’s personality needs to be addressed through these rewards. These rewards include training deputations for skill enhancement, more exposure to the organisation’s businesses and activities, and additional responsibilities through opportunities to represent the organisation. These are leadership opportunities for the further march on the progress path. In fact, in the beginning, these would mean hardship to the concerned employee rather than additional financial gain.

Who should be the awardees of the intangible award? In case some new positions are created, where should these positions be filled from, which categories of employees should be given these intangible benefits and which guidelines need to be followed?

7.3 Intangible rewards to the “Karmees”

Here we must take help from the “Triguna” hypothesis from our scriptures (“Satvik”, “Rajasik” and “Tamasik”). One obvious choice for these rewards would be to those among the “Karmees” who have predominant “Rajasik” Gunas, desires to compete, conquer and acquire. These would be the right choice to don the leadership cap, but only after assessing the mix of their basic traits, the “Trigunas”. A predominantly “Rajasik” person guided by “Tamasik gunas” such as cruelty, anger, jealousy, and vengeance would not be the right choice. That would be an invitation to doom. On the other hand, a person with extreme “Satvik” traits would also be a bad choice as he might exercise a high level of some of the “Satvik” traits which may dilute his competitive spirit.

The intangible rewardees are the chosen few. These are normally identified as future leaders of the organisation, those with powers to steer the organisation. Therefore, it can be said that the sustainability of the organisation depends to a large extent on the disbursal of the intangible rewards. This is because, while tangible rewards may bring a general feeling of peace, contentment and bonhomie and will help to project the factual image of the organisation, the intangible rewards will shape the future of the organisation, the acceleration on future progress path of the organisation. Hence every intangible reward needs to be handed out with great care and only after an assessment of the intrinsic traits of the employee.

7.4 Intangible rewards to the “Karma-yogis”

A few employees which need to be considered for intangible awards may be “Karma-yogis” predominantly, who may consider success, and appreciation, as the more valued rewards for the battle of progress fought by them with determination. These would not be vociferous about their part in the achievement of the project but would have a balanced approach and would not come forward with expectations. These employees are likely to be ignored due to their lower visibility while handing out intangible awards and perhaps they would easily be relegated to “pillars of strength to the organisation” and there they may rot. Their intense “Jigyasa”, desire to learn needs to be given a correct opportunity through intangible awards as the elevation of their stature will reflect on the company’s stature in the long run.

Judgmental skills of management are needed to recognise the fire to “work-compete-acquire”, burning inside the “Karma-yogis” and to ascertain that they are not the burnt-out “Karma-yogis”, in which case, they would only be fit to be “the pillars of strength” of the organisation.

7.5 Disbursal of rewards to the “Pillars of strength for the organisation”

Now comes the question of disbursal of rewards among the pillars of the organisation. It should be remembered that pillars cannot be for eternity. They have their period of usefulness in the conquest, in the march of the organisation, to stand on the side and to approach the fighters and read their psyche, strengths, and weaknesses and bolster waning courage, infusing skills drawn from their own experiences and playing a passive but positive role in the success story. The role of such employees is beyond measurement. Hence times tangible awards may not be possible. But it would be unfair to ignore them and some out of box thinking are essential while disbursing rewards to this category.

8.0 The iterative loop

One important task that cannot be ignored is the iterative loop. Any conquest has its losses. It is necessary to recognise and improve upon the weaknesses for readiness for next march to progress. The “why” of negative vibrations needs to be checked out immediately. Correction at this stage would come at a low cost if the management puts in earnest efforts. “Pillars of the strength of the organisation” can be helpful here with due incentive.

9.0 Pitfalls

A fair assessment is a key to satisfactory disbursal of rewards. However, judgmental clouding should be avoided when dealing with the following types of employees.

There are two types of employees which are difficult to detect and difficult to deal with. These are the “Akarmees” and the “masked Karma yogis”.

9.1 “Akarmees”

As per our scriptures, “Akarmees” are those who do negative work. They negate the progress of the organisation due to their negative inputs. However, they may blame it on some other employee, the environment, managerial indifference or any other possible element. As we wish to follow the principle of rewarding all, at least at the base level, we cannot exclude these from rewards. However, the iterative loops instituted to go into one and all negativity issues should be very effectively used to detect the root cause of the problem and action should follow only after following the law of social justice.

9.2 Masked Karma yogis

It is the most difficult task to differentiate between genuine “karma yogis” and masked “karma yogis”.

The masked “karma yogis” may have hidden agenda and may secretly be expecting rewards immediately, if ignored, they may turn into disgruntled employees, spreading poison. Masked “Karma yogis” follow the path of deception. This would easily alter the vibrations of the organisation. Their value system may also be faulty. Their hidden agenda of “Artha Sampada” cannot be dealt with effectively. They are not open and transparent. No iterative loop can tackle their problem properly. These need to be dealt with extreme caution and managerial effectiveness.

10.0 Punishment

Is Punishment an integral part of the Award and Reward system? Is the Management justified in hanging above the heads of the employees the Androcles’ Sword of punishment as a deterrent? There are answers to this, again back to our scriptures.

In his discussion of Shatsampatti, Pujya Shri Adi Shankaracharya has elaborated six virtues, namely,

“Shama”. Inner tranquillity of mind.

“Daam”. Control over your senses.

“Titiksha”. Forbearance, Patience, and Ability to endure the undesirable situation.

“Shraddha”. Complete faith.

“Uparati ”. Enjoying all tasks with enthusiasm.

“Samadhana”. Contentment.

The management expects that it should enjoy the full faith of the employees (Shraddha), the employees should deliver with enthusiasm all the tasks allocated to them (Uparati), and be contented, (Samadhan).

What should be the reaction of the management in case of breach of any of these? Again we go back to “Shatsampatti”.

The management should control its emotions, should have control over its actions (Daama), should have Forbearance, Patience, the ability to endure undesirable situations (Titiksha), and should maintain balance and tranquillity (Shamaa).

Where is the place for punishment in this? It is to be noted that the errors and misalignments are in most cases transitory. The place of the management of an organisation is way above the limited world of the employees, it is much stronger, powerful and wiser. It does not suit management to punish employees randomly, and thoughtlessly.

11.0 Conclusion

No system is perfect, no solution is a perennial medicine. Nothing in this world remains unchanged.

Achievers may not achieve every time. Efforts may not bring success every time. “Karmees” may not get satisfied with the reward handed out, “Karma yogis” may Don the hat of “karmees” and may expect a reward. The organisation may reach a saturation point of rewards and thereby attrition of high-end “Karmees” will take place. Erosion of social values may corrupt the “Pillars of strength”.

The equations in the pan India scenario change differently from those in the western world and our answers lie not in the preachings of western gurus but in our scriptures.

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