Don’t Go For The DoughnutFiled Under Human Factors, Software Process
Don’t get me wrong, getting a hi-five from your boss is a pretty cool feeling, and getting a gift card for Best Buy from your employer is pretty cool too; however, what I do find often are people that allow themselves to only be rewarded in this fashion. I call this “Going for the doughnut” effect, that is, people allow themselves to only be rewarded with the occasional box of doughnuts and never with meaningful or sincere awards.
For example, let me tell you a little story about a guy I know: This developer bleed for his project managers for 2 months putting in over 80 hours each week to reach a fictional deadline. When the smoke cleared he emerged victorious…which he was promptly awarded a $100 gift card to Best Buy.
Cool right? WRONG.
First off, let’s put this into perspective. 80+ hours a week * 8 weeks = 320 hours of overtime. The reward was $100 for 320 hours of overtime = $0.3125 per overtime hour.
To add injury to insult in this story, the very same day his boss announced they would be doubling the company Fantasy Football pot to a tune of $400.
Alright, so what are the three elementary lessons to be learned here for all managers and team leads? Anyone?
1. Rewarded overtime >= $1/hr
If you are going to reward your employees, be sure to reward them with gifts that at minimum equal to $1 / hr of overtime. AT MINIMUM! Two 80 hour work weeks would be very justifiable if at the end of it you got a $100 gift card for that expensive downtown $30 a plate restaurant for you and the spouse to take a night off and reconnect. That sounds pretty good right? What about an iPod Touch after a really long project – cool! Just remember that they value of the reward does need to be at least in the ball park of the sacrifice put forth by your employees.
However, probably the most appreciated of all gifts is reciprocal time off, even if it is at a lesser ratio of 1:1. Put in a 80 work week – take next Friday off. As an employer you have to be an idiot not to take these opportunities. As an employer you are trading 40 hours of work for 4 hours of downtime, that is ROI that you can not beat!
2. Fun budget < Reward Budget
This is absolutely critical but so many people get it wrong – always spend your extra budget to reward hard work before creating a culture of fun. Sure it is great to work at a place that likes to have fun, but they call it work for a reason. You want to keep the resources that are top producers, not the people who are loyal solely because the company is cool and fun.
Creating a culture of fun is extremely important in any company, but showing your employees that you are business first is mission critical.
3. Advocate Sane Hours
If you have read my blog for awhile you know that I sincerely attempt to advocate a 8-5 hour day. I too get hung up in the office a few extra hours, but permanent heroics are a sign of a weary team and bad management. Good management knows when developers need to temporarily bleed and when that emergency is nothing more than a out-of-whack expectation.