The power of positive reinforcement is not a new concept. It has been around for over 100 years. The idea that we should reinforce desired behaviors to encourage them and discourage unwanted ones was first introduced by psychologist Edward Thorndike in 1898. Since then, countless studies have shown the benefits of using this technique in the workplace to create a more productive and profitable business environment.
This blog will explain how positive reinforcement will have a massive impact on bettering your workplace morale.
What Is Positive Reinforcement?
Positive reinforcement means rewarding good behaviors and stopping bad ones by giving them something they like when they do the desired behavior. Or, when you see employees properly wearing safety glasses, take notice of that employee and publicly reward the good behavior.
Why Is Positive Reinforcement Better Than Other Methods?
Positive reinforcement is better than other methods because it is easy to understand and follow for employees – they know what will happen after every action. The goal of positive reinforcement isn’t punishment; instead, it’s about utilizing rewards to encourage desired behavior and change undesired behaviors over time by avoiding withdrawal or punishing wrong actions. People want things that make them happy, like bonuses, prizes, or gifts, so if you can link those items with good behaviors, then people will naturally do the right thing while feeling good about it.
Positive reinforcement works well with those motivated by being praised and appreciated for their hard work. But that’s not the only group of people you can use this method on – a person in control of an incentive program could also offer bonuses or higher commissions to reward desired behaviors. No matter what your workforce is like, positive reinforcement will always be more effective than any other method. It has such strong psychological effects on people, leading them to do things they want to do rather than simply avoid punishment for bad behavior.
When you provide positive reinforcement to your employees for a job well done, you’ll get higher quality results and improved retention. It’s a win-win for you and your employees.
Positivity is the key to successful reinforcement. To make sure you’re correctly rewarding your employees, consider these five tips:
– Be positive and sincere when praising someone for their work
– Praise in public so everyone can hear it (but ask the person’s permission first)
– Give tangible rewards that are easy to see (e.g., a sticker or piece of candy)
– Make specific praise contingent on meeting certain goals or completing tasks correctly (e.g., “I’m proud of how quickly you finished this draft”).
– Set deadlines if necessary by saying things like ‘when you finish A, then I’ll give B’ where A and B have concrete meanings based on what task needs to be completed first.”
By reminding your employees that they’re doing a good job, you keep them motivated to work hard and achieve a goal. This is based on the fact that people perform better when they feel good about themselves.
Rewarding good behavior is the key to modifying people’s responses. Every day we are rewarded by our environment for certain behaviors and punished for others. This reinforcement process shapes how much time an employee spends on a task, their safety habits, and whether or not they follow instructions to do their job well.
It is much more effective to reward something good than punishing undesired behavior. In other words, it’s tougher not to do the right thing if you are rewarded for doing so rather than being punished for wrongdoing. The list of benefits of positive reinforcement goes on and on: employees who receive praise or recognition from their managers feel happier about themselves and more committed to a project; they also have higher self-esteem, less anxiety, better relationships with colleagues. And these feelings can be contagious—they spread through entire teams when people see that someone else has been given credit for something well done! Here’s how Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman explains this phenomenon in his book Thinking Fast and Slow:
The reason is simple: people are highly motivated to avoid negative feelings. In contrast, people have a low tolerance for pain and discomfort but an infinite capacity for pleasure; they enjoy doing things that give them positive emotions more than avoiding unpleasant ones.”
For example, Donna, a new manager, struggled to get her highway construction employees to wear their hard hats. When Bill advised her to try using the power of positive reinforcement, she showed up at the worksite unannounced and singled out the only worker wearing his hard hat. Donna thanked him publicly and gave him a big cooler chest. On her next trip to the site, Donna was greeted by the whole crew wearing their hard hats. Positive Reinforcement does change behavior!
See Chapter 6 of Green Beans & Ice Cream.
This chapter includes many examples explaining why positive reinforcement is better than any other management technique.
How do you effectively implement positive reinforcement?
* Give employees frequent recognition for their efforts.
* Reward them with a tangible reward to show your appreciation and reinforce the behavior you’re trying to encourage in the future (e.g., give an employee who works hard on one project a bonus).
The easiest way to implement positive reinforcement is by rewarding good behaviors, but it’s essential not to offer rewards or baseball tickets. Verbal praise or recognition is also productive. Praising someone should be meaningful, not arbitrary. When presenting an award or credit to an employee, make sure they know the criteria and why that behavior was so important to the company.
If possible, use the reward as a tool to teach new skills by having the employee explain what he did well and how it helped him in his job.
The goal of positive reinforcement is to give employees an incentive for continuing good behavior. Make sure that your rewards are desirable but also that they can be earned with relative ease – if you have more than one person vying for a promotion, don’t put them all on equal footing just because they’re equally qualified; instead, design promotions or bonuses such that some people will always succeed where others fail. To help ensure fairness among different departments within your company (e.g., sales vs. customer service), avoid giving prizes based solely on quantitative metrics like the number of calls completed or units sold and use qualitative measures.
What is the difference between positive reinforcement and bribery?
Managers often wonder what constitutes positive reinforcement and what is simply bribery. First, let us consider what bribery is. Bribery uses money, property, or other forms of wealth to persuade someone into doing something unethical or illegal. In contrast, positive reinforcement rewards people for good behavior with a tangible reward like an increased paycheck.
Positive reinforcement requires forethought and planning. There are social, psychological, and physiological factors that determine the effectiveness of any given reinforcer.
-Rewards should be appropriate for the recipient. If the person perceives the reward as having no value, it will not motivate them to continue their actions.
How can I reap the results of positive reinforcement today?
We’ve seen that positive reinforcement is a fantastic way to motivate people and improve their work. The key is figuring out what your employees want, which can be different for each person. Some may need encouragement, while others might prefer recognition or an opportunity for learning new skills.
You can be confident that the power of positive reinforcement is real. It’s been scientifically proven to increase your happiness, safety, and productivity in the workplace. Bill speaks at events all over the country about how positive reinforcement can do just that! His talks are thought-provoking and inspiring – guaranteed to leave your audience feeling more connected than ever before. If you’d like him as a motivational speaker for your next event or company meeting, please contact us today!
Or if you’re simply curious about this life-changing technique, order Bill’s book “Green Beans & Ice cream: The Remarkable Power of Positive Reinforcement.”