Reinforcement

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Long-Term Results

Positive reinforcement is often associated with a rewards system, when, in reality, it is an attempt to create sustained positive behavior. For example, a limited time sales bonus is not positive reinforcement. It is an example of a reward. Sustained quarterly sales bonuses based on exceeding goals is positive reinforcement. Likewise, negative reinforcement is not punishment. For example, suspending an employee for substandard work is punishment. Allowing employees to skip a daily safety training session because the company safety record has improved is negative reinforcement. The effects of reinforcement need to register in terms of changes in long-term behavior. Complacency

One of the potential negative effects of both types of conditioning is complacency. For example, rather than working to raise safety standards, your employees may just come to expect the daily safety meeting, and removing it may not produce the desired effect. A sales professional may become complacent with reaching the first level of a quarterly sales bonus instead of trying to reach higher levels. Making the negative activity less desirable can help combat complacency with negative reinforcement. For example, making the daily safety meeting an unpaid hour for employees may increase the desire to raise safety levels. Not allowing sales professionals to get paid for the same bonus level two months in a row until they have attained a higher level can encourage the sales group to reach for higher revenue levels on a consistent basis. Continuous and Intermittent Reinforcement

Reinforcement occurs on either a continuous or intermittent schedule, according to Tim Barnett, writing on the "Reference for Business" website. The most effective reinforcement schedule is a continuous schedule in which the reinforcement action occurs after every behavior. Intermittent reinforcement schedules can either be fixed or variable. An example of a fixed positive reinforcement is when...
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