Using Rewards and Punishments in a Workplace to Increase Employee Performance

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Organizational Behavior

Using rewards and punishments in a workplace to increase employee performance.

1. Punishment:
For example, docking an employee one hour of pay for being 15 minutes late to work is punishment.

From my point of view, a manager needs to understand what each concept is and how it applies to a situation. Then he can act according to the case. For reasons such as abuse, violence, harassment and theft, I think that the manager should use a punishment like a suspension or a termination, because it’s important mistakes and other employees could be victims. In other cases, like lower productivity, delays or absences, punishments are not the best ways. Indeed, using punishment when positive reinforcement (rewards) would be more effective, may creates undesirable side effects: Punishment can damage morale and hurt productivity and doesn’t necessarily cause an employee to demonstrate a desirable behavior. Also “Punishment leads to more punishment”, when a supervisor criticizes a worker for poor performance, the poor performance probably will stop. This pleases the supervisor and, therefore, could promote further use of punishment. The supervisor also may get reinforcement from the visible display of power. A vicious cycle is created. The threat of punishment must always be present. If the supervisor is the main source of punishment, employees tend to behave properly only when the supervisor is present. Punishment doesn’t bring about good work behaviors. It only temporarily stops one bad behavior from recurring. However, if the next most likely behavior is an appropriate one, punishment may elicit a good behavior. I think that the problem is knowing how people respond. Punishment leads to fear, psychological tension and anxiety, which may interfere with the worker's desire to behave properly. After being punished, a worker actually may want to behave properly, but this desire could be short-circuited by the worker's anxieties.

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