My father-in-law has always spent his bonuses on his staff under the table. It ticks my mother-in-law off to no end. He has established a track record of doing it. Nobody else at his level does it. So although there is now an expectation within just his department, it doesn't mean that he couldn't end the program at any time.The problem is this: how do you motivate your employees to do good work? One of the issues that many people have brought up over time is that bonus programs rarely work well. There's a new generation called "gainsharing" which are doing better at tying bonuses to job performance, but this is developing slowly. In that environment, I'd definitely keep my bonus check. After all, I literally earned it.I don't have a "office" fund or anything like that where I work at now, and I'm a front line supervisor at a non-union plant. But the salary staff doesn't think anything of buying themselves lunches for meetings, etc. It isn't being used as an incentive (it's something of an expectation). It causes friction at the hourly level.So I buy my guys breakfast, donuts, hot chocolate/coffee on cold days working outside, etc., out of my pocket. But I try to do it only when it's appropriate (as a positive reinforcement tool). It keeps the bickering with regards to the office lunches to a minimum and gives me an incentive tool. It ticks my wife off but it doesn't amount to more than $100 over the year and pays good dividends back to me.In the areas where I have the leeway to spend money on them (equipment and tools for use on the job), I bought them non-standard safety glasses and goggles because I had a problem with a couple guys and eye injuries. I stressed that I will buy "the cool stuff" if they make an effort to wear it. My policy with regards to this stuff will change if the behaviors don't follow.As always, there's always the issue of fairness and appropriateness. It seems like companies always have very detailed and well thought out negative reinforcement programs (progressive discipline) at every level of the company. In contrast, their positive reinforcement tools tend to always be badly implemented. But as a supervisor, even in a union environment, I have always found ways to create positive and negative reinforcements. If nothing else, I can always control the work schedule and who gets crummy and cushy jobs.
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