Effort or result - which do you reward?

We're used to being rewarded for results achieved, but would rewarding effort be fairer and result in benefits for not only wellbeing but also productivity and performance?

It’s not only in the movies that we come across the following situation.  A person who continually works their socks off and is always there to help others, receiving the same or lower rewards than the person who talks themselves up, is not the most competent in their role, always has a reason for not helping others, but seems to have luck on their side when it comes to gaining rewards.

We tend to dismiss this as just one of life’s injustices and accept that some things aren’t fair.

Missing a trick?

But are we missing a trick that could have knock-on effects on workplace wellbeing, performance and productivity?

Sportspeople have long understood that although they won’t perform at their best every day, putting in 100% effort every time they turn up for training will be rewarded by consistently higher performance in the longer term.

This concept can and has been rolled out for other work settings.  We all know we have some days when, despite our best efforts, it just doesn’t happen for us, and our performance and productivity isn’t at our usual level.

Instead of beating ourselves up and creating further pressure, we could reward ourselves for our effort rather than our results.  We know we can return tomorrow, double down, and apply ourselves with renewed energy.  This being easier to do if we feel supported by a culture of understanding and encouragement to take a little time for self-care and re-charging on such occasions.  The result will be positive for our wellbeing and performance.  And, evened out over time, contribute to a rise in our overall productivity.

We finish with three thoughts for rewarding effort over results:

  1. If we place too much emphasis at work on rewarding individual results, we can miss out on the positive feelings of wellbeing that helping others and enjoying a good team spirit provides.
  2. Luck can sometimes be on our side and help us achieve a result, but we always know in our hearts the difference between luck and effort.  Knowing we have applied ourselves to reach a target results in a boost to our wellbeing and, ultimately, our productivity.
  3. Fortunate conditions that help produce a result may come and go, but well-rewarded effort can run and run, providing greater fairness, increased motivation and more consistent results.


Many other mental health, resilience and wellbeing tips are available on our website – please have a browse to find some that work for you.


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This tip appeared in our Spring 2022 newsletter.  If you would like future editions of our quarterly workplace wellbeing newsletter sent directly to your inbox, please sign up here


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