Even after all my years in help desk and technical support, I sometimes find that my motivation slips. I start to moan about the lousy pay, the lousy hours, the lousy holiday entitlement, the lousy canteen food, and the lousy air conditioning. At times like these, I’m glad my boss understands a support tech’s occasional apathy and knows how to combat burnout. A little reward and recognition always gets me back on track. If you’re not getting either, it’s time to talk to your boss and let him or her know how you feel. Here are a few simple suggestions for what kinds of praise and perks to ask for and how to ask for them.
Check out these other TechRepublic articles for more advice on how to curb employee burnout: “Prevent help desk burnout (part 1),” “Prevent help desk burnout (part 2),” “Members offer tips for preventing help desk burnout,” and “Take time to unwind.”
A moment of recognition and appreciation is all it takes to get a cynical old tech like myself back with the program. My boss is very good at providing this sort of morale boost. Whenever he spots signs of burnout, he sends me a short e-mail to say “well done” or to tell me how much he appreciates my work. I know that we are being paid to do our work, but another company could also just as easily pay us to do the same job. Share your desire for recognition with your manager and ask him or her for a congratulatory e-mail or a positive phone call once in a while. For more important actions or events, ask that the praise be given in front of the whole team or department. To keep workers happy, it is essential that they feel appreciated and rewarded.

A reward doesn’t always mean cash, although that is certainly welcome. It could be a pat on the back, a visit from your department’s vice president, some time away from your regular responsibilities, or even a trophy for a job well done or several years of service. Employee-of-the-month awards are a well-established means of recognition, yet they are often undervalued.

Ask your employer to tie something tangible and meaningful to the award. It could be a gift certificate to a nice restaurant or department store, or even an offer to pay for a training class or a weekend getaway. A day away from the office having fun is a great battery re-charger. You could even have a bonus that’s payable for repeatedly winning awards.

Use the right approach and a little common sense
A major employer complaint deals with employee retention. Often, a company will invest time and effort training an employee, only to lose that employee to another company that can afford to pay higher salaries. This other company can afford to pay better wages because it hires workers who are already trained. Use this argument to your advantage. Remind your boss that the savings achieved from not having to recruit new personnel would easily offset the cost of a little reward and recognition.

Don’t just barge into your boss’s office and demand the company pay for your next trip to the Caribbean. Think about what you’re asking for and if the timing is right. If your company is in dire straits financially or your department was just downsized, now may not be the right time to ask for a bonus. Likewise, if your boss was recently demoted, has just lost a family member, or you’re not a very good worker, he or she may not be receptive to your suggestions. Temper your enthusiasm with a little common sense, and hopefully your boss will give you the recognition and reward you deserve.
Let us know if your boss does a great job of recognizing and rewarding your hard work. Tell us which rewards work best for you. Do you prefer gift certificates, days off, or even a visit from a masseuse? Post a comment below or send Jeff Dray an e-mail.