Copyright

Positive Reinforcement in the Workplace: Definition, Examples & Effects

Positive Reinforcement in the Workplace: Definition, Examples & Effects
Coming up next: Employee Retention: Definition & Strategies

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:03 Definition
  • 0:20 Why So Positive?
  • 1:26 Examples
  • 3:26 Application
  • 4:05 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shauna Kelley
Positive reinforcement is both a management style and motivational tool that supervisors can use to encourage employees to be more productive. Learn more about this practice and how it is used in the workplace.

Definition

Positive reinforcement is the practice of praising good effort in the workplace instead of, or in addition to, criticizing bad effort. This is a tool managers can use to motivate their employees to work well and fulfill their managers' expectations.

Why So Positive?

When you were in high school, did you have a teacher that just seemed to only see what you did wrong? All of his or her comments on your work were critical, and even if you earned a good grade, he or she always pointed out where you could have done better. How did you feel going into that class?

Now think of a teacher that always praised your efforts, even when you didn't do as well as you had hoped. This teacher perhaps put smiley faces on your papers, or wrote encouraging notes when you missed that mark. Did you feel differently going into that class?

The difference between these two teachers is likely not their knowledge or even that one is nicer than the other. The key difference between the teachers is that one relied on negative reinforcement, or criticizing and pointing out the bad rather than positive reinforcement, or praising the good. Chances are that you felt much more supported and were much more enthusiastic about going to the class with a teacher who relied on positive reinforcement.

This applies to the workplace as well. Research shows that employees who feel valued and important are more motivated, productive, engaged, and happy. Positive reinforcement builds these feelings in employees.

Examples

Consider the following scenarios involving Sally, a receptionist at a medical office, and her supervisor Jane. Think about what impact each option would have on Sally's work:

Scenario One

  • Sally has to complete weekly reports. Her latest one showed great insight and provided information that will help Jane make some important changes.
    • Jane's first possible response: Jane simply thanks Sally for the report.
    • Jane's second possible response: 'Sally, this is fantastic work. I really appreciate the insight you've offered here.'

Clearly, completing the report is part of Sally's job. Jane is not obligated to comment on the quality of the work, as in the first response; however, in the second response, she offers praise and calls out that she recognizes the extra effort that went into the work. Thus, Sally sees that extra effort is acknowledged.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create An Account
Support