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Glossary of Marketing Terms

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Reward schedules refer to structured systems implemented in workplaces to administer reinforcement or rewards based on specific criteria or behaviors. These schedules outline the timing and frequency of rewards given to employees in response to desired actions or performance. 

What is reward schedule?

A reward schedule is a pattern or system that determines when and how often reinforcers, such as rewards or punishments, are delivered in response to a specific behavior. It outlines the conditions under which a behavior will be reinforced, which can influence the frequency and strength of that behavior. 

Each reward schedule has its advantages and disadvantages. Fixed ratio schedules can lead to repetitive behaviors, while variable schedules maintain motivation over the long term. Fixed interval schedules may result in decreased effort between reward periods, while variable interval schedules promote consistent performance.

What is a fixed ratio reward schedule?

A fixed ratio reward schedule is a type of reinforcement schedule where a reward is delivered after a specific number of responses or behaviors. For example, in a fixed ratio 5 (FR5) schedule, a reinforcement is provided every 5th response. This schedule typically leads to a high rate of responding.

What is the intermittent reward schedule?

An intermittent reward schedule, also known as partial reinforcement schedule, involves providing reinforcement only some of the time that the desired behavior occurs. This contrasts with continuous reinforcement where the behavior is reinforced every time it occurs. Intermittent reinforcement can be based on various patterns, including ratio schedules (e.g., fixed or variable ratio) and interval schedules (e.g., fixed or variable interval).

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What are the 4 schedules of reinforcement?

The four primary schedules of reinforcement are:

  • Fixed Ratio (FR)
  • Variable Ratio (VR)
  • Fixed Interval (FI)
  • Variable Interval (VI)

What is the difference between fixed and interval ratio reward schedules?

Fixed Ratio (FR) schedules deliver reinforcement after a fixed number of responses or behaviors, regardless of the time taken to complete those responses. Fixed Interval (FI) schedules provide reinforcement for the first response after a fixed amount of time has passed since the previous reinforcement, regardless of the number of responses emitted during that time period.

Can you get a schedule reward with 0 percent impairment?

Whether a reward schedule is associated with impairment depends on various factors such as the individual's behavior, the nature of the schedule, and the context in which it's applied. In some cases, a reward schedule may not impair behavior, especially if it's carefully designed to encourage positive behaviors without causing harm or dysfunction. 

However, it's important to note that all reinforcement schedules, if used inappropriately or excessively, can potentially lead to negative outcomes such as dependency or behavioral issues. Therefore, it's essential to consider individual differences and the appropriateness of the schedule in the given context.

What is the importance of reward schedules in the workplace?

Reward schedules play a crucial role in motivating employees, shaping behavior, and fostering a positive work environment. By clearly defining when and how rewards are distributed, they provide a framework for employees to understand expectations and strive for excellence. Moreover, well-designed reward schedules can enhance productivity, job satisfaction, and employee engagement, thereby contributing to overall organizational success.

What are the different types of reward schedules?

The different types of reward schedules are:

  • Fixed Ratio (FR) Schedule: This schedule involves providing a reward after a fixed number of desired behaviors or actions. For instance, a sales team might receive a bonus for every five successful deals closed.

  • Variable Ratio (VR) Schedule: Rewards are given after a variable number of desired behaviors. This schedule is effective in maintaining consistent motivation, as employees are uncertain about when the reward will be received. An example is a customer service representative receiving bonuses after an unpredictable number of successful issue resolutions.

  • Fixed Interval (FI) Schedule: Rewards are provided at fixed time intervals, regardless of the number of behaviors exhibited. For example, employees might receive a monthly performance bonus.

  • Variable Interval (VI) Schedule: Rewards are given at unpredictable time intervals, encouraging continuous effort and performance. An example is a quarterly recognition program where outstanding employees are acknowledged at varying times throughout the year.

What are the factors influencing the effectiveness of reward schedules in the workplace?

The factors influencing the effectiveness of the reward schedules are:

  • Clarity and transparency: Employees must clearly understand the criteria for rewards and how they are distributed.

  • Fairness: Reward schedules should be perceived as fair and equitable by all employees to avoid demotivation and resentment.

  • Alignment with goals: Rewards should reinforce behaviors that align with organizational objectives and values.

  • Timeliness: Rewards should be provided promptly after desired behaviors to reinforce their occurrence.

  • Flexibility: Reward schedules should be adaptable to accommodate changes in performance expectations or circumstances.

What are the applications of reward schedules in the workplace?

The applications of reward schedules in the workplace are:

  • Performance management: Reward schedules are integral to performance management systems, incentivizing employees to achieve individual and organizational goals.

  • Employee recognition: They are used to recognize and appreciate employees' efforts, fostering a culture of appreciation and encouragement.

  • Training and development: Reward schedules can be employed to reinforce learning and skill development initiatives, encouraging employees to engage in continuous improvement efforts.

  • Behavioral modification: They can be utilized to shape desired behaviors and discourage undesirable ones, promoting a positive work culture and productivity.

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