Can a Reward Be a Sin?

by Chris Herrmann

To be motivational, reward and recognition must be appropriate in the eye of the receiver. Tickets for the big game are fine if you enjoy sport. If you don't enjoy sport but you would like the value of the tickets to spend on something else instead, your reward just turned into another task; selling the tickets. Although they may be easy to sell on to someone else, the motivational edge has been diminished slightly.

The following is a bit like the health warning on a pack of cigarettes. This short compilation of religious issues highlights what could arise if you target an inappropriate reward on a person with certain strong beliefs. That's not to say this will be the case for everyone in that sub-group of humanity but nevertheless a little care and attention to detail can go a long way.

Most religions are becoming more flexible and tolerant in their outlook on what their followers may or may not do in their day-to-day lives; however there are still a few taboos that it would be worth reminding yourself about.


The favorite taboos always cited for those of the Jewish persuasion are food derived from the humble pig and any reference to the holocaust, Nazi Germany or World War 2. Apparently pork and bacon are not the issue they used to be however, it pays to ask. The use of the Nazi swastika emblem is actually illegal in some countries but the atrocities of the World War 2 live on in the minds of the Jewish people and should not be raised, even in fun.

References to non-Jewish festivals such as Christmas and Easter are also mildly insulting to some, but not all, Jews.


Pork meat can also be a problem for followers of Islam. It falls under a set of rules called Halal, laid down by the Islamic faith. Strictly speaking, any foodstuff that contains fats or by-products of pig meat will be forbidden. In addition many of them will not drink alcohol, so that free bottle of wine will just sit on a shelf. Interestingly vanilla essence, which is extracted using alcohol is also considered Halal; so no vanilla ice-cream either.


Although many people consider themselves to be Christians, it is only the devout Christians who may be offended by inappropriate gestures. Issues like sex, nudity, homosexuality and profanity may be acceptable to the majority of adults but a practicing Christian will be not only embarrassed but perhaps insulted much more than the average person.


Hinduism has a tradition of not eating beef as they see it as the unnecessary killing of a useful beast. Many Hindus eat a predominantly vegetarian diet and will also avoid pork, veal, lamb, fish, chicken and dairy products.

Nudity and profanity are heavily censored in Hindu culture. They are less tolerant than the average western community.

In general, it seems, food can be a bit of a hot potato, which makes an impromptu company barbeque a little complicated.

Copyright © Chris Herrmann

About the Author

Published by Chris Herrmann, corporate and business manager and author of Empower Your Business with The Motivational Edge; A Practical Guide to Employee Recognition and Reward. This book introduces managers to a range of traits commonly found inside companies and provides guidance about looking beneath the surface to reveal true performance. Included are 21 suggestions for rewards that work ranging from cream cakes to vacations and from vouchers to coffee mugs. Empower your business with a 100% risk free money back guarantee by purchasing your copy here.

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