Let's get one thing out of the way: I am not Scrooge. It's way too early in the season for that anyway.
I am a firm believer in, not only a heavy-handed bonus plan, but also offering perks and incentives to drive performance and behavior. In fact, I'm all for any sort of carrot that keeps people engaged and working hard to reach excellence. That being said, I also believe that clawbacks (a disincentive of the stick variety) are a smart risk management tool that you should add to your incentive program.
Bonuses are (and should be) given out to reward employees for exceptional performance. However, what if it is found that there was exceptional misconduct or misstatements made by the employee who received the bonus? Do you have any recourse? By having a clawback element in your company's bonus scheme, you are able to mitigate risk by recouping a portion of or all of the bonus.
There are two reasons for implementing a clawback element to your bonus scheme as a risk management strategy. First, a clawback element creates a disincentive for an employee to engage in any behavior that could be perceived as risky or harmful to the company. And second, if you focus the clawback properly, employees will come to understand not only on the potential punishment, but also how they can be engaged in reinforcing company processes and values in a way that benefits everyone involved.
We routinely talk about managing risk in the supply chain, but smart organizations manage risk in all areas of the company. Do you have a great example of HR risk management? Let us know in comments.