2 Ways To Use Your Recognition Programs More Effectively

Everyone wants to improve recognition program usage.

Recognition program owners often want their recognition programs to increase from a quantitative perspective. Why? Because to them these numbers validate their programs’ and their job’s existence.

Areas they want improved are number of people using the program, number of recognition recipients, e-cards sent, social comments made, number of nominations or points given.

Rarely do recognition managers look at the effectiveness of their programs

And that’s what I want to address and where I am going to give you some ideas to think about. (more…)

Top 10 Powerful Ways to Save Your Recognition Budget

 

When talking about recognition and rewards programs the word “budget” is sure to come up. There are few owners of corporate recognition programs who have not dealt with one cut or another over their lifetime. This month I asked 10 seasoned practitioners responsible for recognition programs for their budgeting advice. Their wisdom gives you the Top 10 Powerful Ways to Save Your Recognition Budget.

  1. Get strategic with your recognition budgets. Look at the different types of recognition programs and initiatives available to you and budget where you will gain the greatest business impact and positive response from people. Align recognition to achieve strategic initiatives and let the culture drive recognition.
  2. Measure recognition program effectiveness. Consistently measure both program usage metrics as well as employee perception of recognition effectiveness to learn which employees and where are being impacted the most. Move beyond just reports to actually analyzing the data and correlating with your KPI’s.
  3. Create a sustainable program budget. It is critical to create the business case for your recognition program budget that is sustainable year over year by your senior leaders. With a sustainable budget you can more likely add to it to than becoming the recurring target for being cut whenever financial problems arise.
  4. Build in internal and external accountability. Assign recognition and rewards budgets to each departmental leader and use the program data to hold them accountable. Hold external providers accountable by checking regularly on program usage and spend to reduce costs where programs are not having an impact.
  5. Do a reality check on program equality and accessibility. Correct expectations and educate leaders when not all employees are getting the same benefit of recognition as others do. Programs need to be accessible to all parties even if the criterion needs to be established differently for the various business units.
  6. Research everything and do your homework. Keep up with the latest research findings from professional associations, conference boards, academic institutions and consultants. Mesh their data with results you are getting from your programs. Do interviews and focus groups to collect internal data and compare findings.
  7. Prioritize and shake things up. Money has an amazing way of adjusting your priorities. Nice to have must take second place to need to have when budgets are tight. If stuck too much to the tried and true, a revised recognition strategy may dictate a shake up to achieve more meaningful business and people goals. 
  8. Demonstrate program impact and ROI. Leaders always want to know the results they get from the money they have invested. All recognition programs must demonstrate some form of business impact and where feasible a calculated Return on Investment. Sometimes the benefit is relational and keeping good people happy.
  9. Be transparent with everyone across the company. When recognition budgets are targeted for cuts it is every leader’s problem not just HR. Tell leaders the needs and brainstorm ideas. Gain everyone’s support for keeping recognition and doing it differently. Don’t work in isolation and be open to employee input as well.
  10. Collaborate inside and outside the organization. Ask your fellow leaders across the organizations for ways to save money and use internal resources for typically outsourced work. Shorten length of conferences or award events. Use less expensive award items. Be candid with your vendors and get their input too.

 

Previously published in Incentive Magazine, January 2016

How To Get the Low Down on Your Recognition Program Metrics

It is essential for you to know your recognition program data so you can understand how to use this data to leverage the results for elevating your performance and people metrics.

Too often I get asked about best practices in various aspects of recognition practices and programs. The problem is, whenever I see a best practice it likely took the professionals in that company 2 or 3 years to get where they are today.

For you to simply copy what they are doing right now immediately puts you behind the times the minute you start to do what they are doing.

So don’t compare yourself too closely with your competitors or other industry leaders.

I am going to take you on a reality check regarding your recognition program metrics. Then we’ll see what we can do with the numbers. (more…)

Top 10 Solutions to Typical Recognition Program Problems

Whenever technology is involved there will always be bugs and glitches that get in the way. Likewise with recognition and reward programs. However, for the most part the biggest problem with recognition programs is not technology. It is the people factor and how recognition programs are used. Consider these Top 10 Solutions to Typical Recognition Program Problems to help you out.

  1. Poorly Planned Programs. Too many leaders launch recognition programs without a plan. Create a recognition strategy with purpose, philosophy and principles. Determine overall objectives you want to achieve with them. Then set specific, measurable goals so you know how to measure your progress. Develop an annual plan to improve the weak areas of your recognition programs.
  2. No Management Participation. Start right at the top by lobbying for an executive sponsor to champion the recognition cause. Show leaders how to use the programs and provide supports. Personally commit leaders to using recognition programs. Educate managers on recognition practices and using programs. Hold managers accountable for usage and monitor program reports.
  3. Lacking Consistent Usage. You have your recognition programs in place but managers and employees aren’t using them. Apathy and complacency are the enemies of using tools for what they were meant for. Set clear expectations for using the programs. Regularly communicate how to use programs and share positive examples of great recognition givers and their impact on people.
  4. Inability To Recognize. Recognition programs are simply tools for giving appreciation and recognition to other people. An effective user of recognition programs must already be effective in giving recognition face-to-face. Teach people the positive behaviors associated with giving people meaningful, memorable and motivational recognition. Expect people to apply these skills first.
  5. Too Achievement Focused. Some recognition programs are really reward or incentive programs labeled solely as recognition programs. That’s because rewards are being used to reinforce performance outcomes. This can create an entitlement mentality. Don’t forget to use recognition programs to express appreciation, acknowledge people, and communicate gratitude for everyone.
  6. Programs Remain Unknown. Sad to say it but there are companies with recognition programs that their employees don’t even know about. I’ve seen it when we get companies to inventory all the rogue programs that exist. Create a centralized strategy with some core programs and allow local programs to continue. Now brand, communicate and promote them everywhere you can.
  7. Unclear Program Expectations. Spell out the expectations for each type of recognition program. Social recognition programs connect people with each other and positive actions. Performance recognition programs reinforce positive behaviors and strategic goals. Milestone or service awards are a celebration of people’s contributions. Don’t expect the wrong things from different programs.
  8. Lousy Rewards Criteria. Recognition and reward programs can create problems when criteria for rewards are not clearly determined. What one person determines is above and beyond is different for someone else. Develop clear criteria for rewards based on whether the action was once or consistently done; the degree of impact of their actions; and who and where the impact was made.
  9. Big Hoopla Launch. Beware grand launching of new programs with big, glitz and full of pizzazz. Ask any IT department about introducing new software and they’ll tell you there are always bugs. Best advice I can give is if you start big you will end small; if you start small you will end big. Start with piloting the program in one division first. Iron out any program glitches before going company-wide.
  10. Not Creating ROI. Recognition programs can be a sitting duck for being reduced in scope or completely eliminated when seen just as a feel-good-activity. Your recognition programs must be aligned with your businesses goals and seen as a performance driver. Make sure you are fully using reports and analytics to correlate recognition with results and always calculate business impact and ROI.

 

This article was originally published in the Strategy column of September 2017 issue of Incentive Magazine.

 

You Can Get Unstuck From Rewards With Recognition

One of my Rideau colleagues recently shared with me their observations of how many mid- to large-sized businesses are challenged with how to transition more away from rewards towards recognition.

Then within a week of this conversation one of our blog subscribers at a financial services company wanted to know how to reduce their budget costs and lessen the amount of gross up tax spend on their gift card rewards program.

So, it seems the topic of rewards is in the air again!

Since many companies are using rewards it only makes sense I should share with you how best to transition from, or lessen, your use of rewards and move towards more recognition, or at least a happy medium between the two. (more…)

The Amazing Spillover Effects of Formal Recognition

Over three-quarters of surveyed companies have some form of best-of-the-best or above-and-beyond formal recognition award program going on.

This is great for those employees who seem to excel and shine at everything they do. They end up enjoying the celebratory experience at the annual awards event.

But what about employees who don’t get an award?

Award programs can appear to create an exclusivity that pits one person winning over and above their fellow employees.

So how do peers perceive formal award winners? What are the benefits for companies of doing formal awards when so few employees actually end up receiving them?

I am going to explore this topic through the lens of some recent academic research I discovered this week.

Spoiler alert: The outcome is positive as the title of this post implies.

Let’s dig in! (more…)

What Makes Your Recognition Program A Success?

As a judge for Recognition Professionals International (RPI) Best Practices Award I have had the opportunity to evaluate with my colleagues 72 individual company nominations.

Each nomination requires companies to prove to the judges how they have effectively demonstrated each of RPI’s seven best practice standards, i.e.

  1. Recognition Strategy
  2. Management Responsibility
  3. Program Measurement
  4. Communication Plan
  5. Recognition Training
  6. Recognition Events and Celebrations
  7. Program Change and Flexibility

We score each submission on these standards and provide collective feedback for the owners of the programs to consider and incorporate into their programs and possibly future nominations.

With this perspective in mind let me address what makes a recognition program a success. (more…)

What Is The ROI On Our Recognition Program?

Someone had to ask the question.

It could be a senior leader asking you about the ROI (return on investment) of the proposed recognition program before they sign off on the approval.

Or maybe your CFO asks the question before he’ll issue the cheque.

Whether for fiscal responsibility or validation of the value of employee recognition programs, calculating the ROI can be a helpful tool to communicate the success of your recognition programs.

How do you calculate the Return on Investment of your recognition programs?

Here are a few things to keep in mind. (more…)

Which Recognition Program Do You Start With First?

 

You have either personally asked or thought about this question, or the leader you report to might have asked you.

“Which recognition program do you start with first?”

Lewis Carroll, in his unforgettable tale of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”, gives us a clue to the answer to this question.

The main character, Alice, sees the Cheshire Cat sitting on the bough of a tree and decides to ask it a question.

“Cheshire Puss,” she began, rather timidly, as she did not at all know whether it would like the name: however, it only grinned a little wider.

“Come, it’s pleased so far,” thought Alice, and she went on.

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

“I don’t much care where—“ said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat

Likewise, you need to take the recognition program road you would like to take. Lead by your company’s purpose, recognition needs and budget realities as well as your own experienced opinion.

And if you don’t have a destination, objective or purpose then I will help you choose one. (more…)

I have had people ask me about points-based recognition and reward programs and the pros and cons of Issuance Model and Redemption Model payment plans. Hopefully this Top 10 Insights on Paying for Program Awards will answer those who have questions.

Date: June 15, 2017
Appearance: Top 10 Insights on Paying for Program Awards
Outlet: Incentive Magazine
Location: New York, NY
Format: Magazine