The Importance of Being Nominated For An Award

Having read and watched the media reports from the 90th Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Oscars Awards, it reminded me that being nominated for an award is a pretty big deal.

You may know the Academy is an invitation-only membership of directors and actors. These two groups of 7,258 voting members are the ones who vote and decide upon the winners from their respective branches.

Being nominated by one’s peers means a lot to those who are nominated.

What can we learn from this annual Oscars award event about the importance of being nominated for an award? (more…)

Solve Recognition Program Problems With Positive Action

If there is one thing I know from over 20+ years in the field of employee recognition, and that is that recognition programs always come equipped with their own set of problems.

You can guarantee whenever you introduce and implement an online recognition program that some challenges and issues will arise.

Hopefully, you will have others helping you administer your programs. However, even if you are the maverick, “Indiana Jones” of recognition programs, working solo on solving your challenges, the following suggestions should still help you. (more…)

Top 10 Ways to Develop an Effective Recognition Program

Over 90 percent of organizations have at least one and often two or three recognition and reward programs in place. Like buying a new appliance for the home and reading all the instructions to start it up, the most important thing is making sure your recognition programs are effective and not just turned on. Check out these Top 10 Ways to Develop an Effective Recognition Program and see how you stack up. (more…)

How To Make An Effective Formal Awards Program

I was recently in a meeting with an organization who wanted to design a formal awards program and I think they were surprised with the additional insights I brought to the table that they hadn’t considered before.

I will outline a few of the critical elements needed for creating an effective formal awards program. These areas will be covered under five broad steps that entail quite a bit of work for each one.

Each of these steps will help you whether a manually administered awards program or one simplified through technology. (more…)

Taking a Good Look at the “V” Factors of Recognition Program Data

There’s one thing that online recognition programs can do for you over the regular, everyday interactive recognition practices.

Recognition programs produce data – lots of data.

And that’s why I want to highlight 3 factors around recognition data that all begin with the letter “V”.

Understanding them should help you see the benefit you can obtain from them if you’re not already drawing upon them. (more…)

Give People Social Badges To Increase Engagement

If any of you were ever in Boy Scouts or Girl Guides, or you currently have children in these programs now, you’ll be familiar with merit badges.

A merit badge is typically a round or geometric shaped material badge, with a symbolic image, representing more than a 100 achievement areas. You can learn about sports, crafts, trades, the outdoors, business and many other areas.

They are awarded to youth based on fulfilling a required list of activities and study in any chosen area.

Does anyone remember when Microsoft® Xbox 360 came on the scene back in 2005? That is when they first introduced the idea of digital badges as an achievement system within online games.

Badges are all the rage in the world of gamification with playing video games and online learning.

Today, digital badges use visual representation of real-world accomplishments such as running marathons or with certifying learning on instructional sites like Khan Academy.

I would advocate that badges are a great way to acknowledge people for living company values and accomplishing specific strategic goals.

What is the benefit from incorporating badges into your online recognition programs? (more…)

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…)