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.

Metrics Today

Your recognition program metrics are a collection of various measures taken over time from your different recognition programs.

Typically these measures evolve around usage; nominations made; awards or rewards given; types of recognition messages sent; who gave the recognition, award or reward; the reasons for the recognition; and who the recipients were, along with other identifying information.

For most recognition managers the key recognition program metrics include participation levels, such as usage data such and the unique number of senders and receivers of recognition and number of nominations, points, awards or rewards given.

By looking at the different program measures managers and administrators can know what is working well and what is not.

Past Performance

Essentially, your recognition programs give you a point in time measure of who is using the recognition programs and when, who is being recognized, and what method is being used to communicate that recognition and/or give an award or reward to a person.

Past performance results gives you something concrete to compare your current recognition program data against.

You can start looking at year over year results as well as seasonally by quarter and month. Start overlaying qualitative factors that you are aware of from the past calendar of strategic direction, events and other circumstances, and you can possibly interpret reasons for why things happened the way they did with recognition.

Industry Benchmarks.

Unfortunately, there is a not a lot of industry benchmarks available for us with recognition and reward metrics that isn’t biased by vendors selling you their programs and offerings.

You can get broad recognition data around number and types of programs along with budgetary spend, etc., from organizations like Recognition Professionals International, Conference Board, and WorldatWork.

I am going to share with you a negative, and supposed benchmark. It is an example from a recognition and reward provider that made me shake my head when I saw it.

Some vendors make money on points, vouchers and rewards using what is called the issuance model. They sell you all of the points you need for a specific time period and you pay upfront whether your employee redeems them right away or not. They make additional monies from unredeemed points and this is referred to as breakage.

Other vendors provide options for you to pay only when the employees redeem their points.

The bad benchmark strategy was that this vendor had set up the usage reports with an arbitrary line across 80 percent usage and indicating “industry benchmark”.

This is not true.

The red line was an artificial inducement for people to use the rewards to reach or surpass that level. That way they’d feel like they were an industry best practice. What the vendor is doing is encouraging company managers and employees to spend more points or rewards so the vendor can make more money off of the customer.

So we don’t have a lot of narrowly focused industry benchmark data to go by right now.

Goals and Objectives

You have one thing you have control over and that is setting realistic goals and objectives for improving your recognition program metrics.

Engagement surveys, employee focus groups, gap analysis evaluations can provide you with a current state, and most importantly – metrics – that give you a baseline from which to improve upon.

You can then identify specific areas to focus on, establish appropriate objectives and implementation plans, and assign action steps and follow through on making those plans happen.

Always remember that the recognition program data you are looking at is referred to as lagging indicators. Recognition program metrics are mostly “output” measures and lag behind what you really want to improve – which is people recognizing one another. Lagging indicators are fairly easy to report out on yet hard to influence or improve upon.

In contrast, leading indicators are typically input oriented where you have to initiate some action that is measurable. However, leading indicators can be hard to measure but they are easy to influence.

A lagging indicator would be the number of recognition eCards sent in a year identified by each department. It is an after the fact output of what happened with the eCard program by managers and employees in that department.

But what preceded sending that eCard?

The more precise we can get with what happens beforehand we just might be able to influence it and change the metrics.

We might identify that managers and peers of employees always had a meaningful, work related conversation or encounter with a person before they ever sent them a recognition eCard.

A leading indicator for using the recognition eCards could be to measure the “number of meaningful, work related conversations or encounters with employees”.

You now encourage everyone through awareness building, communications, and education, to have more meaningful work related conversations or encounters and to tally up their daily results and report them in.

Can You Move Your Recognition Program Numbers?

Sadly, there is not much you can do to really change the metrics of your recognition program data. Not directly that is.

But what you can do is to help change and improve how people actually use the recognition programs. That is what will move the gauge on your program metrics.

Ideas for helping to improve recognition at your organization might include, but not be limited to, any of the following examples:

  • Supervisors and managers need educational resources, guidelines and tools on how to be more effective at giving recognition
  • Senior Leaders need to demonstrate greater involvement and exemplary usage of recognition practices
  • Need more Peer-to-Peer recognition programs to encourage more direct appreciation and acknowledging people for demonstrating behaviours consistent with the values and strategic goals
  • Recognition practices need to be imbedded into your staff and business meetings
  • Share more of the great stories of employees living your company’s values and other recognition worthy accounts across the organization
  • Create a formal recognition program to celebrate people living the values and achieving excellence because you don’t have one right now
  • Design communication plans to educate and reinforce recognition principles, practices and use of each of your programs
  • Create accountability process and review meetings to ensure recognition is an effective practice for achieving the strategic business plan
  • Consider an informal recognition and reward program for acknowledging performance more frequently such as on a monthly or quarterly basis

The better you understand your recognition program metrics the better you will improve recognition giving.

Question: What aspect of your recognition metrics bugs you the most?

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