Online recognition programs are websites acting as a central platform for a variety of recognition and reward programs. They allow everyone in an organization to express their appreciation, say thanks to folks, and give recognition for the great things people do at work every day.
Those with permission can also give people rewards, whether tangible, monetary, or experiential. You give rewards to people for going above and beyond normal work expectations and when excellent performance occurs.
What can your recognition programs tell you that you’re not tapping into?
Setting up business rules in the design and program strategy stage for a new recognition program can very interesting. I often get asked what ratio to set up for the usage of their recognition to rewards in their programs.
My answer is always the same. It all depends.
The thing is the answer really depends on the industry you are in and the need for using rewards or not, and many other factors. For example, a major Silicon Valley technology company will have a significantly higher ratio of rewards to recognition expectation than would a healthcare organization in Texas.
Here are a few guidelines to follow that might help you.
If you are considering setting up a points-based reward program, consider following this list of basic principles before meeting with a vendor or with your own IT team. Points-based incentives are a great tool to use for achieving amazing performance results and for motivating your employees.
Clarify the need for an incentive or reward program. Incentive and reward programs reinforce specific behaviors or actions achieved within a specific time period. Does this fit your purpose for why you want a points-based program?
List the perceived benefits of a point-based reward system. Points are an easily understood reward currency and an alternative to cash. They can be problematic if unredeemed or you paid on issuance. Ensure a great merchandise selection.
Create a business case for using a points-based rewards program. Discuss with all stakeholders the purpose, benefits, and costs, of a points-based program. Outline your action plans for monitoring and any course corrections as needed.
Identify the specific behaviors and positive actions you want people to do. Articulate the specific, actionable, objectives to be achieved that merit earning points. Tell employees things must be done in an ethical and non-gaming way.
Determine how you will track the occurrence of specific results. Figure out the right things to measure using the right measuring stick to do so. How will you know when an employee has performed the desired results in order to reward them?
Find the right way to measure the desired activity. Measure employee productivity and desired behaviors appropriately. Set up systems, recording methods, reports, and online processes needed to measure your target activities.
Figure out the appropriate reward levels for different actions. Different behaviors merit different point values. You can either reward incremental progress towards an end goal or wait for full task completion or target output reached.
Select meaningful and motivational items for point redemption. Make your reward values match the level or degree of performance done. Also give a wide range of merchandise items to choose from when employees redeem their points.
Ensure activities are done the right way for the right reasons. Points-based reward programs can instill gaming or manipulative behaviors. Tell employees to always do the right things that are aligned with both organizational and social values.
Set up analytic opportunities to mine the point-based reward data. Use advanced analytics to look at your points-based incentive data. Find out why certain activities are happening and prescribe what can be done to make great things happen.
Try out these focused actions as you lead others to give better and more frequent recognition. You will gain great enthusiasm and confidence for championing the cause of recognition in your organization. You’ll also help those you work with to better focus on giving recognition.
Choose one focus area that you can take on in the coming month.
Focus on being mindful of recognition. Be mindful of recognition by paying attention in every moment to amazing things people do that merit recognition. A timely response, a helpful solution, a kind gesture, or making a difference.
Focus on one recognition goal at a time. No one can do everything. Focus on achieving just one recognition goal. Whether programmatic or supportive, enlisting the help of others is easier when finding one thing to do better than anything else.
Focus on calendaring recognition activities. Clear the calendar and slot in recognition activities you need to work on. Program analysis, communication planning, learning content, etc. – plug into your calendar to get done vs. a to-do list.
Focus on a specific recognition task. Try out using two-week sprints to make things happen. Break down quarterly goals into monthly activities and then two specific tasks to work on every two-weeks. You’ll be surprised at what you can do.
Focus on leading indicators of recognition. We rely on lagging indicators like usage reports to make changes. But what proceeds every recognition activity. Now target these specific behaviors and increase personal connections for recognition.
Focus on your recognition strategy. Your recognition strategy outlines your recognition purpose and beliefs. It’s also a plan for improving recognition practices and programs. Review your strategy monthly and report on progress quarterly.
Focus on using recognition to support. Work with your senior leaders and review the business and people strategies to see how recognition can help. Revise and plan how to leverage recognition to drive various organizational initiatives.
Focus on practicing recognition daily. There is no better way to stay focused on recognition than by studying recognition principles and improving your recognition practices. Then look for ways to give better and more frequent recognition daily.
Focus on using your recognition programs. Go to your recognition programs first thing every day to see comments in the recognition news feed. Check out who has a birthday or a career milestone. Actively comment on posts and like what you see.
Focus on encouraging one person at a time. Eat, breathe, and talk about recognition in your meetings. Teach one principle or practice that someone else shared with you or found through research with one other person each day.
Perhaps you got lulled in by the 1990s mantra that “if you build it, they will come” when you designed your online recognition program.
The truth is the origin of that quote is a misquotation from the movie “Field of Dreams”. In the movie it is the lead character played by Kevin Costner, who hears the whisper from the cornfield, that “if you build it, he will come”. The “it” refers to a baseball field and the “he” is a long deceased, famous baseball player idolized by the lead character.
We all know the premise of the quote as it relates to business contradicts basic marketing principles. Establish a need for something first before you ever build it.
Let’s examine some reasons I have seen for why recognition programs may not be working very well.