How To Set Up a Point-Based Reward Program

Many people have clicked on a previous version of this blog post wanting to learn how they should set up a point-based reward program. 

Unfortunately, some individuals and recognition and reward providers suggest certain ideas as being best practices so the client’s employees will consume more points. So, buyer beware and let’s learn some principles versus supposed best practices to guide you.

My goal is to provide you with objective information along with solid principles for you to make wise decisions by.  I will also give you some pros and cons for some options.

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Build Your Recognition Programs From the Bottom Up

Designing and developing recognition programs take a lot of thought, planning, and creativity.

The best way I can recommend beginning is to consider the distinct programs falling under a pyramid. And like building most structures, the foundation is critical because it holds everything built on top of it.

That’s why you build your recognition programs from the bottom up. 

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How To Improve Your Recognition Programs

Ben Feldman was a successful insurance salesperson back in the 1940s. When asked how he achieved his repeated multimillion-dollar sales year after year, he said, “If you’ve got a problem, make it a procedure and it won’t be a problem anymore.”

It is the same with improving your recognition programs. You first have to put some procedures in place, then you won’t have any more problems with your recognition and reward programs. 

The key to consistently improving your recognition programs is to follow a quality improvement process, like the following. 

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5 Easy-To-Spot Signs Of Potential Reward Problems

You may have seen it elsewhere or experienced it. Hopefully, you’re not dealing with it right now.

Runaway budget spent on gift cards, merchandise, points, and even cash rewards. Negative attitudes and perceptions of employee recognition. 

Let me give you just five indicators that you might have some potential reward problems lurking in the shadows of your well-intentioned recognition and reward programs.

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How To Celebrate From A Distance

Yesterday, I celebrated my birthday with my family from a distance.

Families sang happy birthday to me via FaceTime or sent unique greetings like the JibJab Happy Quarantine Birthday with my face and my children’s faces imposed on dancing animations. 

All the families surprised me in the evening with a Zoom video conference get together and playing 3 rounds of the smartphone app game called Psych. Highly recommend this if you haven’t played it with a group of people yet.

My one granddaughter had made cookies and her Mom put a single birthday candle on the cookie and I virtually blew it out as she blew it out. However, she ate the cookie!

Now that’s what happened for me to celebrate a birthday. 

What can you do to celebrate your employees’ career milestones virtually? How do you celebrate employees who make a difference or for significant achievements from a distance because of the COVID-19 pandemic?

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How To Tie Recognition to Your Organizational Values

You must always remember one principle of recognition, and that is your organizational culture will drive recognition practices and recognition programs throughout your organization.

In like manner, it is the organization’s customary recognition practices and exemplary usage of your recognition programs that will drive your organizational culture.

No wonder so many organizations gear up their recognition programs to focus on recognizing people who live their values.

Look at the various ways in which you can tie recognition practices and programs to your organizational values.

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How to Make Your Recognition Programs Last

Push button. Launch. Blast off!!

Your recognition program has just gone live. But for how long will it last?

How do you make recognition programs last? Making recognition and reward programs last over the long term requires an open-mindedness to the ongoing transformation of your programs.

It’s about looking for ongoing change and constant quality improvement. Maybe breaking things even when they’re not even broken.

But foremost, it’s about creating the future and meeting the ongoing demands of managers and employees and evolving the recognition experience.

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Get Solid Data Fluency for Strong Recognition Programs

Not sure how you did with learning a foreign language at high school, if you needed to do that. When I was trying to learn French growing up in England, it was a matter of rote grammar drills, writing out the different verb tenses, and very little conversational practice.

I cannot speak French today so can never claim to be fluent.

I also spent two years in my early twenties living in Belgium and gained some Flemish language skills. However, upon returning to Canada and many years absent with speaking Flemish, I have found out that if you don’t use a language, you lose it.

That’s why being fluent with the data gleaned from your recognition programs is such a necessary skill for you as a recognition manager or program administrator. If you don’t use it you’ll lose it.

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How Do You Know What and When To Reward

One of the questions I am often asked when it comes to rewards is what to reward people with as well as when are you supposed to give those rewards.

It’s important to remember that rewards can be tangible, monetary, or experiential in nature. This opens the door to all kinds of creative options and ideas for what to give to people or give them access to choose.

And broadly you give rewards to individuals or teams whenever they reach pre-set goals, a significant achievement, or a special service was performed.

Now let’s dig a little deeper so you can better understand these elements.

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Top 10 Ways to Select the Right Incentive or Recognition Award

Choosing the right awards for your various incentive and recognition programs is never an easy task. You want to show employees that their contributions are valued and appreciated. Awards should match your program’s goals and celebrate employee achievements. Today’s employees want more than the traditional award items. So here are the Top 10 Ways to Select the Right Incentive or Recognition Award to help you.

1. Clearly spell out your program purpose. Is this award for a sales campaign? Are you wanting to get people enlisted in your health and wellness platform? Or is this a prestigious award for the president’s excellence program? Awards must always fit the program purpose and performance level.

2. Have employees involved and ask them. Use an employee survey to get the big picture view of employee input. Ask them to prioritize on criteria such as the meaningfulness and perception of various award options. Draw upon focus groups too so you can dig deeper. Solicit the why behind each employee idea.

3. Focus on the meaningfulness factor. Employees are very clear on whether an award item is meaningful or not.  Always add onto the award presentation. For example, who’s presenting the award? How have you orchestrated the total award celebration experience? What elements can you make even better?

4. Inspire and excite award recipients. Does the incentive or recognition award inspire the recipient to do, and be, better? As you explore award items – whether tangible gifts or symbolic awards – find out how excited employees are to receive them. Evaluate the emotional appeal of the awards you’re thinking about.

5. Provide choice wherever you can. Giving people exciting options to decide from is a great way to create motivation. Whether the awards are lifestyle, health and fitness, electronics, outdoor, or experiential items, charitable donations, or gift cards. Think choice! This factor can be especially critical with incentives.

6. Always use quality, name brand products. It can be a real let down when an award gift breaks or stops functioning shortly after receiving it. Stick with brand name items that are top quality. Ensure your award vendor is reputable and has a great exchange and replacement policy. Your award speaks for you.

7. Put symbolic awards on a pedestal. Trophies and medals must be totally representative of your organization. Look at Olympic medals and the Oscars® for what they mean to recipients. Whatever symbolic awards you design must be an extension of the company and your brand. They will become a treasured prize.

8. Think outside of the box for novel ideas. No need to stay with the tried and true award selections. Dabble in creativity such as a customized portrait painting from a family photo of a recipient. Provide an opportunity to learn something new from an expert that the employee has mentioned such as painting or in music.

9. Move from tangible to experiential. Corporate volunteer trips to destinations around the world appeal to younger generation employees. They can build schools or set up wells with water access. This is a fully immersive cultural and teambuilding experience that leaves a legacy associated with your company.

10. Choose your own adventure. Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman made famous the idea of doing things before you “kick the bucket”. Have employees choose experiences that bring joy. It could be skydiving, an amazing destination experience like whale watching in Patagonia, or cooking with a chef in Paris.

As previously published by the author in Incentive Magazine.