How to Increase the Impact of Your Formal Award Programs

What impact are your formal recognition programs having on your people and their performance? Are you designing your best-of-the-best and above-and-beyond award programs to make a difference?

According to the World at Work 2017 Trends in Employee Recognition Survey, 77% of organizations have above-and-beyond performance programs, and only 17% of them have what they termed as formal programs. They did not delineate or define well what they meant by formal recognition.

The Conference Board of Canada in their 2017 report on recognition found that 50% of corporations have formal company-wide recognition programs in place. Organizations that have these programs recognize outstanding individual achievement as their main purpose and organize large-scale celebration events to accompany these awards.

But neither study pursued whether these formal award programs had achieved their objectives or if they considered the award programs effective or not.

Look at the following seven ideas for building greater impact into your existing formal award programs.

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Disruption of Recognition Programs by Your Leaders

Allen Saunders, an American writer and journalist first coined the line “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,” back in a 1957 Reader’s Digest article.

Sometimes this happens to you and I who work in the recognition space. Things will happen at work by people that negatively disrupts the good you are busy planning with your recognition programs and initiatives.

And nothing is worse than when it is a leader who is the disruptor of your recognition programs and plans.

Consider these tactics for handling the inevitable negative, disruptive leader.

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How Oscar Awards Nominations Are Selected

It’s Oscar Awards season.

They have submitted a full list of nominees, along with best picture nominees by over 6,000 voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

They sent in those nominations during the month of December. Members made their selection for which movie and which artists they felt merit being this year’s Oscar winners.

Each voting member belongs to just one of the seventeen branches of the Academy such as actors, casting directors, costumer designers, producers, and many others involved in the magic of the movies.

But who judges the nominations? How are Oscar Awards nominations evaluated?

I will open the curtain on the process for you right now so you’ll be ready for the Academy Awards night. You’ll know when the presenter reads the envelope, announcing, “And the winner is…” exactly what it took to get to that special moment. (more…)

How To Increase Meaningfulness Through Your Recognition Programs

Academic research has shown that managers are a contributing a factor to your employee’s perception of experiencing meaningfulness at work.

Researchers Francesco Montani and Jean-SébastienBoudrias reported that when managers take their role seriously, and serve and act as representatives of the organizations they work for, they provide them with salient social cues to their employees. These cues give employees a sense of meaningfulness in their own job. A manager’s act of genuinely recognizing their employees contributes to employee meaningfulness with their work.

So how can you use your recognition programs to create this greater job meaningfulness for employees? (more…)

How To Get Employees to Use Your Recognition Programs

You have a great recognition platform set up with various peer-to-peer and manager driven recognition programs. The launch and kick-off you designed and started was perfect. What happened next? Crickets.

Hardly anyone was using your recognition programs.

What can you do, or what should you have done to begin with, to ensure greater participation by employees in using your recognition programs? (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. (more…)

How to Recognize Offline Employees When You Have Recognition Programs

You are grateful that your company has these great, online recognition programs, to send important and worthy messages of recognition to people.

Now you can send branded eCards to one another when someone is seen living your corporate values or achieving a strategic priority. You can even send messages of appreciation and recognition via a social newsfeed on your social recognition program. Peers can like these comments about their colleagues and add their own words of commendation and praise. And, your managers, can nominate employees for an award or actually reward them with points for going above and beyond.

That is, as long as employees have an email address, a computer or an electronic device, and can receive notifications from any of the above vehicles of recognition.

But, if many of your employees are offline and have no company email address, and also no electronic device on the job, how do you get frontline supervisors and managers to embrace online recognition programs? (more…)

Top 10 Ways to Select the Right Incentive or Recognition Award

Make sure the awards you give excite recipients and represent your company well.

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. Check out the Top 10 Ways to Select the Right Incentive or Recognition Award to help you decide.

1. Clearly spell out your program’s 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 desired performance level.

2. Have employees involved and ask them. Use an employee survey to get the big picture view and 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 on to 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 a lifestyle item, 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 award the 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.

 

A version of this post first appeared in Incentive Magazine.

How Good Is Your Recognition Program Anyway?

Lots of companies think their recognition programs are the very best. Many that I have seen are truly pretty amazing and exemplary. A few think of themselves a little better than they really are. But at least they’re trying.

Since judging the best practices nominations submitted to Recognition Professionals International for the past 11-years, I have seen the overview of nearly a hundred or so recognition programs. Based on the criteria that I had a hand in developing, the other judges and I score each nomination, and also provide helpful, written feedback on their programs.

Often, those who submit their nomination the first time receive a best in class award covering a few of the seven best practice standards. They usually act on the judges’ feedback and resubmit the following year. If companies carry out the recommendations that judges suggested they typically raise the bar and can merit earning the best practices overall award.

How good do you think your recognition programs are? If you submitted a best practices award nomination for your company, would you measure up?

Take a look at RPI’s seven best practice standards below and assess where you think you would stack up on a seven or 10 point scale. (more…)

Handle Negativity About Recognition Problems as a Gift

Getting complaints about your recognition programs, or having to listen to the naysayers in the room about employee recognition practices, can be a draining and daunting experience to deal with.

One big secret for dealing with negativity around recognition initiatives is to treat each encounter as a gift. I’ll share with you what I mean by this, shortly.

If you can learn how to handle negative feedback about recognition practices and programs in a positive and productive way, you’ll be ready for anything that comes your way. (more…)