If there is one thing that I have learned from over 25-years in the recognition field, it’s that people define the same terms completely differently. For some people, they say recognition and they really mean rewards, and it’s difficult to shift their mindset. Then there are others who think that rewards are the only form of recognition they need.
That’s why I always strive to level-set the playing field by educating everyone on the working definitions of terms like recognition and rewards. My recommendation is for you to do exactly the same thing where you work. Teach everyone the definitions that resonate for you and your organization.
If there is one thing anyone managing recognition programs wants the most, it is to have everyone using the online recognition programs they have in place. And yet, it seems most organizations think that as soon as you flip the switch on for recognition programs, they will automatically get used.
Unfortunately, that is never the case.
Look at the following factors and see if there is one or two that might need a tuneup. Once you have these in place, I guarantee you will have stronger and more consistent recognition program participation levels.
I have judged nominations submitted to Recognition Professionals International (RPI) to merit their Best Practices Awards for the last 15 years. When you get to see what organizations are doing to comply with RPI’s seven best practice standards, you learn a great deal.
One thing I have observed of late is that leaders are getting more involved with their organization’s recognition strategies. They are recommending various forms of recognition program frameworks, or models, to ensure their recognition programs are successful.
Let me explain what a recognition program framework could look like.
One challenge many recognition program owners share in common is helping employees to redeem their points or level-based rewards. Here’s a list of practical ideas for you to try out. Use them to encourage staff and leaders alike to get the full value of the rewards they once-upon-a-time received.
1. Have you asked your employees? Find out from staff why they aren’t redeeming. It may surprise you to learn from their responses. It’s one thing to nominate someone else. But maybe they don’t know how to select something and redeem points they have received.
2. Make sure you are setting clear expectations. Lay out the guidelines for your online recognition and reward programs. Invite people to either redeem rewards right away or to bank their rewards for higher valued items. Identify in your system which option people are choosing to do.
3. Enlist the aid of your senior leaders. Capture a video endorsement of your recognition and reward programs from a senior leader. Have them share their admiration for the great work employees are doing. They can issue a call to action to redeem and use their points.
4. Ensure you have a wide range of preferred items to choose from. They always claim rewards much quicker when they have more to choices to choose from. Giving your staff lots to choose from really helps. Make sure they know what’s available, new options, and send information out regularly.
5. Teach leaders on program usage and redemption. The success of any online recognition and reward program starts at the top. Show your leaders how to give recognition and nominate rewards. Orient them to the rewards catalog and instruct them so they can help staff know how to redeem their rewards.
6. Find out if people know how to redeem their rewards. Ask staff about redeeming rewards from the program. Do they know how to do so? Create video tutorials for independent viewing and use staff meeting opportunities for hands on redemption of points or rewards from the online system.
7. Advertise all the options available to redeem for. Use all the internal communication channels to promote and advertise the various rewards available. Let staff see on LCD screens and on the corporate intranet site when discounted items are available. Use posters and tent cards in the cafeteria and electronic newsletters for virtual staff.
8. Constantly communicate to make staff aware. It is easy to forget when someone has given you a reward over and above the recognition received. Arrange a notification system to give staff a view of their reward balance. Invite employees to redeem their rewards for things that are meaningful to them.
9. Continually measure redemption levels after each intervention. Apply different methods to invite and encourage point redemption and measure the results afterward. You might also consider running an A/B test or conducting split testing by random experimentation of two or more versions of a variable.
10. Work with your department or your vendor’s merchandising group. Review your catalog of rewards regularly. Compare existing popular categories of items. Solicit suggestions from staff each year. Take extra care when refreshing your catalog. Ensure you’re giving everyone access to the best rewards.
Recognition Reflection: What are doing to encourage better reward redemptions by employees?
There is one thing I came into the recognition field to do. That task was to ban saying “good job” as an act of feedback or recognition expression.
Yet they have brainwashed many of us since childhood from home and school, and then into the workplace, to both hear and use those two words.
I am going to explain to you exactly why you must eradicate ever saying the words “good job.” Then I will give a simple way to replace those words. You will feel more confident about being able to give meaningful recognition. And you’ll be perceived as a more genuine recognizer.
Recognition Professionals International’s first Best Practice Standard for recognition programs is having a Recognition Strategy.
Does your organization have a written recognition strategy? If you do, what is your intention of having a recognition strategy?
I want to address what the strategic intent is behind your recognition strategy. And if you don’t have a recognition strategy yet, I will clue you in how important it is to know your strategic intentions. Strategic intent is both philosophical and outlines the purpose of recognition.
The best way to learn how to give amazing recognition to people that always hits the mark is to have someone show you how to do it. But it is a lot more than being shown what to do. Be an attentive observer of the intricacies that go into meaningful and effective recognition.
Observe people and look for the emotional imagery they manifest in recognizing colleagues. Describe what you think recipients are feeling based on their reactions to being recognized. At different times, you can stop and ask people how they felt about the recognition received.
You gain a lot when you have an executive sponsor for employee recognition.
An executive or leadership sponsor is a leader who actively advocates for the organization’s recognition strategy and for the recognition programs that you manage. Having a C-level sponsor is considered a key requirement for success.
Employees want to receive recognition that is memorable and makes them feel good at the same time. Follow these simple strategies and learn how to give memorable recognition to the surrounding people you work with.
1. Start by sharing your gratitude with people. It is important to be optimistic and complimentary of the positive acts and performance you observe around you.
2. Learn to personalize your recognition. Connect with each individual you’re recognizing and energize them with your recognition message uniquely for them.
3. Ensure you give recognition in a timely manner. Work hard at recognizing people as soon as possible after you see their positive actions or they are reported to you.
4. Express your recognition through storytelling. No need to make it too short and sweet when you can tell the story of someone’s accomplishments and how they did it.
5. Focus on making your recognition more positive. Be very specific and selective with your word choice to ensure positive vocabulary and the use of positive vocal inflection.
6. Prepare by questioning your recognition intention. Remember, recognition is always about the recipient and should never be a manipulative technique by the giver.
7. Gauge how effective your recognition is. Pay attention to how well your recognition communication was received and generated a positive reaction.
8. Check out if people felt the recognition given them. Recognition moments are always a felt experience that reinforces and appreciates people.
9. Share the impact people’s actions make. Everyone loves to know how their positive actions and work made a difference to others. So, tell them!
10. Boost people’s pride in themselves and their work. Let people know you appreciate them for who they are and everything they bring to the workplace.