How To Overcome Typical Barriers to Recognition Programs

It seems there are common problems that crop up when integrating employee recognition programs into an organization.

These problems create barriers to the success of the goals the organization hopes to achieve through strategically using recognition programs. Fortunately, the troubles recognition programs can sometimes present with are easily treated and resolved. 

Look at the following scenarios and examine how you would tackle each one.

Typical Barriers to Recognition Programs 

Some problems that recognition programs run into look like some scenarios below. Always articulate your problem clearly enough such that an unfamiliar person to the recognition program could easily understand the situation. 

Here are some typical situations program owners might run into:

1. Poor participation levels and low usage of a social recognition program.

2. Low redemption rates by recipients of service awards in selecting and ordering their milestone award gift. 

3. Below average engagement scores on recognition related questions even after developing a new President’s Excellence award program. 

Formulating Alternative Solutions 

Every organization is unique, and the same goes for identifying the solutions to the various recognition program problems. The key is getting input and ideas from different people from various backgrounds and experiences. Brainstorm together and generate as many creative solutions as possible. 

For the scenarios listed above, I have generated a few ideas for each problem.

1. Increase social recognition program participation levels.

  1. Create a communication campaign to increase awareness, list the benefits of the program, and then set clear expectations for using the program.
  2. Generate better measurement reports with drill-down capabilities to know which managers are using the programs or not, in order to hold mangers more accountable for participation.
  3. Request senior leader involvement in both communicating the expectations and setting a positive example in using the program. 

2. Selecting milestone award gifts in a timely manner.

  1. Ensure the online catalogue is available to all employee work groups through the intranet or through kiosks at different locations.
  2. Holding management accountable for honoring and celebrating award recipients and presenting the awards meaningfully as soon as the gift arrives.
  3. Having employees involved with the provider in developing a robust catalogue selection of gift awards that is more meaningful to staff. 

3. Improving recognition scores on the employee engagement survey.

  1. Evaluate what the organization is currently doing across everyday, informal, and formal recognition practices and programs.
  2. Gain employee input through surveys and focus groups to answer why they do not feel valued and appreciated in the organization.
  3. Review communication plans and the learning and development plans to see what education and training exists to show all levels of employees how to give meaningful and effective recognition to people.

Evaluating and Selecting a Solution.

It’s good to have a process in place to evaluate the alternative solutions and how you will formally select the best solution. Sometimes this requires the use of a decision matrix pitting each option against one another to prioritize the top solution. Which solution is the least disruptive? Does one idea fit better with our organizational culture than another?

You might also consider,

  • Conducting an employee survey to gain their feedback on proposed solutions using quantitative and qualitative input measures to help decide.
  • Presenting proposed ideas to a sample number of employees in focus groups and ask for their pros and cons of the suggestions.
  • Having your leaders and managers rank order each solution against a pre-determined list of criteria.

Implementing the Selected Solution

There will always be barriers and problems that occur with any online software solution, like a recognition and reward program. Getting to the root of the problem and coming up with a practical solution should be your focus. 

Involve as many people as possible in implementing the selected solution and gain as much support with the needed changes. Provide monitoring, measurement of any additional steps and procedures, and ongoing feedback mechanisms for ensuring a successful implementation and ongoing quality improvement.

  • Where possible, assign a project manager to assist with the implementation plan for the selected solution or else at least create some realistic timelines.
  • Create a 90-day action plan with 30-day follow up with email reporting and then a 90-day review meeting with a written one-page report with a written summary of progress to-date.
  • Have accountability meetings with your leader report back on the success of the solution in resolving the recognition program problem or barrier.

Always address any barrier or problem with your recognition and reward programs right away and never let them fester too long. The quicker you address the identified problem, the sooner your solution can generate positive benefits and outcomes that your recognition and reward programs can provide. 

Reflective Question: How do you typically address barriers and problems of recognition programs in your organization?

Roy is no longer writing new content for this site (he has retired!), but you can subscribe to Engage2Excel’s blog as Engage2Excel will be taking Roy’s place writing about similar topics on employee recognition and retention, leadership and strategy.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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