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?

Prioritizing Recognition Delivery

Let’s all remember that the most valued and appreciated form for recognition is that which is delivered in person to the intended recipient.

I have written before how the various vehicles used to deliver recognition – whether face-to-face or online – have different perceived levels of value placed upon them. You can read about this internal evaluation that we do as human beings here.

See: Give The Best Recognition With These P.R.I.M.E. Factors

The bottom line is that recognition practices, the frequent personal, and habitual behaviors people do to express appreciation to others, as well as the cultural and customary ways an organization has of showing people that they and their contributions are valued – all come first and before any recognition programs.

It is important to prioritize recognition practices in your overall recognition strategy ahead of pushing the use of recognition programs.

Read: Why You Should Strategize Your Recognition Practices First!

If you don’t hold frontline supervisors, team leads, and managers accountable for recognizing employees in person, you can never expect them to use recognition programs for employees, who do have online accessibility.

One thing to assist supervisors and managers with offline employees is to give them alternate tools. Provide printed note cards, or cards designed to be associated with your corporate values and strategic goals, similar to the eCards you have online. Keep a record of how many are ordered and by whom so you have a broad indicator of usage. Give them a budget amount per employee for recognition purposes. They can choose to use these funds to recognize and reward individual employees or to use towards a celebration for everyone.

Teach supervisors and managers how to effectively give meaningful and authentic recognition to employees. Make education and training of recognition a part of supervisory and management training. Show them that it does not take very much time to express appreciation to people. Let them know the impact their actions have on their employees – send statistical information along with the company engagement survey results. Provide guides and job aids to give them quick tips for recognizing people better.

Recognition Programs Are Only A Tool

 I have always said that recognition programs should be seen as a tool to help managers and employees practice recognition giving.

Recognition programs should never be viewed as the be all end all of recognition activities. Programs should be used to supplement and reinforce recognizing people face-to-face or through other means of personal interaction – such as by phone or video-conferencing.

Recognition programs are the regular informal or formal, organizational procedures and online administered programs for providing scheduled individual, or team, acknowledgment, awards, incentives or rewards, for achieving various strategic, behavioral or performance-based criteria.

You have programs that are centrally administered by the company like career milestone awards and your best-of-the-best, excellence awards.

However, the most effective programs are accessed and used by managers and employees. Some have rewards associated with them such as performance-based recognition programs. More popular programs these days are peer-to-peer focused, and allow for online communication of thanks and appreciation. Employees can sometimes be set up to nominate colleagues for awards on your programs.

Three benefits of recognition programs are that they:

  1. Recognize people everywhere. You can express appreciation and send messages of recognition to people anywhere in your company. You can recognize employees through your programs when they are not physically present.  You can recognize remote employees or employees from other locations, so you’re not restricted to close proximity of where you work.
  2. Make recognition visible. For those who give permission and find public acknowledgment acceptable, recognition programs make the communicated recognition visible to more people in the organization. This makes recognition a positive and open experience to be shared by everyone and encourages others to recognize each other and celebrate achievements.
  3. Provide important data. Online recognition programs provide a rich source of data beyond program usage. You can track accountability for using the program; who is, and is not, being recognized; and the reason or purpose for the recognition. You can also obtain pretty advanced analytics from your programs too. You can identify predictive indicators, correlate recognition data with key performance results, and prescribe necessary interventions.

These advantages of recognition programs should be explained to your supervisors and managers so that they know why, and how, your recognition programs are a great asset.

Offline Recognition Integration with Recognition Programs

There are ways of integrating some offline delivered recognition and rewards into an online recognition program.

Employees who work out in the field, such as telephone line installers, or in manufacturing environments like welders, or job roles that don’t permit accessibility to technology, like healthcare practitioners, could receive on the spot recognition and reward cards.

Recognition and reward cards could be thematically branded to depict each of your values and strategic goals. Supervisors and managers can give these cards to deserving employees when they observe them demonstrating a value or achieving a strategic goal. Each card can have a different currency value associated with them based on the degree of performance, and have a non-monetary indicator – such as a points-based reward (100 points = $10.00, 200 points =  $20.00, etc.) or a level based award, like bronze, silver, or gold, with each level having an incrementally higher monetary or points-based currency value.

Employees can then go to an office computer or call into an interactive voice recognition telephone line, enter in the traceable number or scan a barcode on their reward card, and either bank the reward amount or redeem it for selected merchandise, gift cards, or other items.

Submissions, redemptions, names, and the identified card purpose (values or strategic goal) for the recognition, can be recorded in a dashboard or some form of display, albeit not with any personalized recognition messaging.

This fulfills the benefits identified earlier of being able to:

  • recognize people everywhere,
  • make recognition visible, and
  • provide important data.

Handwritten service feedback or recognition cards can be submitted by customers at restaurants or in retail stores. These will have to be manually posted online and shared in printed newsletters that are distributed to all employees – whether they have digital accessibility or not.

Prepare for the Future

You should see more employees in the future bringing their own smartphones and electronic devices to work.

Human resources departments are developing progressive policies to allow such devices into the workplace. Or maybe companies will be required to provide some kind of device to all employees for better employee communications, accessibility of benefits, policies, and other services, like recognition and reward programs.

Focus on implementing recognition practices first. Then when the programs are right and accessible to the majority, they will be a welcome addition.

Recognition Reflection: What reasons do your frontline supervisors and managers give for not using company recognition programs?

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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