Let Your Recognition Programs Tell You Everything You Need to Know

Online recognition programs are websites acting as a central platform for a variety of recognition and reward programs. They allow everyone in an organization to express their appreciation, say thanks to folks, and give recognition for the great things people do at work every day. 

Those with permission can also give people rewards, whether tangible, monetary, or experiential. You give rewards to people for going above and beyond normal work expectations and when excellent performance occurs. 

What can your recognition programs tell you that you’re not tapping into? 

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How To Help Your Leaders Stay on Top of Recognition

Hopefully, you have a supportive executive leader who acts as your sponsor or champion for the cause of employee recognition where you work. You never want recognition to become out of sight and then out of their mind.

The only reason recognition would ever disappear off of your leader’s radar screen is if you take it off yourself.

That’s why it is so important to help your leaders stay on top of everything that’s going on with employee recognition.

Here are some great ways to keep recognition top of mind for your leaders.

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Should Recognition Focus on Your People or the Business?

Managers of organizational recognition practices and recognition programs are often torn between focusing on growth of people or on business results.

You’ll find some organizations create elaborate people strategies to prepare for the growth and development of their employees. Talent management strategies prepare now for the future. And recognition is always a part of the equation, especially when measuring employee engagement.

Then there are others who are strictly business. Their goal is to align recognition and rewards with helping to drive and achieve the strategic initiatives of their business goals.

So, the question is whether, as the owner of recognition in your organization, should you focus on people of the business?

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Where Do You Most Need to Improve Your Recognition?

Whether approaching the end of a calendar year or a time to consider a refresh of your recognition practices and programs, it is important to ask yourself as the recognition owner in your organization, “Where do we most need to improve recognition?”

Often this whole question of improvement follows the review of your annual employee engagement survey. Right off the bat I can tell you that if the average score of your recognition related questions on your survey is less than 65 percent, then you are dealing with issues with your daily recognition practices of everyday recognition.

Looking at everyday recognition, you know this should happen on a daily or weekly basis and impact between 80 and 100 percent of your employees. This is a great opportunity to work on. 

Where else can you improve recognition at your organization? What are some practical steps you can take?

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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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What Should You Do If Your Recognition Education Fails?

Most corporate training and education programs work very well. But now and then you get an educational program, whether in-class, online, blended, or via one of the many learning delivery methods, that ends up being a failure.

If you were following the Kirkpatrick Model and the levels of training evaluation, you might do a Level 3 evaluation to examine participant’s behaviors after the training. You want to find out the degree participants are now actively applying what they learned in the training sessions back on the job. 

You conduct a survey to find out what learning participants are doing or not doing with giving employee recognition. Now you find out that a majority of the learners are not doing much with the skills and principles they were taught.

What can you do to correct this problem? How would you handle the fact that your recognition education failed?

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Top 10 Ways to Measure the ROI of Incentive Programs

We need greater accountability for the success of our incentive programs. Planning to calculate the ROI of incentive programs from the start will help us focus on results. Following the Top 10 Ways to Measure the ROI of Incentive Programs will be a handy checklist to ensure the success and ROI of your incentive programs.

1. Identify the problem you want incentivized. Assess the current performance problem to determine the needs, conduct a gap analysis, and look for potential improvements you think could be incentivized. Too many accidents, not enough sales, losing too many people, or not reaching performance targets.

2. What are the costs of the problem? Analyze the direct and indirect costs currently associated with the identified performance problem or need. Like: What are salary and operational costs for a retail store? What are turnover costs? What is the number of lost-time days due to accidents? 

3. Determine the achievable objectives. Propose one or two key measurable objectives to be targeted by incentives. Example: percentage of reduced voluntary turnover; increased quarterly productivity indicators at retail stores; percentage of sales performance numbers; or, reduced number of annual accidents per year.

4. Figure out the best measures to use. Identify the specific behavioral measures you will use to determine the right program success measures. When you define the performance well enough you will know the behaviors you want more or less of. You’ll then know if the behaviors occur or not and how to measure them.

5. Calculate the costs of incentives. Project the overall costs associated with conducting an incentive plan to improve the performance problem. Determine the value of incentives, the frequency or number of behaviors required for an incentive, the time period of the incentive plan, and multiply to determine total costs.

6. Keep tabs on budget spend. Monitor the costs associated with producing the improved performance results along with implementing the incentive plan. ROI is about return on investment of monies spent, which includes administration costs, monitoring, data collecting, and analysis.

7. Gather the data you need. Collect baseline data of target performance results from the period before the incentive plan began as well as during the implementation period (e.g. year before versus current year). Do as much as you can before the incentive plan so you can deal more with data following implementation.

8. Create a before and after analysis. Analyze and calculate the costs of the targeted performance problem before and after the incentive plan. Here you monetizing as much of the data as you can. Make friends with the folks in finance to help you put a dollar figure on as many data points as is possible.

9. Consider reasons for the success, or not. Give a general interpretation of the results observed of performance outcomes achieved while using incentives. This is putting the human observation and deductive reasoning as to whether things worked or not. Your hypothesis can then be validated by the data collected.

10. Work out the ROI. Calculate the actual return on investment. The math is easy: It’s the estimated dollar amount of the impact made by the incentive plan minus the combination of the annual incentive payout costs plus administration costs, then divide the previous total by the impact dollar amount, and finally multiplied by 100. Previously published in Incentive Magazine

Previously published in Incentive Magazine

Can’t You See The Need for Investing in Recognition?

You’ve got your recognition strategy and plan written up and ready. The budget is prepared and your finance people have reviewed it. Primary stakeholders were consulted on their specific needs. Any relevant concerns have been addressed. You have the support of most of your leaders.

You present everything to your file leader. Zapp!

No go! Not approved!!

He or she doesn’t see the value of spending money on employee recognition. They view recognition as an expense along with compensation and benefits. There’s no urgency in their mind to invest in recognition.

Those of you responsible for employee recognition will likely have to deal with such a leader at some point in time. They just don’t “get it” as far as recognition is concerned. Yet, you know that wise leaders always invest in growing and developing people.

What can you do to prepare yourself for such a leader? How do you anticipate any potential rejection points towards recognition initiatives? (more…)

Top 10 Powerful Ways to Save Your Recognition Budget

 

When talking about recognition and rewards programs the word “budget” is sure to come up. There are few owners of corporate recognition programs who have not dealt with one cut or another over their lifetime. This month I asked 10 seasoned practitioners responsible for recognition programs for their budgeting advice. Their wisdom gives you the Top 10 Powerful Ways to Save Your Recognition Budget.

  1. Get strategic with your recognition budgets. Look at the different types of recognition programs and initiatives available to you and budget where you will gain the greatest business impact and positive response from people. Align recognition to achieve strategic initiatives and let the culture drive recognition.
  2. Measure recognition program effectiveness. Consistently measure both program usage metrics as well as employee perception of recognition effectiveness to learn which employees and where are being impacted the most. Move beyond just reports to actually analyzing the data and correlating with your KPI’s.
  3. Create a sustainable program budget. It is critical to create the business case for your recognition program budget that is sustainable year over year by your senior leaders. With a sustainable budget you can more likely add to it to than becoming the recurring target for being cut whenever financial problems arise.
  4. Build in internal and external accountability. Assign recognition and rewards budgets to each departmental leader and use the program data to hold them accountable. Hold external providers accountable by checking regularly on program usage and spend to reduce costs where programs are not having an impact.
  5. Do a reality check on program equality and accessibility. Correct expectations and educate leaders when not all employees are getting the same benefit of recognition as others do. Programs need to be accessible to all parties even if the criterion needs to be established differently for the various business units.
  6. Research everything and do your homework. Keep up with the latest research findings from professional associations, conference boards, academic institutions and consultants. Mesh their data with results you are getting from your programs. Do interviews and focus groups to collect internal data and compare findings.
  7. Prioritize and shake things up. Money has an amazing way of adjusting your priorities. Nice to have must take second place to need to have when budgets are tight. If stuck too much to the tried and true, a revised recognition strategy may dictate a shake up to achieve more meaningful business and people goals. 
  8. Demonstrate program impact and ROI. Leaders always want to know the results they get from the money they have invested. All recognition programs must demonstrate some form of business impact and where feasible a calculated Return on Investment. Sometimes the benefit is relational and keeping good people happy.
  9. Be transparent with everyone across the company. When recognition budgets are targeted for cuts it is every leader’s problem not just HR. Tell leaders the needs and brainstorm ideas. Gain everyone’s support for keeping recognition and doing it differently. Don’t work in isolation and be open to employee input as well.
  10. Collaborate inside and outside the organization. Ask your fellow leaders across the organizations for ways to save money and use internal resources for typically outsourced work. Shorten length of conferences or award events. Use less expensive award items. Be candid with your vendors and get their input too.

 

Previously published in Incentive Magazine, January 2016

How To Present Recognition’s Progress To Your Leadership Team

You are fortunate enough to have an executive sponsor for employee recognition and who supports all the managing of recognition related things that you do.

They are willing to go to bat for you and are exemplary in using the company recognition programs and expressing appreciation to employees.

Their expectation of you is to regularly provide them with high level results on how recognition is impacting the business.

After all, your executive has to present the numbers to the complete senior leadership team and collectively they approve your budget.

So what is the best way to present the progress and impact employee recognition is making to your senior leadership team?

At a bare minimum they will be expecting the following: (more…)