How To Improve Your Recognition Programs

Ben Feldman was a successful insurance salesperson back in the 1940s. When asked how he achieved his repeated multimillion-dollar sales year after year, he said, “If you’ve got a problem, make it a procedure and it won’t be a problem anymore.”

It is the same with improving your recognition programs. You first have to put some procedures in place, then you won’t have any more problems with your recognition and reward programs. 

The key to consistently improving your recognition programs is to follow a quality improvement process, like the following. 

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How to Make Your Recognition Programs Last

Push button. Launch. Blast off!!

Your recognition program has just gone live. But for how long will it last?

How do you make recognition programs last? Making recognition and reward programs last over the long term requires an open-mindedness to the ongoing transformation of your programs.

It’s about looking for ongoing change and constant quality improvement. Maybe breaking things even when they’re not even broken.

But foremost, it’s about creating the future and meeting the ongoing demands of managers and employees and evolving the recognition experience.

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Improving the Quality of Your Formal Award Programs

Most organizations have a formal award programs that are their pinnacle of excellence for all their employees to aspire to.

You might have these kinds of formal programs where you work, too. They’re often called by a prestigious leadership position the company wants to associate with the award. You’ll hear awards named the President’s Award, Chairman’s or CEO’s Award. Or they may go for a more branded name appeal such as Bravo Award, Excellence Award, or Pinnacle Award. 

Both position title or brand named awards, are usually appended with various award categories the company wants people to focus on. They attach qualities or values like Leadership, Innovation, Customer Service, or Citizenship, etc. to the award name.

But for all the time, effort, and energy put into these formal award programs you are likely only awarding around 1% to 2% of your employee base. In larger organizations this percentage is even less.

What can you do to elevate the quality of your existing formal award programs?

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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 To Make An Effective Formal Awards Program

I was recently in a meeting with an organization who wanted to design a formal awards program and I think they were surprised with the additional insights I brought to the table that they hadn’t considered before.

I will outline a few of the critical elements needed for creating an effective formal awards program. These areas will be covered under five broad steps that entail quite a bit of work for each one.

Each of these steps will help you whether a manually administered awards program or one simplified through technology. (more…)

How To Say Thank You Like You Really Mean It

Ever receive a compliment from someone, or they say thank you to you, and you start questioning how sincere they really are with what they said?

While you might not be right all the time it seems science has picked up on this intuitive ability we have.

Karyn Fish, from McGill University, and her colleagues, outline in their “The sound of (in)sincerity” research, how we have a pretty good ear for identifying genuine praise and recognition. (more…)