Top 10 Ways to Improve Employee Redemption of Rewards Received

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?

Why It Is Okay To Have Manager Approvals for Rewards

You and I know that recognition and reward programs have to be designed with the right business rules to make their use fair and equitable.

This is especially the case where performance-based recognition and reward programs exist. Such programs have their own rules for who is eligible to give and receive rewards. 

Reward programs where peers nominate someone to receive a reward may even require that a manager approve of whether the desired recipient should receive the reward. 

And yet there are some organizations who say they don’t want a manager’s approval at all. This takes too much time to approve a reward nomination. How will it look to employees? 

However, I am here to tell you it is okay to have managers approve reward nominations. 

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Principles of Learning That Will Help People Retain Recognition Skills

Giving meaningful recognition is all about learning the science behind recognition and mastering the art of practicing this important soft skill. 

A soft skill includes all the attributes and personality traits that help employees positively interact with others and achieve success at work. Recognition is just one of those soft skills to develop. 

What learning principles will help enhance retention of the skills needed to give effective recognition to employees? Let’s take a look at some of them.

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How To Make Your Recognition More Visible in the Hybrid Workplace

We live in a new work world that is more divided than ever before.

Some of us work in the office, on the plant floor, or out in the field. And then there are others who remain or alternate with, working from home. 

When was the last time you saw or heard a colleague being recognized? Is recognition front a centre in your organization? Are celebrations visible or hidden from view? 

Take stock and see if you can better accommodate the needs of employees in a hybrid workforce. Learn to make recognition more visible to everyone. 

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A Dozen Ways To Educate People on Using Your Recognition Programs

Teaching people how to use your recognition programs takes time and effort. And the education opportunities are best if you repeat them in different ways at various times.

Try to set up the following ways to educate managers and employees on using your recognition programs. 

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What Is The Recommended Ratio of Recognition to Rewards?

Setting up business rules in the design and program strategy stage for a new recognition program can very interesting. I often get asked what ratio to set up for the usage of their recognition to rewards in their programs. 

My answer is always the same. It all depends. 

The thing is the answer really depends on the industry you are in and the need for using rewards or not, and many other factors. For example, a major Silicon Valley technology company will have a significantly higher ratio of rewards to recognition expectation than would a healthcare organization in Texas. 

Here are a few guidelines to follow that might help you.

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Remember To Tell People When and When Not To Give Rewards

Recognition programs coupled with the use of rewards can challenge managers and employees, especially when you just launch a new program. 

It seems managers and employees alike are like kids in a candy store. With a myriad of good intentions, they lavish out rewards on everyone. And the reasons are often spotty at best.

Which is why you must always handle your rewards with care. 

This matter has come up for a couple of clients in the last few months, so it seemed fitting to bring it up here as well.

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Why Recognition Needs To Be More Strategic Where You Work

One trend I am seeing with different clients over the last two years is the development of written recognition strategies. 

Organizations are leveraging a tighter mandate on recognition, especially when coupled with rewards in their programs. 

I’ve seen programs where lower-level reward amounts, whether point-based or gift cards, are opened up in global recognition and reward programs for employees to reward their peers. This can create problems when the cost of living is low in some countries and employees use the rewards more as a make up for lack of salary increases, rather than rewarding above and beyond actions. And some staff get into a tit-for-tat of “I’ll reward you if you’ll reward me” behaviors when controls or approvals are not present. 

So, why should recognition be more strategic in your organization? 

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Top 10 Ideas for Motivating Employees Working from Home During the Pandemic

Keep the recognition happening for work from home staff.

Managers are dealing with more work from home employees than ever before. And the current COVID-19 pandemic is looking to keep employees working at home for the next foreseeable future. You must recognize and reward your employees better and you must also enhance the total employee experience, even at the home office. Follow these suggestions to make the work-life experience a better one for your staff.

  1. What are they proud of? Chris Littlefield, founder of Beyond Thank You! suggests asking employees what they’re most proud of in the last six months. Listen carefully to what they say, and you will quickly learn what matters most to each employee.
  2. Conduct a litmus test of home offices. Make one of your 1:1 meetings with each staff about working from home. What are they dealing with in working from home? How is the situation with family, children, and school? How can you help them?
  3. Remove barriers. There are constraints in working from home like time issues, technology challenges, or a lack of communication. Take note of each concern and work on operationally and report back on progress with addressing them.
  4. Use your recognition programs frequently. Go onto your online recognition programs daily and send positive messages. Celebrate people’s birthdays and work anniversaries. Acknowledge people for their help and the positive actions you see.
  5. Create employee connection plans. Facilitate discussion in staff meetings on creating better connections. What internal processes must be improved? What is the preference for each employee? Some will be grateful for less connections. Find out.
  6. Email only during office hours. Boundaries relieve employees from feeling compelled to respond to senders’ emails after hours. It allows staff to separate their work and their personal lives better especially since COVID-19 has affected things.
  7. Flexible schedules and boundaries. Sticking to 9-to-5 schedules may no longer be realistic due to childcare/elder-care responsibilities. Be open minded to budgeting of work time while accommodating others’ time zones and time constraints.
  8. Encouraging peak productivity. If staff are not used to working from home their productivity may wane. Invite staff to identify their peak performance hours and prioritize important tasks during these times and make time slots interruption free. 
  9. Virtually socialize. Create the chance for staff to connect and socialize informally while remote. This can be done through scheduled happy hours or at lunch and learns. This is especially helpful when staff cross multiple locations and time zones.
  10. Offer online learning. Career development shouldn’t stop because people work from home. Draw upon industry and professional certification programs. Have Learning & Development advertise existing resources. Offer to cover learning costs.

The Right Balance of Recognition to Reward Programs

One of the many challenges in managing a recognition and rewards program is figuring out how to steer the course of your programs to maximum impact. 

And one repeated concern I see is when program owners inherit a program, they call recognition, but it’s been almost a total rewards program. Getting rid of the rewards mindset that triggers entitlement, expectations, and “more please”, is hard to unlearn. 

Providers, compensation and benefits associations, and non-profit business research organizations give good estimates on how much money to spend. They draw upon a percentage of your payroll budget or the average dollar spent per full-time equivalent (FTE) of employees. 

But what’s missing is how much to spend on the different programs. Is there a perfect balance between recognition specific programs and reward type program? How do you advocate budgets based on how people use the different types of programs? 

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