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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How To Define Your Purpose for Rewards in Your Programs

When I assist company leaders in creating a recognition strategy, I take them through defining and crafting a purpose statement and philosophy statement as part of their strategy design.

Essentially, I am asking them to answer the question, why are you doing recognition? 

WorldatWork asked the same question and received the following responses. These are the top seven of the 17 choices people had to select from. 

1.    Create/maintain a culture of recognition

2.    Create/maintain a positive work environment

3.    Reinforce desired behaviors

4.    Increase employee engagement

5.    Support organizational mission/values

6.    Motivate high performance

7.    Increase retention or decrease employee turnover 

You can ask the same “why” question about giving rewards, too. Why are you giving rewards if you are combining them in a recognition and rewards program? Not enough people stop to define their reasons or purpose for giving rewards besides recognition. 

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How To Get Staff To Focus More On Recognition During Tough Times

There are a lot of things the current pandemic has affected with how we use our recognition and reward programs. 

Many organizations affected by the pandemic economically have reduced revenue because of shutting down production, a lack of sales, and the impact on clients affording goods and services. 

The bottom-line outcome is companies cannot always afford to pay for rewards as they normally would.  

People have asked for guidance on how to communicate to their teams the need to prioritize no or low-cost recognition options versus use of rewards in view of the financial reality. They also don’t want to give a negative viewpoint. 

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5 Easy-To-Spot Signs Of Potential Reward Problems

You may have seen it elsewhere or experienced it. Hopefully, you’re not dealing with it right now.

Runaway budget spent on gift cards, merchandise, points, and even cash rewards. Negative attitudes and perceptions of employee recognition. 

Let me give you just five indicators that you might have some potential reward problems lurking in the shadows of your well-intentioned recognition and reward programs.

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Who Is Leading Recognition In Your Organization?

It is an interesting question to ask. Who is the leader in your organization who leads recognition practices and programs?

More often than not, people will point you to Human Resources. Or it could be an offshoot from there such as compensation and benefits. Occasionally, you will find out communications is at the helm, often paired with marketing. And if it involves sales in your industry, you’ll have the sales folks to deal with.

But are they managing or leading recognition?

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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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Beware of the Hidden Biases Around Employee Recognition

When was the last time you reviewed your recognition and reward program data to see if there is any tendency toward hidden biases?

A hidden—or implicit—bias is defined as a preference for, or against, a person, thing, or group, which is held at an unconscious level. This means you and I don’t even know our minds are holding onto this bias. In contrast, an overt—or explicit—bias is an attitude or prejudice which is very much endorsed at a conscious level.

For example, what is the proportion of recognition or reward recipients who are male versus female, with respect to your employee gender ratio? Are rewards given more often to one gender over another? Is there any general ratio between white and non-white employees? Do disabled staff equally merit and receive recognition and rewards for exemplary work?

Perhaps we all need to ask these kinds of question when identifying whether hidden biases exist in our recognition and reward practices and programs.

If there are certain principles that keep recognition and rewards open it is fairness and equity.

How well is your organization doing in this area?

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Let Me Explain Recognition and Rewards One More Time

What do you do when you want to recognize people? What’s the right reward for employees when you feel they need one?

Recognition, as I have shared before, is mostly an intangible expression of acknowledgment and valuing of a person’s positive behaviors, personal effort, and the great contributions they have made. Recognition is your personal communication and feedback stating how you admire and appreciate someone for what they are doing. Recognition is a gift, not a right.

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Embedding Recognition in the Everyday Life of the Company – Part 2

In a previous post I covered Part 1 of Embedding Recognition in the Everyday Life of the Company. There we looked at how you can integrate recognition practices and philosophy at the very beginning of an employee’s career by putting recognition into your onboarding strategy and practices.

For this post, I will address some additional ways you can embed recognition into some typical work structures and practices that go on in most organizations.

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How Do You Know What and When To Reward

One of the questions I am often asked when it comes to rewards is what to reward people with as well as when are you supposed to give those rewards.

It’s important to remember that rewards can be tangible, monetary, or experiential in nature. This opens the door to all kinds of creative options and ideas for what to give to people or give them access to choose.

And broadly you give rewards to individuals or teams whenever they reach pre-set goals, a significant achievement, or a special service was performed.

Now let’s dig a little deeper so you can better understand these elements.

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