How to use Gamification to boost your employee referral programme

Chantelle Jones
Head of Operations at Scede.io

Introduction
How is your employee referral programme going? For a large number of companies, it’s a struggle.

However, employee referral programmes can be one of the most powerful weapons an internal recruitment or HR department can have.

Here are some of the benefits that show why an employee referral programme is so great:

46% of referred employees are likely to still be in the business after a year, as opposed to 33% of employees that have come from a career site
Employee referrals have the highest applicant to hire conversion rate – only 7% apply, but this accounts for 40% of all hires
67% of employers and recruiters said the recruiting process was shorter, and 51% said it was less expensive to recruit via referrals
So how are businesses like Deloitte, IBM and Freshbooks rocking their employee referral programme and keeping their employees engaged throughout? Although there are many great benefits to employee referral programmes, you’d be surprised at how many companies get it wrong and do not stick with it.

The answer – Gamification.

Gamification
“The application of typical elements of game playing to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service.”

Getting Started:

Before you do anything, you need to get people on board with the idea. At the end of the day, if your employees aren’t bothered about your employee referral programme then you will get very little results.

Create a step by step guide for all employees. This guide will enable you to explain the rules, the game and processes, prizes, your recruitment process and the type of people you look for.

By clearly highlighting each step, you are allowing each employee to master the system and get really involved.

Perhaps give them some basic social recruitment training so they feel confident in the actions they take.

Give Feedback:

In any part of the recruitment life-cycle, feedback is one of the most important parts of the process. This is no different!

Employees won’t ‘play the game’ if they feel that their referral falls into a black hole, never to be seen again. By constantly giving feedback, you are encouraging further action to be taken by each member of your team.

By implementing a points system, each employee can see exactly what they have done and that their action has been recognized.

To keep everyone engaged and encourage everyone to participate, points should be rewarded based on effort.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Sharing the career site blog, jobs and company culture
Proactively building a network within your industry and competitors
Providing leads on candidates who are looking to move from their present role
Recommending qualified candidates
Candidates who pass interviews
Candidates who are hired

Make it multi-player:

Just like any other game, it’s OK playing on your own, however it’s a lot more fun when you have others joining in too.

Bring out the competitive side of your team and create a leader board that you can share with your entire business.

You could even have a leader board displayed in the office if you are going through major growth.

To ramp up the competition or build on participants (not to mention to expand your network!) you can invite non-employees into your employee referral program. Consider bringing in industry influencers, former employees, business partners and vendors into the game.

They will enjoy being part of something and having the potential to win prizes. Furthermore, you will get a far wider reach of passive candidates.

Make it fun:

Allow more winners.

It’s one of the simplest but yet most powerful pieces of advice I can give for creating a successful employee referral programme.

Think about it. As an employee, you put it in all that effort, the candidate you referred has made it to the last round, and they fall at the last hurdle. What do you get for it?

That’s right, nothing. Not even a pat on the back from your boss. So why bother next time?

There are a lot of things you can do to make your employee referral programme fun for your employees and therefore boost recommendations. I would suggest speaking with your team to find out what they are motivated by.

After all, who knows what they want better than themselves?

In the meantime, here are some ideas to get you started:

Surprise your employees! Don’t be afraid to mix things up a bit. Swap and change the points system, have random raffles for people who have hit a certain points level or even have a power hour where they will get double points for the actions made within a certain time frame
Got a hard to fill role? Offer a special prize for everyone who refers a qualified candidate for that position
Make points redeemable for prizes – this gives your team an element of control (which they will like). You can start off small and inexpensive: scratch cards, vouchers and experience tickets
When people reach a particular status in the leader board they can win a fixed prize. For example, dinner for two when they reach the top 4
Encourage teamwork – have a department or office location competition to create teamwork. You can then give a collective reward to the department that contributes the most qualified candidates

Conclusion
Remember:

Remember: An employee referral programme is not something you launch, it’s something you do. In order for your program to take off, you need to constantly enrol people into the game!

Remember: Your leaders need to get involved too. Like with anything else in the working world, your Hiring Managers need to set a good example – set them monthly goals, or even separate hiring manager competitions to keep them involved.

Remember: Review your leader board often and stay on top everything. People will quickly lose interest if you don’t.

Remember: Constantly acknowledge your staff and give people feedback.

And there you have it, some key advice to help you get your employee referral program working and turning your entire workforce into recruitment superstars!

Before I go:

But before I go, I want to leave you with some ideas of how you can reward your employees. Not every business has the cash reserves for extravagant rewards.

Best reward practices:

Cash rewards
Product awards e.g. Tablets and clothes vouchers
Experience awards e.g. A theatre trip with overnight stay in hotel
Paid vacation or days in lieu
Public recognition

Disruptive New HR Tech That Can Boost Employee Engagement

The modern HR mission has shifted to focus on putting people first and employee engagement has become the yardstick of HR performance. The good news is disruptive HR technologies are redefining HR from recruitment to employee feedback—and finally making strides on boosting engagement.

After years of stagnant employee engagement scores, Gallup recently reported a slight uptick. In the latest 2017 Gallup State of the American Workplace Report,over 33% of the workforce said they felt engaged in 2016. While still low, this reflects a 3% increase from 2012 and the highest engagement number in Gallup’s 15 years of tracking this metric.

What’s driving this uptick? Specifically, Gallup highlighted a notable improvement in three elements of employee engagement: (1) learning, (2) recognition, and (3) feedback.

In particular, startups are spawning new HR technologies that can really help organizations move the needle on employee engagement. What are those disruptive technologies? See The HR Tech Stack Engagement Guide: New Innovations Disrupting HR.

How can you leverage these new technologies to boost engagement at your organization throughout the employee lifecycle?

Hr Engagement chart

1. First impressions count: start on day 1

The very first time you interact with your new employee—from the first recruitment touch to the first day at work—matters when it comes to nurturing strong engagement in your workforce. When companies have excellent recruitment practices, they experience a 300% revenue growth.

New personalized and data-driven recruitment tools can make sure new hires make positive associations with your organization before they even arrive. Structuring and aggregating feedback to review candidates takes the guesswork out and ensures you make unbiased decisions. A recruitment platform everyone loves to use empowers people to engage and help create a winning hiring culture.

2. Deliver new ways to learn and grow

Learning & development is one of the most effective strategies to boost engagement at your organization. Studies by Bersin by Deloitte show that organizations with strong learning cultures result in 30-50% higher engagement and retention rates. 80% of employees feel learning new skills would make them feel more engaged.

Tap into new digital learning tools that offer employees consumer-like experiences with recommendation and review systems, similar to Netflix or Amazon. Machine learning also enables in-depth data analytics on trending topics, what employees are learning, and what they want to learn next—allowing for a more personalized learning experience throughout the employee lifecycle.

With learning & growth opportunities as a recruitment driver for today’s talent, it’s important on day 1 to show your new hire you are committed to their growth and discuss personalized learning paths to reach their career goals. Throughout your employees’ lifecycle, offer continuous opportunities to learn and grow so people remain stimulated. This means giving stretch assignments and encouraging both horizontal and vertical growth at your organization while providing key learning steps to reach and excel in these new roles.

3. Think out of the box on how you recognize employees

It’s well documented that recognizing your employees for the great work they’ve done goes a long way to boosting engagement. According to Bersin by Deloitte,engagement scores improve by 14% when organizations implement meaningful rewards programs. What’s more companies with sophisticated recognition practices are 12x more likely to have strong business outcomes.

Recognize key employee career milestones throughout their lifecycle from day 1 to when they leave. With four diverse generational segments in the workplace, a one-size-fits-most recognition strategy is no longer an option. Consider your employees’ individual needs and motivators, and a platform that covers a wide selection of meaningful reward choices. Know your recognition ROI by investing in a platform that covers a complete feedback loop and ways to measure your rewarded employees against your engagement goals.

Think out of the box when doling out rewards, don’t just give them a gift card or a gift basket. Consider giving experiential rewards like skydiving or cooking classes to make the recognition more special and memorable. For example as part of onboarding, welcoming new hires with experiential employee recognition gifts like urban foodie tours can help new cohorts bond with each other as well as embed them in the larger community.

4. Listen to what your employees have to say

Open and honest two-way communication between employees and management is considered a key driver of high engagement at new tech companies, according to a Culture Amp study. HR’s job is to understand their employees just as marketing must understand their customers. New on-demand employee feedback tools designed and supported by expert psychologists and data scientists allow you to uncover insights easily as well as tailor your feedback program.

Understanding how employees want to be coached and managed or rewarded and recognized can help improve your HR practices and boost employee engagement. Frequent employee pulse surveys and exit interviews when people leave provide rich data on how you can constantly enhance your workplace culture.

New tools to help you boost engagement

The HR industry is experiencing a renaissance with a flood of new and innovative HR tools to help you boost engagement throughout the employee lifecycle—recruitment & onboardingcompensation & benefitslearning & developmentemployee recognition, and employee feedback.

Three key pillars of effective recognition

Recognition is a key component of employee retention, but what are the fundamentals of a successful program? Alan Heyward, Executive Manager, accumulate, provides his insights

Growing numbers of organisations are treating employee recognition as a key pillar of their corporate strategy, recognising its critical role in driving cultural alignment and behavioural change, developing capability, and strengthening engagement and retention.

And it’s those organisations that are applying increasing levels of sophistication to three key areas that are realising some of the most significant gains – those areas being: recognition branding, employee communications and people analytics.

  1. Develop a fun, engaging and meaningful recognition brand

While some organisations simply default to positioning their recognition activities under an extension of their corporate brand, there are plenty of organisations that have invested heavily in developing creative, aspirational and engaging brands with impressive results.

Two of our major banking clients have developed and evolved their Heroes and Legends recognition brands respectively; the former invoking heavy superhero imagery to help recognise the everyday heroes within their organisation. The latter has drawn from mythology, employing a mix of illustrative and photographic imagery to represent the hidden legends within its walls.

Additionally, a large multinational pharmaceutical client has long celebrated a small blue mascot – Charlie – as the face of recognition throughout the company; he has acted as a fun, accessible, unifying element across its highly diverse workforce.

Another example is a large retail client, which uses its playful and, at times, irreverent Seeker brand – complete with seemingly endless amounts of canine imagery and puns – as a vehicle through which to recognise and reward behaviour that supports new business lead generation across its 30,000-strong workforce.

The themes and creative execution may be fun and light-hearted but, in each case, the recognition brand is highly meaningful and has become a powerful lever that organisations can pull to help role model behaviour and effect change, and drive outstanding, measurable results.

  1. Exploit the power of communication and community

It sounds like an obvious point to make, but effective communication – in all its forms – is critical to the success of any employee recognition strategy.

While virtually a hygiene factor in the consumer marketing sphere, most of these organisations are now realising the power of targeted communications to different employee segments. Some target inactive employees who have not recognised a colleague for some time; others present affordable redemption options based on reward points balance.

Many target demographic and geographic segments: blue collar vs white collar, office-based vs remote, fluent English vs ESL, and online vs offline are just some of the variations to consider. Within these segments, A/B testing is also common; variations in subject lines, messaging, imagery and communication dates are trialled, as are the use of control groups, providing the opportunity to further enhance communication insights and effectiveness.

The more progressive organisations also target influential recognition superusers – those who regularly give and receive recognition – and empower them as recognition champions, to help drive the desired cultural change and/or alignment, and use recognition to help build stronger employee communities.

Targeted, educational communications to managers are also common, as is the sharing of personal stories and individual profiles, to celebrate achievement, and role model and reinforce desired behaviours.

The empowerment and strengthening of employee communities via social streams is another critical element of the communication mix, creating an additional layer of engagement by providing a forum for both professional conversations and personal interests.

It’s no coincidence that organisations that provide a host of excuses for communicating infrequently, if at all, have trouble realising a strong return on their recognition investments.

  1. Make data-driven decisions

As I outlined in the Engagement Report in the December HRD issue, growing numbers of organisations are tapping their employee recognition data to produce insights that help optimise the performance and efficacy of their recognition strategies, and inform their broader organisational decision-making.

For example, our Heroes client (from section 1) has analysed its HR data sets to draw a clear, positive correlation between recognition activity and overall engagement.

Our Seeker client chose to overlay a qualitative element by surveying its employees on a range of elements, allowing it to build a strong internal NPS picture, identifying opportunities to improve process and communications, while also helping to shape its overall performance and reward strategy.

Other clients are undertaking internal and external benchmarking, and feeding recognition data insights into their broader talent identification and key influencer initiatives. Some are also looking to match recognition and engagement data with sales and customer data, to create a clear picture of key loyalty drivers at critical stages of both the employee and customer life cycles.

Pulse checks, onboarding surveys and exit interviews provide additional, rich qualitative data sources to mine.

3 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE EMPLOYEE RECOGNITION STRATEGIES

1. Develop a differentiated, fun and meaningful recognition brand to cut through competing corporate branding and communications.

2. Target your communications to different employee segments to drive the desired behaviour. Communicate well, communicate often, via multiple channels. Leveraging the inherent strength of your employee communities is critical to the development of a strong, vibrant, sustainable culture.

3. Exploit the valuable employee data sources at your disposal to produce insights that will help optimise the performance and efficacy of your recognition strategies, and inform broader organisational decision-making.


Where data meets communication and design
There are many factors that contribute to effective retention, but it is those organisations that understand and exploit the powerful relationship between a creative, differentiated recognition brand, targeted communications and rich data insights that will ultimately steal a march on their competition when it comes to engagement, performance and retention.

accumulate, a Qantas Loyalty business, partners with many leading Australian brands to help drive employee engagement and loyalty. Talk to us today to find out more. info@accumulate.com.au

As Work Is Transforming, How Will It Be Rewarded

New skills, Millennials and the gig economy are changing the way workers are paid

By Stephen Miller, CEBSJun 13, 2016

The trend away from traditional full-time employment represents a massive shift in the workplace with profound implications, said Ravin Jesuthasan, managing director and global practice leader at Willis Towers Watson, speaking at the June 2016 Total Rewards Conference in San Diego. The annual event is sponsored by WorldatWork, an association of compensation and benefits professionals.

“We are at the beginning of a fourth industrial revolution,” marked by technological breakthroughs including artificial intelligence, robotics, ubiquitous social media and the interconnectivity of virtual everything, he explained. Then add into this transformative mix nanotechnology, 3D printing, biotechnology, and smart systems that provide guided technology for factories, farms, grids and cities.

This is disrupting industries and impacting jobs,” said Jesuthasan, resulting in:

  • Significant job creation and demand within science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, but also widespread and growing job displacement in other sectors.
  • Heightened labor productivity but also widening skills gaps, revealed by a growing skilled-worker deficit and a low-skilled worker surplus. Many of those lacking in-demand skills are recent college graduates.

The disappearing jobs will greatly outnumber the creation of new positions, he noted, with losses particularly acute in office support/administration and manufacturing/production positions. Gains, however, are being seen in management, business and finance positions, as well as in the STEM-related fields. But even here, “with positions such as software developer, there are decisions about whether these should be full-time internal jobs or contracted out as task-specific outside assignments,” which can result in big savings on cost-to-hire and training expenses, and avoid the future costs of salary growth and employee benefits.

In the future, organizations will become a malleable set of functions, and deciding which ones get done inside the organization will be a key strategic question, Jesuthasan said. One consequence will be fewer employees and more partnerships with independent contractors, along the lines of the Uber/Lyft ride-hailing services “gig economy” model.

As this transition occurs, Jesuthasan noted, employee rewards are shifting “from collective and consistent to increasingly individualized and differentiated, with organizations continually optimizing the cost/value relationship with talent. And HR is tasked with navigating this new landscape.”

Consumer-Driven Total Rewards

“The increased speed at which information, people and goods move is changing the concept of what work is and how and where it gets done,” concurred Tom McMullen, vice president and reward practice leader at Korn Ferry Hay Group.

“Organizations are becoming more proactive in assessing what employees value the most—and the least—in their rewards programs, using employee surveys and focus groups,” he noted. “And they’re cutting back on rewards viewed as having less value.”

“Employee pay preferences matter more than ever when it comes to effective rewards program design,” said Dow Scott, professor of human resources and employment relations at Loyola University, Chicago. Like McMullen, he pointed to the importance of measuring employee reward preferences, “even if it means taking people off the line” to participate in focus groups.

This doesn’t mean catering to employees’ every wish and whim, Scott noted. But tailoring benefits to meet employees’ needs can help attract in-demand talent while increasing engagement and retention.

“Most HR programs in place today were created by Baby Boomers for Baby Boomers,” noted John Bremen, managing director of total rewards for the Americas at Willis Towers Watson. “The total rewards programs of tomorrow will emphasize employee choice. And the good news is that companies already are doing this,” from providing a range of employee-paid (but employer-negotiated) voluntary benefits to expanded health plan options offered through private health care exchanges.

Segmentation, personalization and customization—all terms for tailoring benefits to specific demographic groups, and even down to individual employees—are becoming bywords for how to attract and retain younger workers, several presenters noted.

As for Millennial workers (born 1980-95), who will soon be a majority in the workforce, and Generation Z (born 1996-2010), just now entering the workforce, “If we can provide what they want from work—especially career-growth trajectory—we can earn their commitment and loyalty and increase Millennial tenure to 6-7 years instead of 2-3 years,” said Mel Stark, vice president at Korn Ferry Hay Group.

Younger workers often expect a more-customized rewards package, for instance, where employees are provided a set amount of dollars to choose among benefit offerings, several presenters noted. “Yes, it’s complex, but we have so many more tools now, so that with technology we’re able to do it,” said Lori Wisper, director of rewards, talent and communication at Willis Towers Watson.

But the shift to customization “needs to be explained, otherwise employees will perceive it as a cost-cutting exercise,” cautioned Scott.

Future of Compensation

Stark and McMullen’s predictions about base pay trends, based on Korn Ferry Hay Group research, included the following:

  • Classic base pay systems will remain under stress due to shortages of STEM/skilled employees and a glut of less-skilled workers.
  • Increasingly customizing jobs for individual employees will make it difficult to match these positions with pay survey data.
  • The growing variety of employment relationships will require different pay structures.

In terms of variable pay, they said to expect:

  • A slowdown in the trend of increasing variable pay eligibility and amounts.
  • Emphasis on using variable pay to reward collaboration, such as by increasing team incentives.
  • An increase in the use of spot and peer recognition cash rewards.

Stark also foresees a swing back to concrete, measurable objectives “to make sure pay plans line up with behavior [that] management wants to support and reward.”

“It’s OK to have turnover, as long as it’s the right turnover,” said Elliot Santner, senior director of compensation and benefits at products distributor W.W. Grainger Inc. “We may lose some folks, but it should be the right folks.” That’s why, in an increasingly competitive world, rewards and incentives should be tied to recruiting and maintaining workers who meet your organization’s strategic needs.

At the same time, to attract the talent that organizations need, the importance of fairly rewarding people will increase, said McMullen. The need to ensure that pay is perceived as fair is being driven by:

  • The movement towards greater internal and external transparency in workforce pay, such as on social media websites.
  • Increasing executive pay transparency, including CEO pay ratios at public companies, which must be disclosed starting in 2017.
  • Pay equity legislation.
  • Minimum-wage and living-wage proponents.
  • Lower unemployment (at least for in-demand, skilled positions).

Finally, McMullen pointed to the growing trend of engaging and retaining talent with nonfinancial rewards, including:

  • Supporting employees’ skills growth and professional development.
  • Taking advantage of that growth by creating more flexible and personalized career paths.
  • Communicating a strong value proposition for staying with the employer (total rewards and career development).
  • Communicating a greater sense of purpose and meaning in the work.

“People want to feel connected to something bigger than themselves,” McMullen noted, and this is especially true of younger workers.

Stephen Miller, CEBS, is an online editor/manager for SHRM. Follow him on Twitter @SHRMsmiller.

How to Reward Employees on a Budget

Employee recognition for the contributions they make to the organization is a good thing. But it’s a slippery slope that needs attention.

By Inc. Staff

Everyone likes to get a pat on the back for a job well done—especially if that pat includes some type of bonus or other financial compensation or recognition before colleagues. Businesses often face the dilemma of wanting to recognize employees’ efforts and performance, but during difficult financial times they may have very limited budgetary resources to do so. However, rewarding employees and motivating performance does not always require a tremendous outlay of money. You may be surprised to learn that if you were to ask some of your employees they may actually prefer other types of recognition.

Starting an employee rewards and recognition program can be overwhelming at first. And the task can seem impossible when you are trying to figure out how to incentivize employees to perform well while staying within a tight budget. In tough economic times, however, small and mid-sized businesses must keep in focus what they want to reward while being creative in coming up with ways to keep the troops happy.

“The goal of any rewards program should be to engender the loyalty and team spirit and have a good workplace where people feel appreciated,” says Nancy M. Cooper, chair of the labor and employment group of Garvey Schubert Barer, a law firm based in Portland, Ore. “It’s also likely to help you meet business goals especially with small to mid-sized employers.”

The following article will discuss how to determine what you want to reward, different types of rewards and recognition, and pitfalls to avoid.

Rewarding Employees on a Budget: Your Goals

Your purpose in creating an employee rewards program may be to create some acknowledgment and motivation for your company team. The purpose behind a recognition program is to help motivate your employees to earn the rewards and ultimately help you meet business goals. Here are steps you can take to design an effective employee rewards program:

  • Identify what you want to reinforce. The first step you need to take is to identify the activity or activities that you seek to reward. This can include job performance, such as achievement of sales targets or product development goals or meeting customer timetables ahead of schedule. You can also choose to reward behavior, such as exceptional customer service or team work or leadership. “Before an effective reward or recognition program can be developed, you need to really understand what you want to reinforce,” Cooper says. “Do you want to reward positive performance so that employees will strive to succeed? Do you want to reward stellar behavior that serves the best interests of the company? Do you want to reward employees who put forward suggestions that improve the functioning of the company or save the company money? Do you want to reward individual employees or teams?” Once you establish what it is you want to reward, those things should become the focus of the program.
  • Motivate your employees. The goals of your employee rewards program can only be met if you get staff “buy in” or participation. “Let the employees know that you are establishing a recognition program,” Cooper says. “Let them know that the budget is tight, but it is important to you that there be recognition of their good work and top-of-the-line efforts.” One of the best ways to find out what motivates your employees is to ask them — and that also may help you determine what types of rewards to offer. If you have budget constraints, let employees know so that they are more creative with their suggestions. “The loyalty that is established through recognizing the little — and not-so-little — contributions made by your employees is one of the best side effects of a reward program,’ Cooper ads.
  • Make sure it works for the company. There’s no point in starting a recognition program that is not going to motivate employees or help you achieve business goals. So in addition making it work for employees, you have to make sure that it works for the good of the company. That’s why it’s so important to put thought into the methods of recognition you use and how effective and practical they are for the company. What works for one company may not work for another. “You should customize the reward to make sure it works with and is accepted by your company culture,” Cooper says.

Dig Deeper: Personalizing Recognition

Rewarding Employees on a Budget: Types of Rewards

There’s an old saying in business that money speaks louder than words. Hence the traditional practice in business of rewarding exemplary employee behavior with bonuses, raises, stock options and other types of financial remuneration. But money is not the only way to recognize employees and surveys have found that some workers actually prefer a more personal “thank you” note, being singled out in front of colleagues, or other forms of recognition.

During a recession or prolonged economic downturn, however, financial rewards may be highly prized by your staff. “Given the current downturn, I can’t tell every company that money won’t help,” says Cindy Ventrice, author of Make Their Day! Employee Recognition That Works (Berrett-Koehler Publishers 2009). “In many cases, employees are being under paid or have experienced furloughs or cut backs in pay.”

However, when people feel that they are being fairly compensated, then the best rewards for performance or behavior don’t line your pocketbook or wallet. “The recognition that sticks with people doesn’t have much to do with money,” Ventrice says.

People like recognition. People enjoy being thanked for their work. In fiscally tough times, financial rewards are not always feasible. “A lot of the employers I work with say, ‘We are afraid we’re going to lose people if we can’t give people the raises or the bonuses,'” Cooper says. “But they are finding ways to make their employees more loyal than ever. Employers have to be more creative about how they go about recognizing the good work.” There a number of ways this can be done, with little or no financial investment. Some types of ideas include:

  • Opportunities. Sometimes the most meaningful form of recognition involves some type of opportunity as proof that an employee is valued by an organization. Opportunities can range from being asked to sit on a panel discussion on your manager’s behalf, an educational or mentoring opportunity, or being sent to an industry conference, Ventrice says.
  • Exposure. Another meaningful form of employee recognition is giving that person exposure to the rest of the staff, to important clients, or to others in their field. This can include everything from being pointed out as the most creative software developer of the month on an in-house bulletin board to being invited to lunch with the boss and one of the company’s key clients. Create an employee-of-the-month parking space. Another idea: “Elect employees to a ‘Wall of Fame,'” Cooper says. “This is a public space in the company where photos of employees who have accomplished something truly special are displayed, along with the details of what they have done.”
  • Experience. Sometimes the most sincere form of flattery is being trusted with more challenging work. “I’ve heard a lot of people say they were given a new responsibility or they were taking on another customer as a new challenge,” Ventrice says. “People have to be aware that the underpinning of recognition is a respectful relationship.” If the company trusts you with new challenges, or tells you that you’re too valuable to take vacation at the same time as a senior manager — that may be all the recognition you need.
  • Praise. Something as simple as writing a personal thank-you note to an employee for a job well done can leave a lasting impression. “Several times a week I hear stories from people who say, ‘Here is the most meaningful recognition I have ever received.’ And it’s a hand-written note,” Ventrice says. Personal thank-yous can be very powerful. Some people keep them for 10 years. Other people have taken a bar napkin featuring scribbles form the boss and had it framed.
  • Personal appreciation. Other meaningful ways of rewarding employees involve customizing a personal sign of appreciation. Ventrice says one manager told her of an experience with an employee who was logging so many hours that he said jokingly one day, “I do so much for you that you should be buying me an SUV.” So the manager went out and bought a toy SUV and gave it to the employee and said, “You really do a lot and if I could buy you an SUV, I would. Let this remind you how valued you are.”
  • Allow flexibility in an employee’s schedule. Extra efforts can also be rewarded with understanding of the family/life balance that many workers are trying to achieve. That can range from allowing an employee to telecommute one day a week in exchange for high performance to allowing them flexibility to start earlier and leave earlier.
  • Gift card rewards. Use a limited budget for employee rewards to buy a series of gift cards at popular coffee shops, book stores, or online retailers and let the employee choose one when they have done something positive or noteworthy. These can also be administered by co-workers to employees who have exhibited positive behaviors, either helping other staff members, going the extra mile in serving a customer or by their team work.

Employee rewards that commemorate years of service or milestones tend not to work. “They get handled badly in so many organizations,” Ventrice says. “HR is typically responsible for sending out the plaque. It goes out three months to three years late. It goes through an interoffice envelop instead of being presented by a manager.” It’s a sign that no one really cares, Ventrice says.

The most important thing to remember about a recognition and reward program is that you are trying to build a team environment, stimulate employee interest, and create positive behaviors, Cooper says. “This doesn’t always take a lot of money,” she adds. “It does take some creativity, some listening and the ability to say thank you to those who do the work, provide excellent customer service and make your company the valuable asset that it is.”

Dig Deeper: Building a Culture of Employee Appreciation

Rewarding Employees on a Budget: Pitfalls to Avoid

There are both legal and moral minefields to try to avoid when starting an employee rewards program. You need to really think this through, understand your motivation, and communicate to managers how to distribute rewards so that every employee has an equal chance.

“It is important to be consistent in how the rewards and recognition are handled,” Cooper says. “Be sure you train your managers to not give the award to the same person time after time. Develop guidelines that outline how often rewards or perks are given out, and the value of them. Be sure that the system does not just turn into a popularity contest.” Here are some of the do’s and don’ts when starting an employee rewards program:

  • Don’t let it become a popularity contest. If co-workers are able to nominate each other, you need to take steps to make sure that the same clique of friends isn’t just always nominating each other. You want to take steps to make sure any recognition is actually being given based on merit. Some possible steps might be to make nomination forms include a description of the meritorious behavior and make co-workers sign the forms so that managers at least know who is nominating whom
  • Don’t give the perception of playing favorites. If the nominations are coming from management, be careful to spread the joy around. “There is a danger of giving the perception that the same group of people is being rewarded all the time or that only favorites are rewarded and that there is no real chance for anybody else to be considered,” Ventrice says. If an employee is prone to think they are being treated differently based on some factor other than work performance, this may feed that insecurity and suspicion.
  • Do communicate the criteria. When advertising the program to employees make sure you spell out very clearly what the rewards are based on, what criteria is used to choose winners, and how everyone in the company is eligible.
  • Do your homework when building the program. Put together a recognition team made up of managers and supervisors in different roles throughout the company. Get the team to come up with ideas, survey employees, and monitor how the program is working. Make sure managers are trained in how to administer the awards so the program works to improve overall performance.
  • Do start small with gift cards or a program to reward a specific behavior or goal. The safest types of programs that don’t get a company into trouble are programs that start small, such as distributing gift cards worth $5 or $10 attached to them as spot awards. You may want to focus on one goal initially, such as boosting service, and reinforce when rewarding employees that they helped the business meet this goal.

Employee rewards don’t only have to single out the individual either, Ventrice says. You can set team goals for certain groups or the entire company and when you achieve those have some type of celebration. “I know some manufacturing companies that set goals and called everyone out to the front lawn and made the announcement that they had met the goal,” Ventrice says. “They had a big pizza delivery and everyone celebrated. It doesn’t have to be anything big or anything that they know is coming. It’s about putting fun and excitement into meeting the types of challenges we need to meet to be successful in the current economy.”

Take Employee Recognition to the Next Level

Employee recognition for the contributions they make to the organization is a good thing. But it’s a slippery slope that needs attention.

By Dr. Paul White

 

Building a vibrant workplace requires a foundation of trust, respect, and honest communication. It also requires employee appreciation.

Over 200,000 global employees were studied by the Boston Consulting Group, and the top reason they reported enjoying their work was, “feeling appreciated”. Number 2 was having a good relationship with their supervisor, and number 4 was that they had a good relationship with their colleagues. Financial compensation didn’t appear until number 8!

Four out of five employees (81%) say they are motivated to work harder when their boss shows appreciation for their work. Unfortunately, many managers don’t respond to this need and those who do, choose employee recognition programs.

Traditional recognition programs breed cynicism and apathy and come across as a one-size-fits-all approach. When I talk with employees, front-line supervisors, and mid level managers about their companies’ efforts to improve staff morale, usually through employee recognition programs, the most common responses I get are negative:

“They don’t care about us; they just do this recognition stuff to make themselves look good,” said one employee.

“It’s just a bunch of ‘going through the motions,’” said another. “The people who give the awards don’t even know who I am.”

WHAT’S WRONG WITH RECOGNITION?

This doesn’t mean there hasn’t been a positive impact from recognizing employees’ efforts and achievements. Research has shown the effects of recognition done wellare decreased absenteeism, increased productivity, reduced staff turnover, and improved customer satisfaction.

While the prevalence of employee recognition programs has grown tremendously (in at least 80% of all organizations in the U.S. currently), employee engagement has barely increased at all (around 30 to 33% of the workforce report they are engaged).

Probably the most cynical environments I’ve experienced recently are medical settings and hospitals, public schools, and government agencies. Why might this be?

It appears that in many of these institutions they’ve tried to communicate recognition and praise, or have provided training on “how to build a positive team,” and it has been largely done through a program-based approach. This leads, almost by definition, to a perceived belief of insincerity on the part of the participants.

When employees do not believe that others are genuine or sincere in their communication of appreciation, reactions include cynicism, lack of trust, disbelief, skepticism, resentment…etc…

Why is this? Largely because people have not been communicated to with genuineappreciation.

WHY IS RECOGNITION OFTEN VIEWED AS INAUTHENTIC?

As I have explored the underlying issues with employee appreciation and recognition, the following themes have become clear. Employees question the genuineness of recognition when it is:

Commanded. Everyone has to participate whether they like it or not.

Organizationally Driven. The “recognition” comes from a divisional manager who has no relationship with the recipient.

Impersonal. A lot of recognition is communicated to groups: “Way to go, team! Great job!” But the message says nothing about the team member who stayed late to make sure the product would ship on time.

Generic. The number of negative stories I have heard is amazing — like when everyone in a large organization received the same Christmas card with the same (low dollar value) gift card enclosed.

Fake. When discussing reasons why recognition is seen as inauthentic, one astute (and brave) training participant stated: “Sometimes it’s because they don’t mean it.”

If you’re having problems in getting buy-in of your recognition program, you may want to investigate the perceptions of your employees and supervisors.

PUBLIC PRAISE AND OTHER THINGS EMPLOYEES DISLIKE…

The way many recognition programs are carried out helps feed employee aversion. Among them:

Public recognition. I ask groups, “How many of you would prefer not to go up in front of a group to receive an award or be recognized?” Regularly, 40 to 50 percent of the group raises their hand. (In some groups — administrators, librarians — it’s more like 80 to 90 percent.) One woman stated, “They can give me an award, but they’ll have to drag me up there to get it!” If the purpose is to encourage an employee, shouldn’t it be done in a manner they prefer?

Emphasis on verbal praise. While our trainings indicate that using words to communicate appreciation is actually the preferred method for a little less than half of participants, there is a fairly large subset that doesn’t trust words. Their mantras are: “Don’t tell me, show me,” or “Words are cheap.” They believe in action and tangible proof. Many of these individuals don’t want recognition or praise; they want help getting the job done.

Reliance on rewards. Virtually every employee recognition program has a heavy reliance on rewards as a key component. Unfortunately, our research shows that less than 10 percent of employees desire tangible rewards as the primary way to be recognized. In fact, we have noticed the number of employees desiring tangible gifts as the primary way to be appreciated actually seems to be declining. While most people like receiving some type of gift, if it is not also accompanied by sincere words, quality time, or helping them out, the gift is viewed as superficial and disingenuous.

SO WHAT SHOULD WE DO?

Ultimately, the question is “What should we do in response to this growing problem of perceived authenticity?” I think it needs to be answered at two levels: individually and corporately.

As Jim Collins stated in his bestseller, Good to Great, companies that are successful are willing to “face the brutal facts of reality.” If recognition in the workplace is viewed as superficial and fake, we better figure out why and then address the issues.

Unfortunately, some leaders seem to have the attitude of legendary comedian George Burns: “The secret of success is sincerity. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.” They want to act like they care about their employees. The problem is, faking it doesn’t work, and undermines any trust the leader may have with their staff.

While we can’t control the perceptions of others, we are in control of our own behaviors and attitudes. Individually, we should each strive to be genuine and authentic in our communication with others — don’t give praise when we don’t mean it, and seek to communicate in the ways meaningful to the recipient.

Corporately, each organization needs to take a hard look at their employee appreciation activities and take the time to obtain input and feedback from their staff about their perception of the employee recognition program and activities. Ask yourselves:

Are there processes or procedures that foster a sense of inauthenticity?

How much of our employee appreciation is personal (vs. organizational), individual (vs. group-based), and communicated in the ways important to the recipient (vs. generic)?

Recognizing employees for the contributions they make to the organization is a good thing. But we are on a slippery slope that needs attention, lest our efforts crumble into a pile of devalued activities that will either be increasingly scoffed at — or discarded completely in the future.


Also shared on 15Five.

Ways to Increase Employee Motivation Using Rewards

Seeking to increase employee motivation using rewards can sometimes be a daunting task for managers. But it shouldn’t be. When armed with the right information and the proper techniques, managers can be experts at enhancing motivation using rewards in no time.

Mangers who are developing, revamping or currently implementing an employee rewards program should consider these 20 tips:

1. Involve all employees in the development, implementation and revision of rewards programs

Involving all employees (or representatives from different positions) will encourage communication between employees and management about the rewards process. It will also ensure that both employees and upper management are onboard with the reward system.

2. Ensure that employees view the rewards as worth the effort

Including employees in the reward program development process is critical to ensuring that they value the rewards and see them as worth the effort. Managers should value employee input and select rewards accordingly. Employees who see the rewards as worth the effort will be more motivated to work hard to obtain them.

3. Make sure that employees understand how to earn the rewards

Managers should clearly delineate how employees can earn rewards. When employees have a comprehensive understanding of what is expected of them, they will be more capable of achieving performance standards.

4. Set reasonable and transparent performance standards for rewards

Employees must see the rewards as attainable in order for them to engage in the necessary effort to obtain them. Check in with employees to ensure that they believe the rewards are within their reach. Also, providing the employees with a dashboard where they can view their performance in real time will allow them to accurately assess their own performance and have realistic expectations for rewards.

5. Base reward determinations on objective performance data

When rewards are distributed based on objective data, employees are more likely to view the process as fair and are also more likely to have a concrete understanding of what is expected of them. This will increase their motivation to achieve the desired performance results.

6. Make sure employees view the reward system as fair

When employees view the reward system as fair, they will be more engaged in trying to obtain the reward. Rewards should be distributed consistently according to pre-determined policies. Never engage in favoritism or cut corners as this will have a detrimental impact on employee performance.

7. Always link rewards to performance

In order for rewards to have the most impact on influencing employee performance, they must be directly linked to the desired behavior. Tie praise, recognition, cash rewards and non-cash rewards to specific results. When employees understand the connection between their reward and their performance, they will be motivated to perform optimally in the future.

8. Recognize small and large accomplishments

Employees should be rewarded when they meet large goals as well as smaller milestones. This will ensure that they receive recognition for their progress and that their behavior is consistent with company expectations.

9. Reward teamwork and cooperation

Team-based incentives were found to be more effective at increasing performance than individual incentives. If team-based rewards are not already included in the company strategy, they should be. Additionally, the resources devoted to team-based rewards should be substantial. This could have a significant impact on cooperation, employee cohesiveness and the company’s bottom line.

10. Never take a good performance for granted

It can be easy to stop rewarding top performers, but this could be a fatal flaw. In order to keep top talent on the team, ensure that your company continues to acknowledge and reward an excellent performance.

11. Provide rewards immediately after the employee achieves the desired behavior

There is a temporal component to the effect of the reward. The longer the delay in providing the reward after the employee’s achievement, the less of an impact it has shaping subsequent behavior. Reward behavior that meets performance standards immediately.

12. Match the reward to the employee

Allow each employee to select their own reward or decide what rewards employees should receive under predefined circumstances. This will enhance their commitment to achieving the reward by engaging in the required behavior. Understanding the needs of employees is central to this process.

Of note, the reward that each employee wants may not necessarily be the reward with the most motivational influence. A recent study found that the majority of employees prefer cash rewards; however, many employees will perform better in pursuit of non-cash rewards of similar value (Jeffrey). Managers seeking to gain the biggest impact from their rewards programs should include both cash and non-monetary rewards for performance.

13. Offer financial rewards, non-monetary rewards and recognition

Reward systems that include a combination of cash and non-monetary rewards as well as social awards (e.g. recognition and praise) have the greatest impact on employee performance. Pay cash bonuses in a lump sum to maximize their effect as money only motivates when it is a significant amount.

14. When employees learn an unfamiliar task, distribute rewards based on a continuous reinforcement schedule

The most effective way to encourage learning a new task is by reinforcing employee behavior on a continuous schedule. This can require considerable effort when executed by a manager, however, using an employee reward software program is a more feasible and cost effective solution.

15. Once the behavior becomes a habit, distribute rewards based on a variable ratio or variable interval schedule

Variable ratio and variable interval schedules of reinforcement result in the most significant behavior change once the behavior becomes a habit. This change in behavior is also more resistant to weakening. Therefore, one of these reinforcement schedules should dictate the reward distribution process after the behavior has become a habit.

16. Do not disclose the cash value of non-monetary tangible rewards

Employees who are unaware of the exact cash value of non-monetary rewards are more motivated by them. Do not disclose the amount unless necessary.

17. Use long-term rewards programs

Long-term rewards programs have the greatest effect on employee performance and the resulting gains last longer.

18. Balance competitive reward programs with non-competitive programs

Competitive incentive programs are just as effective as non-competitive reward programs in increasing performance. An effective rewards strategy should include both.

19. Make rewards an integral part of the company’s strategy

Rewards are invaluable in aligning employee behavior with the organization’s business strategy. Ensure that rewarded behavior is in line with company standards, objectives and strategy.

20. Change the rewards frequently

When the reward is changed frequently, employees will be more surprised and the process will be more exciting. When employees are excited about rewards, they will work harder to achieve them.

Following the 20 aforementioned tips will help managers get the most bang for their buck from their employee rewards program.

Works Cited:

[1] Jeffrey, S.A. (2009). Justifiability and the motivational power of tangible noncash incentives. Human Performance, 22, 143–155.

[2] LaMere, J. M., Dickinson, A. M., Henry, G., Henry, M., & Poling, A. D. (1996). Effects of a multicomponent monetary incentive program on the performance of truck drivers. Behavior Modification, 20, 385-405.

[3] Skinner, B.F. (1938). The Behavior of Organisms. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.

[4] “Incentive Pay Plans: Which Ones Work and Why,” HR Focus, April 2001, p. 3.
Kreitner and Kinicki. (2004). Organizational Behavior. Boston. MA: McGraw Hill, Irwin.

Best ways to reward customer-facing employees

Any employee who deals with customers on a regular basis has probably earned a ticket straight to Heaven. But you still have to reward them well now for all the thankless work they do.

Customer-facing employees — your service reps, inside salespeople, receptionists, delivery people, etc. — probably get more than their fair share of negative or monotonous feedback from customers. That’s why they need special employee rewards to boost their morale.

Give them credit

These ideas can help build an effective employee rewards program:

  • Give them say in the rewards. Ask employees at least once a year what they’d like as rewards. Example: Send out a simple form asking employees to list their favorite restaurants, post-work activities and events, hobbies and dream destinations. What’s most important is that the rewards are customized to the group, or even better, to individual employee preferences.
  • Simplify the decision. Managers should reward employees for exceptional work. But to take rewards to a whole new level, ask employees to nominate colleagues for things they’ve done (and that you, as the manager, didn’t even know occurred). Outline the levels of quality, productivity and service that warrant rewards and recognition. And ask another manager to oversee the final decisions so there isn’t any chance of favoritism.
  • Speed up the process. Limit the amount of time a reward program or special event runs so employees never lose their interest in doing well and receiving rewards. A month is ideal for a special promotion. Any program longer than that will lose momentum. Also, hand out rewards and recognition within a couple of days after the event finishes.
  • Publicize what you do. Increase the effects of your morale boosting rewards by spreading the wordon what was accomplished and who did well. Post it online, in company newsletters and on the walls in public areas.

by 

Employee of the Month? Pros and Cons

Employee of the month- a term everyone knows about and everyone is striving to get at least once. After all, who does not like recognition? We all are fond of being praised and appreciated by others, didn’t we all worked hard to top in class. Organizations realized this could be a good tool for employee motivation. The employee who performs the best as per the standards are given the ’employee of the month’ award. Though the concept sounds interesting, it is not as simple as it looks. It certainly has its share of advantages and disadvantages. Let’s have a look at each of it in detail.

What is ‘Employee of the Month’?

The employee of the month is a recognition given to an outstanding performer. It may be in a form of gift, Gift certificate or a certificate with Thank you note. Some organizations have a wall of fame and the picture and name of the outstanding performer is put up there.

Few companies have started with this form of recognition, but scraped it of within few months, whereas few companies still think it is the best form of recognition and motivation. Thus, companies have been successful and unsuccessful while attempting to use employee of the month award.

Why Employee Recognition is Necessary?

HR policies in organizations are well framed, the expectations are clearly jotted down in the job description, also if the performance is not as expected then we have performance improvement plans, wherein employee is given a period and asked to perform well. If he fails then that may lead to his termination. Therefore, if disciplinary actions are well stated for poor performance there should necessarily exist something for a good performance.
Say, there are two employees , one is a hard worker and other is a average performer, if both of them are getting same benefit then the hard worker will feel demotivated. Thus, recognition in the form of ‘employee of the month award’ is a ‘pat on back’ gesture and a form of appreciation for the hard work. If employer wants a continued excellence, recognition is of utmost importance.

Advantages of Employee of the Month:

1. Healthy Competition:

An award for best performance will make the employees strive hard to do their assigned tasks in the best way. In sales, a person with highest sales figure, satisfied customers and good networking will have a chance of getting the award. Many a times, organizations keep incentives as a form of motivation.

2. Employee retention:

It helps to retain employees, as employee of the month award is a great accomplishment and a good point to add in the resume. Employee of the month or any other methods of employee recognition help for employee retention. When hard work is appreciated, employees are happy and when they are happy, they do not want to leave the organization

3. Employee Engagement:

Employee engagement means the sense of belongings to the organizations. An engaged employee sees the organizations goals and visions as its own, and takes effort to increase organizations reputation and interests. He is fully absorbed and enthusiastic for his work.
Employee of the month increases employee engagement as a person works well when there is a reward and recognition at the end.

4. Optimum productivity:

Organizations pay to get their work done, if the work done by the employees is the best, then ultimately organization is making profit. In addition, a reward in return to an employee makes him happy too. Thus, it is a win- win situation for both employee and the employer.

A perfectly set up incentive system and recognition methods will be a fair method to praise the employees who are doing well.

Disadvantages of Employee of the Month:

Though it has certain benefits, it is harmful if not executed well. Many companies have scrapped of the employee of the month program.

1. While making one person happy you make others unhappier:

Once an industry expert said, ‘one does not compare the cooking of our mom with your girlfriend and reward the ones who performs the best’ because while making one person happy you are making the other one unhappier. Mom and girlfriend both are dear to you, comparing them will cause unnecessary discord.

However, it sounds a bit offbeat to compare a personal relations with professional setup, but it does relate. As an organization, all employees are dear to you and are an asset to the company. It may cause discord and employees may harbor bad feelings. In a group of 100 people, if one is rewarded, then the 99 others are demotivated.

2. Causes internal discord within the organization:

While selecting the employee of the month, the selection is often subjective, the results, which are quantifiable, are focused more, but there can be people whose results are not quantifiable but they are the one who had an original idea, had guided and motivated the team to work harder. These efforts may have happened behind the scenes, but are appreciable and valuable support to organization too. Hence, putting up one person on top may make other people resentful and they may feel that the organization is being impartial. It is hard to evaluate the efforts taken by employees; one cannot monitor them all the time. Hence, the whole employee of the month award goes in vain.

Organizations need their work force to work with their strengths and weaknesses together and bring out a favorable result. However, once the employees are competing against each other the overall outcome is not good.

3. Focus shifts only on the benefits:

There should be perfect balance in everything; employees must focus on their work and overall growth of the organization. When awards and incentives are kept, the whole focus is shifted to achieving it and employees may ignore other necessary tasks. Employees are required to understand the companies’ vision and shared goals and work together accordingly.

By setting up rewards, companies are unable to inculcate the intrinsic motivation in the employee. Intrinsic motivation means, feeling motivated on their own without any extra means. Extrinsic motivating factors, condition employees to think ‘what will I get in return’, which is the most disengaged form of an employee.

4. Verbal Appreciation more effective:

One company sent a handwritten note from CEO to employee’s mother and his wife stating how great he is working and how great they are to have him in their team, this is the excellent form of reward; one can get for their good work. This way employer is not making others demotivated and the person who deserves to be appreciated gets the reward.

Thus, the key should be to make the best employee know that you are grateful without putting him as a focal point of all. If organization is confused about whom to appreciate, best way is to thank the whole team.

5. Employees may allege the employer of favoritism:

If the people who decide the employee of the month have his or her relatives working in the company, then he will be alleged for favoritism

Thus we saw that there is a high probability that employee of the month award could go wrong. Here are few steps that one can follow to get it right.

Steps for Good ‘Employee of the Month’ Plan:

1. Define the aim:

We saw Employee of the month award can help in employee retention, employee engagement and for increasing productivity. One must have one HR objective in mind and set the award accordingly. Any employee recognition and other HR activities must have its objective aligned to the business goal.

2. Prepare a blueprint:

One needs to decide the basic outline and the mechanism of the reward program and delegate the responsibilities. It can require people who will coordinate, gather and compile the votes.

3. Setting voting system:

The main point here is the voting criteria. Involve employees to set up the voting criteria, as it will make the process transparent and will assure them fair judgment. The objective must align to the business goal, if you are aiming on high productivity or sales target, then the criteria must be set on target achievement, revenue collection, relationship building and proactivity. Other issues must also be addressed like who can vote, when they will vote, procedure to vote and the like. Most importantly, all should know about the procedure.

4. Set the rewards:

Decide the rewards, for some team and for some objective, monetary gifts can be useful. However, some might feel an extra training to be a good reward or a day off from work as a good form of reward. Hence, choose wisely, it is best to have discussion about it with the team itself.

5. Follow-up:

No system is full proof, one needs to do many trails and errors as per the requirement, assess the satisfaction level/productivity or employee engagement of the employees. Have a check whether the objective that was set is being met. Directly communicate with employees and try to get an open feedback from them.

It is advised to first identify the need and the objective of employee recognition and accordingly choose the path. Employee of the month is a good way for motivating, though it is necessary to see it is not affecting negatively.

Few Best Practices for Employee Recognition:

Apart from employee of the month following ideas can also help for employee recognition.

1. Verbal praises:

Personally thanking the employee goes a long way. Thank an employee in front of superiors; introduce him or her to clients or to the higher authority of the company. Take efforts to highlight the excellent work done by the employee in important presentations and meetings. Give due credit to the deserved employee.

2. Thank you cards:

Send thank you cards to employees along with some gift cards or a flower bouquet. It does not cost much and does an impeccable job of employee recognition and appreciation. You can get the thank you cards printed, or if the time permits, sending a hand written thank you note is very valuable to employee.

3. Hall of fame:

One can display the picture of best performers on bulletin board or display pictures in the internal company website. Congratulate and thank them well. The recognition among all employees gives a boost to the performer.

4. Prepaid gift cards:

Gift cards from retail stores or petrol card is a best token of appreciation. Reason being its utility. A person can gift himself whatever he wants, when a gift card is given to him.

5. Staff celebration:

Have office get together and have some fun activities, or food parties, take this chance to appreciate all the team members and thank them for all the efforts that they put in.

6. Movie or event tickets:

After a long and tiring month of work, an employee needs some relaxation, a free movie ticket for couple or a favorite band or sports event will make him relax and have some fun. Activity like this promotes work life balance, as he gets to spend quality time with family on behalf of the organization he works with.

7. Volunteer Hours for Paid Days Off:

Give a day off for volunteer work, it is self-satisfying and also acts as a corporate social responsibility. Ask employees to visit old age homes or orphanage and do some good deed. The time they spend there can be considered as office working hours.

8. Retreats and Team Building Events:

Have some sports events and team building activities, which will help people, relax and be less formal. One can also take the team to an outing where food, sports, CEO Addressing, music can be arranged, it is a great way to unwind and be stress free. One can get refreshed and rejoin work with new vigour and enthusiasm.

9. Special skill based training:

Offer free training for knowledge enhancements or reimburse the cost of the training an employee wants to learn. Appreciate the zeal of learning and improvement.

10. Job rotation based on special skill of employee:

An employee with some special skill can be asked to guide some other group of employee. This activity will help him feel special due to the knowledge sharing and he will be recognized as a mentor by other staff members, which ultimately gives him a boost.

Employee Recognition: Low Cost, High Impact

by Annamarie Mann and Nate Dvorak

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Top performers need to know their efforts are recognized and valued
  • Employee recognition isn’t one-size-fits-all
  • Money isn’t the only, or even the top, form of recognition

In today’s war for talent, organizations and leaders are looking for strategies to attract and retain their top performers while increasing organic growth and employee productivity. From offering new perks to designing flexible workplaces, company efforts to optimize the workplace are as strong as ever.

But in their search for new ideas and approaches, organizations could be overlooking one of the most easily executed strategies: employee recognition.

According to Gallup’s analysis, only one in three workers in the U.S. strongly agree that they received recognition or praise for doing good work in the past seven days. At any given company, it’s not uncommon for employees to feel that their best efforts are routinely ignored. Further, employees who do not feel adequately recognized are twice as likely to say they’ll quit in the next year.

This element of engagement and performance might be one of the greatest missed opportunities for leaders and managers.

Workplace recognition motivates, provides a sense of accomplishment and makes employees feel valued for their work. Recognition not only boosts individual employee engagement, but it also has been found to increase productivity and loyalty to the company, leading to higher retention.

Beyond communicating appreciation and providing motivation to the recognized employee, the act of recognition also sends messages to other employees about what success looks like. In this way, recognition is both a tool for personal reward and an opportunity to reinforce the desired culture of the organization to other employees.

Acknowledging the Individual

Gallup’s data reveal that the most effective recognition is honest, authentic and individualized to how each employee wants to be recognized. Acknowledging employees’ best work can be a low-cost endeavor — it can be as small as a personal note or a thank-you card. But the key is to know what makes it meaningful and memorable for the employee, and who is doing the recognizing.

In a recent Gallup workplace survey, employees were asked to recall who gave them their most meaningful and memorable recognition. The data revealed the most memorable recognition comes most often from an employee’s manager (28%), followed by a high-level leader or CEO (24%), the manager’s manager (12%), a customer (10%) and peers (9%). Worth mentioning, 17% cited “other” as the source of their most memorable recognition.

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What’s most surprising about these findings? Nearly one-quarter said the most memorable recognition comes from a high-level leader or CEO. Employees will remember personal feedback from the CEO — even a small amount of time a high-ranking leader takes to show appreciation can yield a positive impression on an employee. In fact, acknowledgment from a CEO could become a career highlight.

When asked what types of recognition were the most memorable, respondents emphasized six methods in particular — and money isn’t the only (or the top) form of recognition:

  • public recognition or acknowledgment via an award, certificate or commendation
  • private recognition from a boss, peer or customer
  • receiving or obtaining a high level of achievement through evaluations or reviews
  • promotion or increase in scope of work or responsibility to show trust
  • monetary award such as a trip, prize or pay increase
  • personal satisfaction or pride in work

Recognition From All Sides

The best managers promote a recognition-rich environment, with praise coming from every direction and everyone aware of how others like to receive appreciation. This type of employee feedback should be frequent — Gallup recommends every seven days — and timely to ensure that the employee knows the significance of the recent achievement and to reinforce company values.

The criteria for recognition should align with the purposebrand and culture of the company and should reflect its aspirational identity to inspire others. Rewarding employees who are not top performers could adversely affect high performers’ motivation. As such, companies need to state specific standards for awards to avoid any backlash.

Great managers know that they can never give too much recognition as long as it’s honest and deserved. Acknowledging an employee’s best work goes a long way toward making him or her feel valued and can lead to other desirable workplace outcomes.