What’s the best form of employee rewards?

Employee rewards in modern day organizations has been evolving over the years – it has become more of an art than a science. Gone are those days where employees were happy receiving trophies and consumer durables.

Organizations have tried everything from trophies, company branded merchandize, durables, electronics, holiday packages, gift vouchers and even cash.  Many organizations have used training programs and conferences to motivate their high performing employees. A few of these methods have worked, most of them haven’t. What does it mean for organizations? Should they stop experimenting and continue with what they are doing? What is the best method of rewarding employees?

As you might have guessed by now, that there is no single right answer to this question! The answer is ‘it depends’. It depends on a whole host of factors ranging from the industry type to employee seniority level right down to individual employee preferences. Given the complexity of the situation, organizations are faced with the daunting task of choosing the type of reward to give their employees.

However, a couple of options seem to make sense more than others. Rather than deciding on what the employees would want, it would seem better to leave the choice to the employees themselves. Given this, cash, digital currency or popular gift vouchers would make the cut. Employees could use these rewards to purchase that they would want to rather than being locked down to the choices of the HR/ management team. These work out far better than the traditional company branded merchandize or consumer durables.

How do intangible rewards work out? It’s definitely a good idea given the overuse of the other kinds of rewards. Coffee with the CEO, Dinner with the Director, Conferences and Training programs are few of the ideas that be utilized by organizations that do not prefer monetary rewards.  In fact, we believe these types of rewards could actually get into mainstream going forward. Coupled the social recognition from colleagues, employees would find these rewards more meaningful than others.

 

How important is recognition for employee engagement?

To answer this question, let’s pose another question! What is employee engagement in the first place?

Very broadly, employee engagement is the art and science of making employees feel good – about themselves, about the organization, about working in the organization and about working with each other. This ‘feel good factor’ can be achieved through tangible and intangible means.

In today’s day and age, social recognition plays an important role in what makes us feel good. People are thirsting for likes and comments on social media like Facebook, Instagram, etc. In a similar way, employees value social recognition of their achievements at the workplace. For confidentiality and data privacy reasons, the reach of these recognition platforms might be restricted to within the four walls of the organization.

Monetary rewards can play can be an additional factor on top of the social recognition.  Even non-monetary benefits like conferences, training programs and direct interactions with the top brass might do equally well if not better!  All adds up to the ‘feel good factor’ of employee engagement.

The most critical aspect of recognition is spontaneity, appreciation as something good happens. Could be a casual pat on the back or a round of applause at team meeting – it all makes a difference, provided it’s timely. Obviously, the quantum or the perceived value of the awards needs to be calibrated with the level of achievement for it to make sense.

All said and done, recognition plays an integral part of employee engagement not matter how it is executed. At the end of day, happy employee is what matters most whether is a pat on the back, a trophy, a shopping voucher or a trip to the Bahamas!

 

Can Rewards and Recognition drive a culture change in the organization?

The short and sweet answer to this question is an absolute yes! Provided the desired behaviors that should be a part of the organizational culture are mapped correctly and rewards and recognition is used to reinforce them.

Let’s take an example – as an organization if you want to create a culture of honesty and hard work, you might want to formally recognize employees who had the option of not being fully honest in the course of their work by taking the easy way out but decided to stay on the right path even if that meant putting in a lot more effort and maybe even a slight delay in achieving their goals.

Another example could be of an organization which wants to discourage employees from staying in office till late either because they are inefficient or they want to impress their superiors. If the organization recognizes employees who are genuinely efficient – they complete their work on time and leave office on time consistently. While it might be hard to rank and stack employees based on their efficiency, there could be a self-nomination process and the claims of the nominees could be easily validated based on feedback from their managers and the attendance system data.

In fact, our view is that rewards and recognition can play a pivotal role in initiating a change in the organization culture.  It is really basic human nature to gravitate towards behaviors than give them the maximum benefits.  Organizations should include behavior or value based recognition in their employee programs in addition to the general outcome based recognition – that’s our recommendation.

Automated Performance Assessment –The Rise of the Machines

April 20, 2018: It’s the Judgement Day today in Sparrow Solutions today – the annual appraisal ratings will be released in the organization today. For most employees, it’s the day when their efforts throughout the year will be recognized and eventually be rewarded through increments, bonuses, and promotions. A few employees fear the worst that they might be asked to leave due to under-performance. Every year the bottom 10% of employees is asked to leave the organization due to poor performance. It’s a tough call but it has to be done. But one wonders why should the organization wait for a whole year to figure that someone is under-performing and corrective action needs to be taken? On the other hand, an employee who is an overachiever needs to wait until the end of the year to be rewarded and given the next level of challenges.

The other big flaw in the system today is that the qualitative assessment of performance leaves a lot of room for biases to creep in. Plus, in most organizations, the HR team and the people managers spend an inordinate amount of time in discussing and debating about the performance ratings. Add to that the time spent in collating and presenting the data. All of this hampers productivity and delays actual action.

In all organizations, there is a big push towards making data-driven decisions even in people matters. The big data approach to performance appraisals could increase efficiency, cut down on the manual effort, reduce bias and the cycle time of performance appraisals. We should be looking at continuous performance assessment and corrective actions.

As employees work in the organization, they leave a trail of data in their everyday work tools be it Project Management System, CRM, ERP, Time and Attendance System, etc. Automated performance management systems of the future will monitor employee performance on a continuous basis, based on the data derived from these systems. These systems will score the employee’s performance based on various parameters linked to business results and suggest corrective actions or even initiate actions itself. Actions could range from playing a motivational video, recommending a training course, connecting with an internal subject matter expert on chat to even recommending a change in job profile of the employee.

The biggest advantage of such systems would be the continuous assessment of employee performance. Corrective actions can be taken immediately, so no need to wait until the appraisal cycle. Be it training, reskilling, role enhancement (read as a promotion) or role change – can be initiated immediately. The system will have predefined thresholds for each action. The system will learn from past experiences of such interventions and their effectiveness, and tweak its algorithm for more effective interventions. The system can also keep track of employee motivation and take corrective action before it starts affecting productivity.

In today’s business environment, every second count. And keeping pace with the business changes is the need of the hour. Hence, such performance measurement and development systems can make employees and organizations more responsive to chances. It will result in higher productivity, greater business impact and higher employee satisfaction. The amount of time spent by the management and HR in the formal appraisal process can be cut down drastically further increasing productivity. Think of start-ups and small companies that are growing rapidly, which need to be extremely responsive to the business environment. But at the same time, they will always be short on HR resources to manage their people and performance. The other advantage is that these systems remove supervisor bias and errors.

While it might take some time before the system can speak out ‘you are promoted’ or ‘you are terminated’ but we are definitely going to see more intelligent learning systems for employee performance management very soon.

Peer Recognition – putting it all together

With the increasing influence of social media in our lives, it has become imperative that corporates give more than a lip service to peer recognition. The earliest form of peer-to –peer recognition is the ‘Thank You’ note that a colleague can pin on to your dashboard. In the digital world, the ‘Thank You’ notes have been replaced by ‘Thank You’ e-Cards.
Peer-to-peer recognition, also known as 360 degree recognition was thought of as a harmless and costless way of motivating employees, till a few progressive organizations started taking this to the next level. They started inviting nominations for awards from peers, not just managers. Practically, anyone in the organization could nominate anyone. However, this started leading to malpractices of ‘I scratch your back, you scratch mine’ or gaming the system. This is precisely the number one reason why most organizations have stayed away from any serious peer-to-peer recognition keeping in mind the philosophy ‘the manager knows best’. Again, a few progressive organizations have taken the lead to bring in manager or HR moderation to remove any such bias. Smart recognition systems might have built-in rules to detect and prevent such ‘games’ and ‘biases’.
Peer recognition or peer based recognition is here to stay because in today’s corporate world, employees work with their colleagues in their own teams or across different teams much more than they work with their own reporting managers. In many cases, employee might work out of remote locations such as client sites or the field. They might not even meet or interact with their managers on a regular basis. So, peers are most often the best source of getting feedback about the employee’s performance on the job and to recognize the same!

Should organizations celebrate employees’ personal milestones?

Mumbai, 3:30pm, an ad agency office: In the large conference room, there is a party going on! Music, snacks, beverages, flowers and a cake! Is it someone’s birthday today? No! It’s Smita’s wedding anniversary! So her team, the HR and her boss are celebrating the occasion. The HR dials Aloke, Smita’s husband and switches on the speaker phone as Smita cuts the cake and her colleagues cheer and clap.
Switch over to Aloke’s office, a multi-national bank. All work and no play! A few colleagues who follow him on social media wished him in the morning but nothing as such happened officially. No party, no celebrations! Just like any other day at office for Aloke.

The question is whether organizations should celebrate employee’s personal milestones? If so, how far should they go? Employee’s birthday, marriage, new born,
wedding anniversary, spouse’s birthday, children’s birthdays? What else?

The simple answer is yes! If it makes the employees happy and does not cost a whole lot to the organization, then it makes absolute sense to do it! It could be a simple group mail, a post on the intranet or official social media, a small inexpensive gift or even a small party. Organizations might want to incorporate these in their employee welfare policies and budgets. HR and Managers might do well to proactively implement the policies. Even without an explicit policy, they can take the initiative to acknowledge such occasions, be it a simple bouquet and card. Such initiatives can go a long way in deepening the bond with the organization and build better bonding within the team. Today when there is so much digitization and automation, a little personal touch is really helpful in improving employee motivation.

Should organizations reward employees for their achievements outside?

Amit works for a leading multinational in Mumbai. He is a big running enthusiast. He runs races in different cities across India and the world. Recently, he successfully completed the Kenyan Ultra Marathon. He posted the pics on Facebook and Instagram, and his friends started liking and commenting on the posts. Several of his office colleagues, who follow him on social media walked up to him and congratulated him. It felt very good!
Amit’s friend Shekhar works in a start-up in Bangalore. He is also a fitness enthusiast but not as big as Amit. Somehow Amit had convinced him to join him for the Kenyan Ultra Marathon. Due to his fitness levels, he did manage to finish the race but he had severe cramps and dehydration after it. The day he re-joined office, he received a hero’s welcome – there was a flash mob, bouquets and gifts from the management; the CEO himself came and congratulated him, the HR invited him to give the entire team a pep talk about fitness which was webcast across the other locations and the video was added to the company intranet. Shekhar was overwhelmed. He started a running club along with his colleagues and employees of other organizations around his office also joined in. Amit flies down once a month to Bangalore to coach the club members. They travel across the country to participate in running events.
So, what are we saying here? Should organizations celebrate achievements of employees outside of them? Does it make sense? If so, where should one draw the line?
If one were to jot down the broad categories of external achievements possible, one can come up with a list like this:
• Scholastic achievements like getting a degree or certification
• Sports achievements like winning or participating in a major sporting event
• Artistic achievements like winning a talent hunt or performing in an event
• Social achievements such doing a project for a social cause
• Personal achievements such as getting engaged or married or spouse or children achieving something important
Our view is that as a best practice an organization irrespective of its size or origin should make some attempts to recognize employee achievement outside of its boundaries, even if monetary reward is not possible. Even an email, a mention on the intranet or a newsletter or during a floor meeting might work!
Most organizations might not have explicit policies on this, so it is up to the HR and line management to take the initiative on the same. Yes, there are qualitative calls that they need to take on the level of achievement but it’s not that big a deal. Bottom-line: its worth doing something which makes employee s feel happy and motivated and doesn’t cost the organization a bomb!

by HiFives Team
To know more about best practices of employee rewards and recognition, please visit www.hifives.in

The Future of Employee Rewards: Will be earned but not given

Employee rewards and recognition is still the work of the managers and HR in 90% of organizations much like compensation and benefits. It is yet another task, another chore, another line item in the to-do lists of managers and HR.

Nomenclature varies from organization to organization – Spot Awards, Star Employee, Performance Champion, etc. The process might also vary from one organization to another – manager nominates, functional head or a panel selects the winner, HR communicates to the winning employee, either over email or in a larger forum such as a town hall or a floor meeting. But, the overall concept of employee rewards remains the same across most organizations.

There are a few progressive organizations that believe in the concept of 360 degree recognition and invite nominations from peers and colleagues. In most cases, these nominations need to be scrutinized and accepted by the managers/ HR before it can be released to the employees.

A good number of organizations use some sort of process tools to automate the rewards and recognition based on predefined rules. These tools simply make the processes more efficient and reduce the chances of errors. There is hardly any built–in intelligence in these tools to decide winners based on continuous assessment of employee performance. They just process the requests from managers and communicate to the selected employees.

In the future, as the new generation of employees enter the workforce we have good reason to believe that the rewards and recognition scenario will also undergo a massive transformation. Employees will no longer be ‘given’ rewards by their managers and HR but will ’earn’ the rewards themselves based on their actions and performance. Systems powered by artificial intelligence will automatically assess the performance of employees based on past data and reward employees automatically objectively and fairly without manual intervention. These systems will capture data from all work tools that the employees use such as project management systems, CRM tools, issue trackers, attendance systems, learning management systems, etc. The ‘intelligent’ reward systems will be able to understand the level of challenge under which the employee is performing and the capability of the employee (based on past performance) and reward him or her accordingly.
What this means is that employees who are at higher of performance might get rewarded less for performing the same level of task as those employees who are still performing at a lower level. Of course there could be a different school of thought on that. The HR and the management will still be able to define the rewards framework, the thresholds, the levels and quantum of rewards.
This is what we believe the future of employee rewards will look like. Employees will not have to wait for their managers to reward them but will earn the rewards themselves on the go. As always, there will be progressive organizations who will adopt these concepts earlier than others. Also, a whole new generation of ‘intelligent’ reward systems that will start coming into organizations.

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.