Does Employee Rewards and Recognition make sense in a sales organization?

Does Employee Rewards and Recognition make sense in a sales organization?

This is perhaps one of the most confusing questions faced by managers responsible for handling a sales team. The fact that most sales-driven organizations have a well-developed compensation and incentive program already in place for its sales executives makes things rather complicated. However, these incentives alone might not always prove motivating for the sales representatives, as they do not exactly acknowledge or appreciate the efforts and dedication of the executives – only actual numbers. On the other hand, appropriate rewards and recognition can help in keeping the sales team motivated, especially during the low sales months. Also, most organizations expect the sales executives to share vital market intelligence with the marketing teams that can help in tweaking the marketing strategy or even the product strategy.  That is why a majority of sales organizations today are considering the option of creating effective rewards and recognition program for its marketing team in parallel to the existing compensation systems.

Need to constantly motivate the Sales Team

Sales is one of the most important business processes as it directly impacts cash flow and provides key information about customer needs and expectations. In fact, it is the members of the sales team, who are on the front lines of any business and who represent the face of the business in the marketplace. In addition to facing constant competitive pressure, they also need to deal with the changing preferences and buying processes of the customers. All these factors tend to take a serious toll on the motivation as well as the morale and dedication levels of any individual. That is why it is the responsibility of the business organization employing these professionals to have an effective reward and recognition program for keeping them constantly motivated.

How a Good R&R Program helps

The most important thing that companies need to understand is that all activities of sales representatives are purpose-driven. Unlike incentives and bonuses offered to a sales team, focused recognition and rewards tend to be more effective as they tend to be more personal and memorable. By publicly acknowledging and appreciating the hard work and efforts being made by these professionals to nurture client relationships, collect information, share insights and collaborate helps in solidifying their purpose and reinforcing transparency. A small investment in employee rewards can provide exceptional returns in terms of increased market share and better customer retention thanks to the boost in the motivation of the sales representatives.

Important Factors to keep in mind

Having a great reward and recognition system in place for the sales representatives is essential for creating a truly prosperous organization. However, it is important to keep some key factors in mind while creating such a system that offers the desired results.:

Integrating R&R Programs with Compensation and Incentive Plans

Like with most other employees in an organization, a rewards and recognition program can go a long way in keeping the members of the sales team happy and motivated all year round. However, it is important to ensure that these programs are integrated with the existing compensation and incentive plans. Relying solely on either the compensation and incentive plans or just the R&R systems can only provide temporary benefits. Integrating the two is the only way to bring about a lasting change in the attitudes and behaviors of the sales representatives and enhancing the employee motivation, dedication, and commitment towards the organization.

Ensuring feasible variety in the Rewards and Recognition

Most organizations feel that offering cash rewards along with a certificate of appreciation is the best way to keep the sales teams motivated. However, they tend to overlook the fact that such a system tends to become monotonous and boring after some time. In fact, the sales representatives often start comparing the regular cash rewards with the yearly bonus or incentives they receive from their employers. As such, it is important for the sales organization to ensure a feasible variety in the rewards and recognition being provided to the sales teams. This may be in the forms of tangible items, trips, and even gift vouchers that the sales professionals might find unique and appealing.

Recognize Both Individual and Team Efforts

Business organizations often commit the mistake of creating R&R programs aimed at appeasing only individual sales representatives or focusing only on the collective efforts of entire teams. Both these approaches can result in the failure of the employee recognition programs as they consider only one aspect of the overall sales process. In any sales-driven organization, the contribution of individual employees is almost as important as that of entire teams. Hence it is important to have a program that rewards and recognizes both individuals and teams as the case may be. This helps in promoting healthy competition between the members of the sales team while also encouraging them to work together as a single unit.

It is quite clear that a well-defined and properly thought through rewards and recognition program beyond the traditional sales incentive systems are essential for ensuring the growth and success of a sales-driven organization. Such a program can ensure a higher level of satisfaction and motivation of their sales representatives and deliver business impact well beyond just the sales numbers!

Low Budget Employee Recognition and Reward Ideas to Enhance Employee Motivation

Low Budget Employee Recognition and Reward Ideas to Enhance Employee Motivation

Seeking recognition and appreciation for their work is basic human nature and nowhere is this behavioral trait more evident than in professional work environments. In fact, employee recognition and rewards have emerged as the key aspects for creating a highly engaged workforce committed towards business growth. The process is aimed at acknowledging the efforts, hard work and workplace behavior of employees that contribute towards the success of an organization and fulfillment of its objectives.

However, most small and medium business organizations and even larger enterprises tend to feel concerned about the costs involved in implementing a proper employee recognition and rewards program. What such organizations fail to understand is that it is the intent of recognizing and rewarding the employees that matters the most, rather than the money they spend for the same. Business organizations can plan for a recognition system that suits the needs of their employees as well as their budget more efficiently.

Planning a Suitable Rewards and Recognition Program

The most important thing that business organizations need to understand is that the rewards being handed out to employees neither need to be expensive nor in the form of cash. In fact, most employees feel satisfied by the fact that their seniors are aware of their efforts and willing to acknowledge the same. However, employers need to make sure that any non-cash rewards that are chosen should keep the interests of the employees in mind. It has been observed that such rewards are more effective in enhancing employee motivation rather than cash rewards. Discussed below are a few low budget employee recognition and reward ideas that can help enhance employee motivation and engagement levels considerably.

Public Recognition

Acknowledging and appreciating the efforts and hard work of the deserving employees publicly is the most common and cost-effective method. Such public recognition can be made in front of the team members of the selected employee or the entire workforce at an organization level event. In either case, the employees tend to feel a sense of pride and achievement, which motivates them to further improve their performance. Such recognition should ideally include a certificate of merit and a small medallion or trophy which can serve as a constant reminder for the employee.

Workplace Benefits

Another cost-effective way of rewarding the employees is to offer them some desirable benefits at the workplace for a specific time period. The benefits can be extended permanently, in case of repeat achievers, which will also prove inspiring for other employees. These benefits may include flexible work timings, free pickup, and drop facilities for a specific time, upgraded workstation or even paid training for skill enhancement. Such rewards tend to enhance the motivation level of the entire team as the members are able to see the benefits gained by one of their own thanks to their diligent and sincere efforts.

Paid Outing with Family

A majority of employees today struggle hard to create a perfect balance between their work and family life. In addition, the cost of enjoying an outing with a family is often very high, which is why an average employee tends to do it less frequently. Hence, being rewarded with an opportunity to spend quality time with their family without having to worry about the expenses for the same, is something that most employees will find appealing. The venue and type of outing can be decided on the basis of the level of the employee receiving the reward.

Time Off from Work

The highly competitive work environments today often make it impossible for employees to take time off from work. This can lead to their physical and mental exhaustion and can even cause a reduction in their efficiency. One way to avoid this problem and integrating it with employee recognition is to give the employees time off from work. The employees can choose between coming to the office and doing nothing or staying at home to indulge in an activity that helps them to unwind and relax. A couple of days off from work will ensure that the employees feel truly acknowledged for their efforts. It also helps them feel wanted and cared for by their employers and thus helps them develop a stronger bond with the organization.

Formal Meal with Top Management

The idea of enjoying a formal dinner with members of the top management is also a great way of acknowledging and rewarding the employees in a budget-friendly manner. Most junior level employees are in awe of these top-level professionals and sharing a meal with them as a reward for their efforts and hard work often proves to be quite motivating. Moreover, this method of recognition and appreciation also provides the top management to interact with the high performing employees and assess their suitability for enhanced positions within the organization in the future.

All the above options (and many others we can think of) make it possible for business organizations to maintain a relatively low rewards budget without losing out on the benefits of employee recognition and appreciation.

HiFives Team

Will digitization of Rewards and Recognition result in loss of personal touch?

The answer to this question is a resounding NO!  People had said similar things about the telephone, computers, the Internet and so on. But as social beings, we have still managed to figure out ways to keep personal interactions going, at least in some form.

When it comes to employee rewards and recognition, there are huge benefits of digitizing and automating the process:

  1. Timeliness: One of the key requirements of timely recognition of employee achievements can be achieved through a digital platform that cuts through the manual processes of data collation, approvals, procurement, and distribution.
  2. HR Productivity: Getting rid of the manual tasks frees up the time of the HR team allowing them to devote their time and energy for more value-added activities.
  3. Digital savvy employees: With a good percentage of Gen Y employees in the workforce who spend a significant percentage of their waking hours on various digital platforms, having a traditional system of rewards and recognition is just unthinkable.

While the benefits of digitization seem obvious, what about the flipside of it in terms of reduced employee touch?

This is our school of thought, corroborated by real-life experiences in various organizations where such digital platforms have been implemented for employee rewards and recognition:

  1. Employee Events: With digitization of the processes, the HR Team now has more time to plan and execute events linked to employee rewards and recognition such as floor huddles, all-hands-meets, town halls and other formats of team meetings to recognize employees in person, typically by the manager or someone senior in the organization in front of reasonably large gathering of employees.
  2. Emails: Digital platforms would usually send out the communication over email to the team that the employee belongs to, cutting across locations and offices. Employees in other offices or locations who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to know about a colleague getting recognized or would get to know it late through a monthly newsletter etc. would be able to know it instantly as it happens. Several of the immediate colleagues might even reach out to the recognized employee over email (phone or messenger) to congratulate him or her.
  3. Digital Dashboards: A digital wall of fame can propagate the message even further across the broader organization, cutting across all boundaries of geography, functions, and teams and practically reaching all employees of the organization.
  4. Social Media: Policies in certain organizations allow the communication to go beyond the organizational boundaries into social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. It might get posted through the company account or allow the employees to share the post to their personal accounts, further increasing the reach. The communication can now reach the friends and family of the recognized employee, further increasing his or her level of joy.

Overall, it does seem that digitization of the employee rewards and recognition program adds much more than what it takes away. There is no reason to believe that it would reduce the personal touch. In fact, it will improve the timeliness and spread of the communication vastly, creating a far higher level of satisfaction for the employee when one compares it with the traditional method of communication and distribution of employee rewards. It is almost like comparing an airplane with a bullock cart. Given today’s digital savvy way of life, geographically distributed workforces and busy corporate schedules, a digital platform for employee rewards and recognition is a must-have in most organizations. No second thoughts!

The Magic of Employee Recognition

Recognition is an ancient tradition in all communities, dating thousands of years. Recognition at the workplace too goes back in history. Typically top driven, it represents the appreciation of performance or achievement of an individual or a group of individuals, generally by a designated leader within the organization. Employee recognition may or may not come with monetary benefits but more often than not, it comes with high visibility within the organization.

Employee recognition has come a long way and has evolved into a more structured form of appreciation within the organization; not just restricted to leaders or managers but any employee in the organization could recognize anyone. Such peer-to-peer recognition, though a noble thought has been subject to a lot of pessimism from the management as to whether it is indeed genuine or not. Several organizations have downgraded the value of peer-to-peer recognition to well below manager recognition due to this reason.

Whatever the mechanism of employee recognition, we believe it should be timely and well thought through. It has a multiplying impact on employee motivation if done in the right way. Hence, systems and processes need to be implemented to ensure that the impact of it is fully realized by the organization. That is when the magic of employee recognition will touch the work lives of all employees and create a great work culture.

An employee recognition system should take care of the following:

  1. Enable a manager (or peer) to recognize an individual or group in a few easy steps
  2. Checks and balances to minimize bias, duplication and errors to the extent possible
  3. Financial or other authorization based on the organization structure and policies
  4. Communication to the immediate group and the broader organization easily and quickly
  5. Reporting and tracking of the key metrics

Key metrics would include coverage ratios at various levels. Usually, organizations would set a target coverage ratio for themselves. Though setting a target puts more focus into the whole process but it might also make recognition for the sake of recognition which devalues the entire concept. Hence, our recommendation would be to set a target range for employee recognition, purposely keeping it on the lower side to preserve the novelty and the value of it rather than making it an entitlement.

All this is just the science of employee recognition, driven by systems, processes and hard numbers. However, the art of employee recognition goes much beyond that – what is said and written; the honesty with which the communication is done and the timeliness of it; all matters. Systems and processes can only facilitate but it is up to the individual manager or employee to create that magic!

According to us, employee recognition is both an art and a science that helps build a culture of appreciation within the organization. This will ensure that employees think and act beyond their goal sheets and appraisals and create a positive atmosphere within the organization. Ends are always going to be important but means too are important. Hence, what is required is the magic of employee recognition that should permeate through the entire organization between one appraisal cycle and the other.

HiFives Team