Why does an employee rewards and recognition program fail?

Employee rewards and recognition programs in organizations are generally launched with a great deal of fanfare with top level executive involvement. These programs are envisioned to transform the organization culture and are supposed to do wonders for employee motivation. The key metrics of the program find their place in executive dashboards and reviews for the first few months.

However, not all employee rewards and recognition programs are able to sustain the same momentum after launch and over a period of time the tempo fizzles out. There are many reasons as to why it might happen; in this article we take a look at a few possible reasons:

  1. Lack of executive sponsorship

Leadership involvement reduces over time and employee rewards and recognition ends up as one of the many HR initiatives. Leaders tend to shift focus on to other strategic and tactical imperatives and lose interest in the program as it becomes largely operational. Organizations  that have strong operations and people focus tend to fare better than others as employee rewards and recognition related key metrics remain an integral part of all internal reviews.

  1. Lack of line manager involvement

Line managers hold the key to a successful implementation of employee rewards and recognition program. However, if they are not involved during the design and planning of the program, they are likely to perceive this as yet another management initiative. This cynicism percolates to their team members and eventually to entire organization. The objective of an employee rewards and recognition program is to create a culture of appreciation and recognition, and managers are the key components of this. Hence, managers should be involved in the program at the planning and rollout stage and the success of the program should be incorporated in their KRAs.

  1. Lack of ground level interest

Employees might lose interest in the program over time due to the lack of interest from the leadership and diminishing importance or visibility of the program.  Or it could be due to disconnect with the program objectives or the messed-up implementation from the very inception. If the program was conceived a management or HR initiative without taking proper inputs form the employees or the line managers, then it is likely that the entire program might fall flat on its face like many other such initiatives once the initial enthusiasm wears off. Hence, an employee rewards and recognition program should be planned only after a dipstick with the employees.

  1. Process is too cumbersome

Implementation challenges might also derail the success of an employee rewards and recognition program. For example, making the process very cumbersome with too many criteria and variables might make it difficult for managers to reward and recognize the employees. An operations heavy process will deter them from going ahead and participating in the program. This holds true for employees as well. If the process of getting rewarded and recognized is too cumbersome, employees might not want to be a part of it. Hence, it is critical that the process is kept simple and intuitive; digitizing and automating it might be the icing on the cake.

  1. Program is frozen in time  

Employee rewards and recognition program designed once upon a time might lose its relevance over time unless the program evolves with the changing requirements of the organization and the workforce. Organization priorities might change over time as it grows and as the business environment changes. For example, achievements related to revenue generation might hold maximum importance when the organization is in growth phase. Over time as the growth slows down and organization matures, there might be increased focus on cost saving initiatives. Also, the changing profile of the workforce might impact the expectations from the employee rewards and recognition program. Younger and more tech savvy employees or increasing percentage of women employees entering the workforce would definitely place different demands from the program. Increasingly, peer recognition and self-nomination are becoming mainstream in most employee rewards and recognition programs. It is no longer the exclusivity of managers to recognize employees but be a part of a broader organization culture of appreciation. The leadership and HR should act as catalysts for the program giving it the required importance and visibility in all possible forums. They should invest in tools that digitize, automate and streamline employee rewards and recognition programs and ensure that there are no operational hurdles in the smooth running of the program.

 These are just a few of the top reasons why an employee rewards and recognition in an organization might fail. Leaders and HR must avoid these pitfalls to keep the programs alive and kicking, to keep employees motivate and productive at the workplace. And honestly, this is hardly rocket science. What an employee rewards and recognition program really needs is continuous support from the leadership and effort from the HR to keep the program alive and in tune with the needs of the employees at every level. The phrase “Change is the only constant” applies to employee rewards and recognition programs as well as they need to evolve and adapt to the changing organizational priorities, work practices and employee preferences.

by HiFives

Reward Employees for going Social

Typically when candidates consider a job position, they compare the compensation and benefit packages of various employers. You don’t have to be a very large business to offer admirable rewards, as there are small innovations that can make a big difference. The key to great rewards is to make them stimulating while maintaining the brand. Today, social media is becoming an increasingly significant tool for employees to work together with one another. Also, individual social profiles many times often work as advertisements for the company, displaying what its team members have on offer for potential customers.

It helps to encourage your employees to engage more positively on social networks by way of training, tangible rewards and gamification. Employees can collaborate with each other while showing outsiders the kind of innovation that is taking place inside the company walls. Most of the employees use LinkedIn, Facebook and other social networks for business and personal purposes. Employees can develop their personal as well as the company brand by crafting a Pinterest profile or attracting a large Twitter following. Rewards and incentives can help incentivize employees to engage more on social media and collaborate through different networks. With enhanced engagement, companies can create a happier workforce.

-by HiFives

Rewards and Recognition – the winner takes all! Is it fair?

Rewards and Recognition is an integral part of every organization’s HR policy. What started off as the management’s expression of appreciation of a job well done has evolved quite a bit and acquired the overall flavor of an organization culture of appreciation and recognition. However, it comes with its own set of challenges especially when implemented in a monetary form; more prominent for high value awards. Typically the employees who are likely to receive maximum recognition or the highest recognition are possibly the highest performing ones. It is not surprising that they are the ones who would get the highest salary increments and promotions!

Whether the winner takes all phenomenon is fair or not is question to be asked. It seems only logical that the highest performing employees would end up getting the maximum recognition and rewards. The caveat to this is that it might demotivate other employees who are possibly average performers or borderline cases. The bigger sin by managers or even entire organizations is to use a kind of quota system to ‘allocate’ rewards and recognition to employees. An employee who is an average performer might end up getting a reward to ‘compensate’ for the lack of a hefty increment or a promotion! Or vice-versa! Now this is a cardinal sin! This makes the whole practice of rewards and recognition a total sham!

A better approach would be to design rewards and recognition policies to appreciate small achievements and behaviors in everyday work that align with the company values such as customer orientation, innovation, integrity or initiative – anything small but significant from an organizational people road-map. It might not be directly linked to KRAs and hence unlikely to lead of other forms of ‘rewards’ like bonus, salary hike or promotion. This needs to be incorporated in the design of the policy rather than the implementation of it. Those employees who deserve recognition should get recognized in any case; however the employee should not be ‘rewarded’ or ‘recognized’ for the same achievement or behavior in multiple forms. Now, that might not be fair!

HiFives Employee Rewards and Recognition

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!

HiFives Employee Rewards and Recognition

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.

HiFives Employee Rewards and Recognition

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.

 

HiFives Employee Rewards and Recognition

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!

 

HiFives Employee Rewards and Recognition

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.

HiFives Employee Rewards and Recognition

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!

HiFives Employee Rewards and Recognition

The Future of Employee Rewards

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.

 

HiFives Employee Rewards and Recognition