Why timely Employee Recognition is as important as the program itself?

Why timely Employee Recognition is as important as the program itself?

The fact, that the only thing constant in a business environment is change, is well acknowledged and accepted. While some changes might not actually prove beneficial for business growth, most others are aimed at driving business success and profitability. The one change that has proven extremely beneficial for business organizations is the growing focus on ensuring employee engagement and happiness. Only a few years back, these aspects were handled by the HR department of an organization and were considered not significant enough to be an integral part of the key business strategy. However, today organizations have become well aware of the fact that a higher level of employee engagement is essential for enhancing productivity, innovation, and business growth. They also understand the significance of employee rewards and recognition for enhancing engagement.

How Recognition drives engagement

Employee recognition can help companies get amazing results not only in specific work areas but across the entire organization. In fact, industry experts are of the opinion that recognition is the most important tool that can be leveraged by managers to drive engagement and performance. This is because recognizing the efforts and achievements of employees is known to enhance their overall satisfaction levels of working with the organization. It also makes them feel valued and makes them feel inclusive in organizational growth. Most importantly, employee recognition helps in opening up avenues of communication between the employees and the management, which further improves engagement and performance.

Different Forms of Recognition

Employee recognition programs and strategies vary from one organization to another and are based on the unique needs of a company as well as individual employee preferences. Some easy ways in which organizations can recognize their employees are given below:

Written Praise

Short hand-written notes of appreciation or even emails appreciating the efforts and contribution of employees are common methods of employee recognition. These notes and emails act as tangible proof of the achievements of an employee and bring a personal touch to the whole concept of employee appreciation. Most importantly, they offer great flexibility in terms of appreciation shown to an employee.

Verbal Praise

Another common type of employee recognition is verbal praise, which is also the oldest method of employee appreciation. Verbal praise is almost always informal in nature and can be offered by the supervisors of the employees, their peers and even the members of top management in an ad-hoc manner. However, this does not diminish its value in any manner and proves equally effective in improving employee motivation and engagement levels.

Recognition across Corporate Social Media

Acknowledging and appreciating the efforts and achievements of employees on various social media platforms has been gaining much popularity. With most employees having an active social media presence, such recognition can go a long way in enhancing their motivation levels besides improving their overall engagement with the organization. Most importantly, being recognized on such platforms fills the employees with a sense of pride and makes them feel more committed towards their organization.

Significance of Timely Employee Recognition

There is no denying the fact that organizations are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of employee recognition. This awareness has enabled them to take the necessary steps towards developing and implementing an effective recognition system. However, they still tend to overlook the significance of its most critical aspect, namely timely recognition. In fact, appreciating the efforts and achievements of employees in a timely manner is the key to establishing a self-motivated organization culture based on a successful, impactful and meaningful recognition program. The significance of timely recognition can be understood from the below-given reasons.

Closely link recognition to the action or event being recognized

Organizations often delay recognizing the desirable actions or behaviors of their employees until an end-of-year event or quarterly team/ department meetings. This often makes the whole exercise ineffective as most employees do not feel appreciated the same way if it were to be done immediately after the achievement. By recognizing the achievements in time, organizations can encourage the entire workforce to perform the actions that have helped their colleagues to earn the appreciation of their peers and superiors.

Encourages recipients to repeat behaviors

Failure to recognize employee efforts in time results in diminishing the impact for recipients and other employees. This is especially true for entry-level employees, who might still be struggling to establish themselves in the organization. This is a loss of opportunity to encourage similar behavior; it might even cause them to become demotivated.

Employee recognition needs to be done in the right way and in good time to get the desired results in terms of improved performance and higher engagement levels, which is why organizations need to adopt a policy of more effective and spontaneous recognition.

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!

How to Reward and Recognize Customer Service Employees?

How to Reward and Recognize Customer Service Employees?

Great customer experience is one of the key requirements for ensuring the success and growth of any business organization. In fact, it is not uncommon for individuals to shift their loyalties to an organization promising to offer better customer experience.   In order to create such an experience, it is important for companies to train and prepare their employees to be customer-centric. However, such training and preparation form only one aspect of ensuring customer satisfaction and happiness. A customer service organization be it a call center,  front-office or delivery function also needs to focus on enhancing the happiness and satisfaction level of its own employees to get the best results. Companies can no longer undermine the fact that the success of their business depends on an ongoing stream of happy customers, which in turn is determined by the happiness level of the employees.

How Employee Happiness Influences Customer Experience

A customer-centric approach does not just focus on efficient communication with customers through a call center or front office but is more about ensuring better brand experience and establishing long term relationships with them. In a customer service environment, the employees handle the responsibility of fostering such experiences and relationships. By empowering the employees and enhancing their engagement and satisfaction levels, companies can ensure a significant improvement in these experiences and relationships. It has been observed that happy employees tend to be self-motivated and work towards delivering better customer experiences. Their commitment and sense of loyalty towards the organizations is significantly enhanced and this is reflected through an increase in their efficiency.

Using Rewards and Recognition to reinforce Customer-Centricity

Just being aware of the critical role played by employees in delivering great customer experience is not enough for a business organization. Rather they need to take the necessary steps to reinforce customer-centric behavior by creating a customer-focused culture. The most important step to be taken in this direction is to integrate employee rewards into the company culture. At the same time, they need to avoid the common pitfalls that can render the reward and recognition program simply useless. In order to ensure the same, the business organization needs to ensure the following.

Focus on the Employee Behaviors that provide Desired Impact

While deciding about the most appropriate rewards and recognition options for employees, business organizations need to focus on identifying and promoting employee behaviors that ensure an enhanced customer experience. For this, they need to first determine the things that really matter to the customers through a thorough analysis of customer data, their preferences, and reviews. The information thus obtained can be then co-ordinated with the various behavioral attributes of employees to learn about the ones that provide the desired results. Having identified the most effective behavior that drives customer satisfaction, the organization should take the necessary steps towards employee motivation to promote this behavior.

Integrate Reward Systems with Customer Experience

Proper alignment of the reward system with employee incentives with respect to the customer experience they create, is essential to create a customer-centric culture. This might require slight modification in the criteria used for deciding formal rewards such as salaries, bonuses, and promotions. The awareness of the fact that being customer-centric can prove beneficial not only in terms of gaining recognition and appreciation but also for ensuring career growth can act as a great motivator. In addition, it also helps in maintaining the credibility of the reward system by ensuring that only the most deserving employees receive them.

Set up Informal Rewards to Encourage Customer Focus

Employee recognition holds greater value than monetary benefits for a large percentage of professionals working in a customer service environment.  Thus by setting up informal rewards, that can remind the employees of their achievements and glory – it tend to prove more effective than just cash rewards. The simple act of posting an image of the top-performing employees for a specific period in the workplace where it is easily visible to other employees and customers can boost the morale and efficiency of the employees quite significantly. In turn, it can create a sense of pride amongst the customers who might have interacted with these employees and strengthen their bond with the company.

Focus on ensuring Better Work-Life Balance

At the end of the day, all employees are individuals with a life outside their profession, which they cannot ignore. No amount of rewards and recognition can replace the happiness that employees gain by spending time with their family and friends. Thus by providing opportunities for a better work-life balance for their employees, companies can enhance their happiness quotient. Happy employees tend to be more attentive and sympathetic towards their customer needs and are more likely to make every effort to ensure their satisfaction and happiness.

A customer service environment can prove to be extremely stressful and exhausting for employees as it requires them to deal with people of diverse natures, opinions and patience levels. The challenge of keeping the employees working in such environments motivated and engaged can only be overcome with an effective reward and recognition program.

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

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.

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