What are the benefits of an employee rewards and recognition program?

The management of any organization where employee rewards and recognition program has been implemented will always keep asking whether the program is delivering benefits. The management would typically want to see some tangible benefits to justify the continued funding of the program. Hence it is important for the HR team to demonstrate these program benefits on a continuous basis.

At HiFives, we have had long and deep engagement with our clients for their employee rewards and recognition programs. Based on this experience, we would like to list out a few of the benefits that should be aimed for or provided by employee rewards and recognition program in organizations:

  1. Employee performance and business impact

Done in the right way, employee rewards and recognition can reinforce good performance by employees, which would have a direct or indirect impact on business metrics such as revenues, costs, customer satisfaction, etc. For example, an employee who gets an award for achieving high levels of customer satisfaction is more often than not likely to continue to perform at the same or higher level. It might also motivate his peers to demonstrate higher levels of performance. The same would be true for an employee who is being recognized for cutting costs or driving innovation.

  1. Employee behaviour linked to company values

If executed well, employee rewards and recognition programs can deliver desired behaviour from employees in sync with the organization’s core values and beliefs such as ethics, commitment, customer centricity, passion or collaboration. For example, an employee who has worked on an important project to meet a critical deadline might be eligible for an award under the category of commitment. Another one could be that of an employee who might have resisted attempts by a third-party to secure a contract by trying to offer ‘personal incentives’ to the employee. In both these examples, the behaviour and the outcomes should be kept separate.

  1. Driving specific behaviours and outcomes

The organization can drive specific behaviours such as innovation, process efficiency, punctuality, social awareness, etc. through employee rewards and recognition programs.  For example, employees can be incentivized for good suggestions on process improvement. Another example could be of recognizing an employee who has participated in a social initiative or sporting event outside the organization.  It is difficult to incentivize such behaviours through the traditional performance assessment and regular compensation system. Hence employee rewards and recognition could be a useful tool in the HR team’s toolkit to drive such behaviours.

  1. Employee motivation and camaraderie

Employee rewards and recognition can help create a positive atmosphere of celebration within the organization. It can help foster individual-level motivation and overall team spirit. Open recognition of employee achievements can go a long way in building a great culture of appreciation of each other’s efforts.

Overall, employee rewards and recognition program that is well designed and well executed can provide significant dividends to the organization to justify the investments made into the program by the management. However, it is important to keep these objectives in mind while the program is being designed and implemented without any ambiguity. Otherwise, it will also end up as yet another HR initiative without clearly articulated benefits and well-defined ROI.

 

by HiFives Team

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

 

 

 

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

Rewarding under performers for one-off achievements – does it make sense?

This is one dilemma that many line managers and HR Partners face ; whether to reward an under performer for a significant achievement, as part of the employee rewards and recognition program. In most cases, the Rewards and Recognition Policies might not state anything explicitly, leaving it to the better judgement of the concerned managers.

An important point to note here is that consistent under performers might rarely be around in the system since the performance assessment process would take care of that. Hence, under performance might be a temporary phase or it could be just relative. And more than other employees, these employees need more motivation.

Managers often tend to use all available resources to motivate their employees. This might result in managers tending to ignore the under performers and focusing on the top performers when it comes to rewards and recognition. Hence a truly deserving employee might miss out on a spot award for a significant achievement, due to his or her overall performance history.

Not only is this unfair, but counterproductive as well. The manager might be missing out on an important opportunity to motivate an under performer and putting him or her back on track. Whereas a top performer, who might not truly deserve the award, might actually get it and this might cause any significant change in their motivation levels.

Hence it is our recommendation that awards especially those in the category of spot awards should be given based on the immediate achievements and not the overall track record of the employees. Awards should be treated as awards and not as proxies for the performance assessment process!

HiFives Employee Rewards and Recognition

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

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

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