Over the years we have seen companies ascribe many different objectives to employee recognition or incentive programs. The programs that work well and produce results all have one thing in common….objectives that can be achieved by the participants in the program. Here are some of things to consider when planning your next incentive or recognition effort:
- They can concentrate attention on your top company priorities
- They are first and foremost great communication tools that guide employees to what they individually can do to achieve results
- They will allow you to share the company success with the employees. ..they earn a part of what they help create.
- They can help to break down barriers between departments and divisions encouraging teamwork and creating a synergy for higher performance
- They will foster employee development in new skills and qualities necessary for future growth.
These certainly aren’t the only things that a recognition or incentive program can achieve, but in your planning phase, it’s very important to consider these points. They can be very powerful when you use them well, but even more powerful with negative consequences when you don’t.
Incentive and recognition programs can and will backfire when you aren’t honest about your current situation, business climate or culture. When you implement your program, objectives that make upper management warm and fuzzy won’t produce results unless your participants know that they are realistic and achievable. Without that, you won’t have a program, so save the money, and the headache.
When is the last time you meant to tell an employee, “thanks for the great effort, we really appreciate your good work”, but forgot. You think to yourself that you can tell them later in the day or tomorrow, or by the end of the week. If you’re like most of us, that can happen a lot. And by the time you get around to it the enthusiasm is faded and the importance is gone. When you do, you lose the golden opportunity to affect an employee’s attitude and performance at work.
That’s one reason why an on the spot employee recognition system is so important. You can award someone instantly when it will do the most good. Waiting for traditional recognition award systems to kick in doesn’t reinforce the pride an employee feels right after you acknowledge the great performance. If anything it can show them that their work went unnoticed and wasn’t a top priority for you.
It is well known that good performance will be repeated when recognized. The more that an employee sees that you appreciate their efforts, the more they will continue to produce quality work.
On the spot rewards can also boost morale. They can spread like wild fire in the workplace, especially in an environment where today’s employees feel under appreciated.
The On The Spot gift card award system was developed for just these type of programs. For a simple white paper that will give you a brief overview of On The Spot, please click here.
All the hard decisions that had to be made by management because of the recession still shape the employees definition of what normal really is. Companies are still dealing with an attitude of getting by with less, spending only when necessary. Management is wondering why or even if they should invest in employee recognition systems. Coming out of the last major recession, these types of attitudes persisted for several years.
But employee recognition still matters. It is still a key element in employee engagement and can help drive increased employee performance. HR thought leaders understand this and are focusing this investment in recognition to increase the impact on the bottom line. Suggestions systems designed to reduce overall costs, wellness efforts that have shown to reduce medical costs, safety award systems that can reduce incidents of injuries and accidents, and team based sales and marketing efforts that combine internal support groups and field personnel are all tactics to drive incremental profits.
Now is the time to use employee awards to promote collaboration within cross-functional departments. Properly planned and implemented reward systems can put your employees back on the offense instead of staying on defense to protect their jobs. Employee recognition systems can be designed and promoted around encouraging idea creation, innovation and sharing. They can align corporate goals and objectives into the goals and objectives of your employees.
So start your year off right. Dust off the recognition system that may have been put on the shelf or gathering dust because of lack of budgets. If you have some money to spend, you might even want to give each employee a $25 Award of Choice card and thank them for all the time and effort they put in while you were going through tougher times. You might be amazed at how that simple gesture can strike a spark that ignites a fire of optimism.
We’ve written many posts on employee recognition, how to do it, why it fails, how to make it successful, why you should do it, when you should do it etc., etc., etc.
It’s hard to look at a HR publication that doesn’t speak of employee recognition and the positive effects it has on employee engagement. There also seems to be a study a week on the same subject. There are even some people in the awards industry that feel employee recognition and employee engagement should be synonymous. With so much being said about it, why would we even ask the question “Is Employee Recognition Scarce?” Simply because in many places it still is.
The single most used recognition system today is the ubiquitous years of service program where we recognize an employee’s longevity with the company. These programs can be traced back to the beginning of the 20th century, and they are still going strong. They are the easiest to implement, and frankly they don’t take much involvement from the management.
Does your management really believe in employee recognition? Are they as involved as they were in the beginning (if they were)? Do they take the time to do it and do they do it right, or do you have to remind them all along the way? Have your recognition efforts turned into employee complaining, jealously or dissatisfaction? Does your management know how to provide recognition, or have they had bad experiences when they do?
It’s that time of the year to do an inventory of your recognition program and ask these tough questions. Or, ask around your organization and see what your people really think. Or, take a quick analysis of your program and see how many of your employees were truly recognized for their performance this year, and what they received for it. What % of your employees do you think should be recognized on an annual basis? If you are recognizing less than 40%, does that mean that 60% of your employees don’t deserve it?
In the end, you are the judge of whether or not you think that employee recognition is scarce.
‘Nobody motivates today’s workers. If it doesn’t come from within, it doesn’t come. Fun helps remove the barriers that allow people to motivate themselves.’, Herman Cain. Founder Godfather Pizza
According to Alan Fairweather, an International speaker and successful author and purveyor of employee motivation as the “Motivation Doc”:
“The number 1 motivator for people at work is – the work itself. Not money as many people still think it is, or even recognition. In all the surveys that have been done over the years with employees, this is the most important motivator that comes up every time. It doesn’t matter in what country the research is done or the industry, they results are always the same.”
Employees will be highly motivated and engaged if they think their jobs are meaningful and important to the success of the company. They will be motivated if their job is interesting and they like what they do. So the simple answer on how to motivate the workforce is to make the jobs important to the individual.
Obviously this a bit more complex than just making someone’s job interesting, but it’s not a bad place to start. Most individuals in the workplace can and will motivate themselves to positive performance, but there will always be degrees of that. To get the majority of the employee base to move up the performance scale will take more a bit more effort.
As stated in the post, you might want to try other practical steps to make the job more meaningful such as varying the tasks they actually perform, give them more responsibility, ask them to assist co-workers, to occasionally attend management meetings, and provide further training. And when all that works, make sure you recognize them for efforts.