Archive for the 'employee awards' Category


spot recog

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.

 OTS_Recog Award_Card_left tilt

 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.

11 26th, 2013

Dec12 research gift cards

Thought we’d bring this research from late 2012 on what gifts that adults wanted for the holidays.

It’s a little dated, but parallels more current data we’ve seen from the incentive industry.  In light of all the discussion of late about employee engagement award platforms, we thought this would be helpful.  Since the founding of this blog, we have been stating that gift cards are the #1 award in the incentive industry, for the fundamental reason that it’s what people want.  That hasn’t changed.  And when it does, don’t worry,  gift cards competitors will tout that to the heavens.

In terms of what outlets these gift cards are for, this same IRF survey revealed that the largest number are for department stores at 39% followed by restaurants at 33%, bookstores at 21%, coffee shops at 18%, discount stores like Costco at 14%, grocery stores/gas stations at 13% and online retailers rounding it out at 11%.

It was interesting for us to note that when the traditional merchandise award supplier’s harangue on the main problem of using gift cards the main reasons is that they can be used for groceries and gasoline.  And they are right, but 87% of the time, they wrong!  Frankly it really shouldn’t make much difference to the incentive planner; the participant has to perform in order to receive the award.  There are some schools of thought that think you should let them have what they want anyway.  Who are we to determine those preferences?


We go a little “nutso” every time someone in the incentive/award industry uses the word “gift” when they mean an “award”.  If you are conveying a gift to someone, they didn’t have to do anything to get it, that’s why it’s a gift.  If you are presenting an award to someone, that person actually earned the right to receive that award.

Now let’s go a little deeper into the world of employee recognition and incentives.  Frankly there is a part of the incentive industry that has an “everyone should win the prize mentality,” which doesn’t make much sense. The prize should be presented to the winners of a competition in recognition of outstanding achievement.  We found this interview with Tom Coughlin, the coach of New York Giants, and his feelings on motivation to be very interesting.  His view is fairly simple.  People earn the right to win, just as employees in any recognition or incentive program have the opportunity to earn the right to win. The have to work for it.

Essentially Mr. Coughlin explains that motivation is a process that involves learning.  Most people inherently want to be the best they can be.  They want good managers who are interested in their performance and success, they want to be coached.  Most employees have pride in what they do.  To use that pride in the success of your organization, help your employees set realistic goals for achievement, and then show them how to attack those goals.

You can’t go anywhere in the Human Resources world without running into the discussion of employee engagement.  It’s the piece of their world that drives performance in the company.  But you can’t just expect engagement to exist without setting up the process to help the employees along the way.

When you do, the awards they receive will be received with the pride knowing that they Earned the Right to Win.

10 29th, 2013

Recog don't work

The cynics of the award industry come and go.  Alfie Kohn and Dan Pink wrote two of the bestselling books in the incentive industry, both anti incentives.  They created a contingent of believers and supporters who like an ideologues in any field have a difficulty in ever seeing the other side of the subjects.  Consider for a moment what Mr. Kohn claimed in his 1993 book…

“The bottom line is that any approach that offers a reward for better performance is destined to be ineffective.” And “the more closely we tie compensation (or other rewards) to performance, the more damage we do.” 

But let the academicians argue over science and other aspects of the award industry.  There are plenty of them who have positions opposite of our two famous authors mentioned above and have actually been a lot more scientific about it.

A highly respected one is Gerry Ledford ,PhD  a Senior Research Scientist at the Center for Effective Organizations, Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California. He received a Ph. D  and M.A. in Psychology from the University of Michigan and has authored over 100 articles and ten books and he frequently speaks at professional events.  Just as a comparison, Mr. Kohn was a high school teacher, and Mr. Pink was a political speechwriter turned author.

As discussed in this article from The Compensation Café, scientific research on awards is quite different than what Pink and Kohn suggest.  Some highlights from this article include:

  • Monetary incentives generally do lead to increased performance.
  • Extrinsic awards actually can increase intrinsic motivation
  • Rewards have no negative effect on intrinsic motivation

So the next time a naysayer expounds on why award programs don’t work, hand them this post and tell them if they do want information on the other side of the issue  to review the posts referenced here.  The incentive and awards industry is alive, still thriving and still producing results for thousands of companies.  Why?  Well in a word because these programs produce results.  If they didn’t we wouldn’t have them.  It’s just that simple.

09 24th, 2013


Research by Bersin & Associates shows the impact of employee recognition on the bottom line.  As we’ve seen with other research on the subject, successful companies use recognition to motivate the performance of their associates and drive strong business performance and accountability.

In the yearlong study Bersin showed that employee recognition can produce some surprising results.  After defining and measuring what a “high recognition company” was, they concluded that those companies dramatically outperform like organizations by 12 times in a wide range of business outcomes.   In addition those companies had 30% lower voluntary employee turnover which equates to millions of dollars in savings for those corporations.

These “high recognition companies” structure recognition systems that allow peers to “thank and provide feedback to peers,” not just use managers to do it.  By giving employees open access to the program everyone can see who is being recognized and for what.  They can create an entire organization of previously unsung heroes to get the credit they deserve.  As this form of recognition creates positive reactions from both the giver and receiver, it makes everyone happier and more productive.

Simply saying ‘Thank You’ is a management tool that has been around for years, allowing the front line employees to do it by themselves is a relatively new phenomenon in business, but one that has proven its worth.  Take a look at what a very successful CEO, Robert Eckert, retired CEO and Chairman of Mattel had to say about ‘Thank You’ and how it affected his career.

Recognition works; it will drive bottom line results and achieve a wide range of business objectives.  If you haven’t made peer to peer “thank yous” as a part of your overall effort, you’re probably missing some big opportunities.

By the way, in the spirit of shameless advertising, the Award of Choice makes a perfect award for peer to peer programs….they are easy to administer, cost effective and exactly what your employees want.