Tips for Effective Employee Recognition and Reward Programs

Recognition is defined as a form of sincere praise or appreciation given to an individual by another and reward as the earned item of value presented to an individual for successful accomplishment of a particular service, task or mission. Recognition and reward programs has always been an effective strategy for retaining employees and it normally do not cost much and not very time-consuming. Informal recognition and reward program can recognize outstanding performance rather quickly while formal program develops the performance growth in a long term basis. Well planned recognition and reward programs builds comradeship within the team and makes employees feel valued and appreciated. Employees want to feel appreciated and seldom will they find compliments a surplus.

Effective recognition and reward programs recognizes and appreciates the efforts of individuals while taking into account their individual needs, differences and personalities. As a leader, do not assume that the approach of one-size-fits-all works for every companies or divisions. Before planning a recognition and reward program, it is essential to find out what motivates the team members. One of the methods is to develop an Individual Retention Profile. The collection of the profiles will help understand the preferences of people working for you or with you. The ultimate method of adapting an effective program is to let the staffs choose the rewards they wish to receive for achieving a goal. Getting rewards wrong almost always produces expensive and unwanted results. Another aspect is the variety of the program. Continuous upgrade or varying the activities can make the program interesting and captivating to the staffs to perform better. One example is to change the theme of the challenge rewards every quarterly. They may vary from spa parties to cooking lessons with famous celebrity chefs.

There are two forms of motivation; intrinsic and extrinsic. An effective program consists of both intrinsic and extrinsic motivational tools. Intrinsic motivation belongs to the highest form of motivation. They are basic, essential, comes from the heart, soul and mind. People who are intrinsically motivated do what they are supposed to do with little or no external pressure or influence. Extrinsic motivation is inessential and appears to be a kind of bribe. It is also being described as a ‘carrot and stick’ approach. To retain the best talents, the organization needs to offer competitive pay and benefits. However, praise over cash when it comes to retaining the best and brightest. People have a basic human need to feel appreciated and recognition programs help meet that need. Prestigious awards that outline the organizational objectives often spur them to strive to the best they can offer. However, not all people will react positively to this type of approach. Staffs whom are intrinsically motivated and have good attitudes normally are motivated simply by good conducive working environment. To them, extrinsic incentive may be just a gimmick.

One of the most important aspects in implementing an effective recognition and rewards program is the involvement of good leadership. Leadership is the compass that keeps people focus and heading in the right direction. A good leader will remove barriers and obstacles and create opportunities to exploit the employees’ potential to its best. If leadership is absent, any amount of cash, incentives or awards will not replace or make up for all the wrong things at the wrong timing. It is natural to promote your best and brightest, especially when you think they may leave for greener pastures if you do not continually offer them new challenges and rewards.

The Development of an Effective Recognition and Reward Program

To develop an effective recognition and reward program, the first step is to understand and comprehend the goals and objectives of the organization. For an effective recognition and reward program to implement and apply onto the pool of talents within the organization, careful considerations and planning have to be well-thought of.

Below are the steps in developing an effective recognition and rewards program:

  1. Focus on the desired behavior or goals of the program: Begin with a clear and concise goal, such as improved attendance, loyalty or response time. Ensure that the goals are specific, simple, quantifiable, measurable and obtainable. Highly challenged goals will only complicate things and result in unbelievable outcomes. The goals set out need to be fair and reachable for the target group.
  2. Select an implementation team: Appoint and gather a group of employees to obtain recommendations from the people who will be affected by the recognition effort. Whenever necessary, engage outside experts for advice. Implement by letting the team members set the goals, determine the performance factors and report any obstacles to improvement. It is also useful to appoint one coordinator for each division, depending on the size of the organization, to provide support and information directly to the team.
  3. Outline a strategy: Build and decide on the methodology to be used in this program. Prepare a master program and outline the schedule for the groundwork. Focus on the target group of people involved in this program. Allow adequate planning time and create a specific implementation schedule. Ensure that there is sufficient time to achieve the desired objectives and write down the rules to avoid misunderstandings.
  4. Select the type of recognition or reward: Select the rewards from a variety of resources available. It is important that the awards be perceived as being the effort required from the eligible participants. Spend time on the selection of awards with the target group and work within the stipulated budget. It would be a better strategy if the winners can select from a range of prizes.
  5. Develop a communication strategy: The communication strategy is the most important yet usually the most overlooked step in the process. Poor communication can lead to distortion and misunderstandings between the said objectives and the meanings set in this program.
  6. Implement the program: Kick off the program by getting maximum participation of the target group. Involvement and commitment from the management is critical and it is important to have the top management to convey and introduce the program because communication put across by them normally possesses a certain weightage and influence.
  7. Create a meaningful presentation strategy: A presentation strategy is critical to the program’s overall success. The program has to be presented in a manner that it shows appreciation to the awardees and to encourage others to strive for the award. It is important to tell the employees how significant their efforts are to the organization and that their efforts are valued.
  8. Improve the program: The team shall continue to evaluate and collect feedback’s from the awardees and coordinators on how to improve the program. Determine whether the program has achieved its objectives and learn from past mistakes. Write an evaluation plan and begin planning for the next program.

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