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3 Things “Best Companies” Do to Maximize Their Employee Recognition Programs

December 5, 2017
| ByMike Ryan

Smart companies are constantly assessing their practices against others. They are always looking for useful comparisons, emerging patterns and other data trends that can help them determine whether or not they are ahead of (or behind) the curve.  

Employee recognition program managers are no different. With an estimated 84% of all businesses using non-cash rewards, its incumbent upon them to make certain they are applying and managing those resources effectively. Here are 3 things the best companies do to maximize the impact of their employee recognition programs.

1/ They secure executive support

At the best performing companies (i.e. businesses in the top percentiles of revenue production, customer satisfaction and employee retention) senior level executives enthusiastically support the utilization of non-cash rewards and recognition.

How deep do those commitments go? Ninety three percent say they not only deploy non-cash rewards and recognition, they consider it a competitive advantage against the competition.

Senior level support has obvious advantages; it expedites approvals, it frees up funding and it helps the organization as a whole buy into the program’s purpose. If you are running short in the “support” category try tapping into the vast array of research and business commentary that speaks to the business advantages of non-cash rewards. Take a nuanced approach here and tailor those findings against your business goals. That will not only help you make a clear and compelling case for non-cash rewards, it will give you more credibility within the c-suite.    

2/ They recognize both “core” and “non-core” job activities

Whether you’re preparing a better business case for non-cash rewards, or simply exploring the most effective utilization ideas, you should know that progressive companies reward against “core” and “non-core” job activities.

Cash compensation is almost always geared to primary measures and performance outcomes. But it does have limitations. It doesn’t effectively address the variable nature of “non-core” activities; activities that help employees grow and companies prosper. Using non-cash to address both is considered a best practice.

Non-cash is as effective across an employee’s primary duties and responsibilities (performed either individually or in concert with others) as it is across non-core activities. Non-core job functions can include working on project teams, mentoring or training others, becoming certified in new skills or technologies or conducting yourself like a true brand ambassador.    

3/ They target each and every employee

Employee recognition programs are the most prevalent type of reward programs across businesses right now. With so much at stake, it’s important that companies structure them to reach and motivate every employee that’s working for them. As you think about expanding the impact of your employee recognition strategy, it’s helpful to break down the thought process into two dimensions: applicability and accessibility

“Applicability” gets (and keeps) an employee’s attention. The objectives they are given correspond to their core and non-core roles within the company (and their ambitions there). Are your performance measures targeted, specific and relatable? Are they tied to outcomes the employee can control, and are you encouraging them to expand their capabilities?

“Accessibility” is equally important. It’s what drives participation. Is your program built for the modern, highly- mobile work force? Can they access it from anywhere at any time? If the answers are “no” the program is certain to become underutilized.

If you are doing each of these things well, than good for you. If not, don’t despair. As you (and your company) make plans for 2018, there is still time to take corrective action and implement the types of improvements that will make your company a “best company” too.

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