How to Run an Employee Rewards and Recognition Program

Employee Recognition – Why it matters

Workplace culture is no longer just a buzzword heard around the office cooler, and if it still is at your company that needs to change. An organisation’s culture should be a significant part of its genetic code, its intrinsic matter, that is part of its internal and external identity, intertwined with its mission, values, and brand. Culture should affect the way you walk and talk, but most importantly, the way you act and engage.

Defining ‘workplace culture’

Workplace from Facebook defines company culture as its ‘values,’ ‘behaviours,’ ‘attitudes’, ‘customs and traditions,’ among other things, but it is also “how it feels to be at work.” There are other definitions associated with it, such as personality, style, spirit, character, identity and social design. Many attributes can fall within a cultural construct.

Determining the need for employee recognition

However complicated ‘workplace culture’ is to define, it should be clear why acknowledging and rewarding an employee’s efforts are important to the culture and the employee. If you turn the situation around and imagine what you would expect, the answer is crystal. Everyone needs recognition whether you are a worker or the boss.

▸ Appreciation. Anyone who doesn’t receive gratitude for their loyalty and hard work, even if it’s felt by management, eventually will become raw and disheartened by, apathetic toward, or disgruntled with their employer if efforts continually go unrecognised. This might cause loss of personal pride and motivation for their organisation which will have a damning, knock- on effect on the business, eventually affecting productivity and the bottom line, not to mention office morale, retention rates and brand reputation.

Receiving a simple thank-you is nice to hear, and it feels extra warm and fuzzy when a token gesture is added to it in the form of a personal reward, which demonstrates, ‘We recognise and appreciate your good work, and we made the effort to show you with this gift.’

But what is the perfect token of thanks? Does it reflect the words said and the work done? Is the gift usable or likeable? It can be so hard to choose a suitable something or even a gift range that is one-size-fits-all (or most) and an improbable-to-impossible task to shop individually for each employee at the office if your organisation is bigger than a ‘mom and pops’ operation.

If the company’s recognition programme is going to be successful, it needs to have a personal touch. Otherwise, resources will be wasted, and people will become dismayed or even resentful.

For the employee

Ultimately, individuals are why recognition is such an important step in solidifying your ideal workplace and brand, your culture and your reputation. One statement too often associated with business is that it is not personal. We say, ‘That’s nonsense!’ Business will always have a personal side because humans are not robots, even if some try to act robotically. Think of humanity. Feelings will always play a part in the human condition; therefore, the created experience in business should have emotive and empathetic elements built into its engagement policy.

Because how can you achieve even satisfactory engagement without connecting emotionally to the subject in some way? Here’s the thing about rewarding your employees with a top-notch recognition programme, it not only makes people happy while at work, but it also goes home with them at the end of the day, and the experience, and possibly the gift, may be shared with others, filtering positive brand recognition through social networks as well, e.g., word of mouth to friends and family face to face or through social media channels.

This may read like an opinion, but it is more than that.

“Employees who feel they’re part of a community rather than a cog in a wheel are more likely to stay with an organization.”

For the employer

▸ The 2021 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends study ranks wellbeing as the most important factor, with 80% of team and company leads acknowledging its significance to “success” ▸ For engagement and retention, Generation Z workers value a positively cultured company as recognising its contributing members and are 16 times more likely to stay on.

▸ According to CBI research, 69% of the UK “believe that treating staff well is the most effective way to improve business reputation.” Furthermore, CBI Director-General Carolyn Fairbairn stated (17 May 2019) that “improving the management practices could be a massive £110 billion injected into our economy.”

Now, let’s look at the impact of numbers and facts and consider the question, ‘Why is employee recognition important to the organisation?’ Should you have to thank an employee for doing their job?

Workplace retention and satisfaction have statistical correlations with reward and recognition. A company’s culture should incorporate a sense of acceptance and inclusion and put their employees’ well-being as priority number one.

The benefits of low staff retention levels, increased absenteeism, stress, negative morale, non- productivity, and the overall decline of an organisation far outweigh the minimal costs of a rewards programme.

A GoRemotely blog asserts: ▸ Staff turnover costs the US alone over $1tn annually ▸ Trust in ‘the man’ – approximately 90% who received recognition had more faith in their boss because of it ▸ Showing up for work – 27% less absenteeism with frequent (weekly) recognition is experienced when employees want to go to work.

Other issues to consider among the workforce is active disengagement and presenteeism. Being present in the moment while doing work is less achievable if employees feel undervalued.

** “When it comes to rare talent, ‘voluntary turnover’ is simply a nice way of saying, ‘You just lost the future.’ ” Shane McFeely and Ben Wigert for Gallup**

The snowball effect

Perhaps your organisation puts the customer first always, and sometimes that means your employees have to take one for the team. But if you fail to recognise your employees’ worth to the company, the culture crumbles, team morale tanks, productivity plummets, and profits plunge. The way your company is run internally and its internal value system affects the external value and, therefore, impacts the customer too. Caring for your people protects your business overall, and there are many great ways to show your appreciation and support through engagement.

Productivity relies on more than being physically present at work. Another Workplace article reveals that satisfied employees lead productivity by 12 per cent. Being actively engaged is an effect of job happiness. 58 per cent of survey respondents say receiving recognition will increase engagement. Without recognition. The savings from not buying into employee recognition rewards pale in comparison to the costs of staff turnover and other internal damage from a disgruntled workforce.

According to Gallup, in 2019 the voluntary staff turnover cost over $1tn in the United States alone. The article also sets the recruitment cost range from one- half to two times (and often more than) the employee’s annual salary. Gallup estimated that a company with 100 staff members with an average $50k salary could be looking at a staff replacement bill ranging from $660k–$2.6m per year.

Another study discloses that 79 per cent of employees exiting their jobs claim the reason is ‘lack of appreciation.’ When your workforce walks out the door, so do other resources, e.g. knowledge, skills, relationship networks, and potential.

Why take the risk when it is preventable? Gallup also claims 52 per cent of voluntary exits can be avoided by a manager or the company taking an active interest in prevention. To rephrase, if you as a manager/business owner actively engage with your employees, you can prevent them from leaving. That is one for the exit strategy – when employees get what they need, they stick around.

According to a GoRemotely blog of employee recognition rewards statistics for 2021, drawing from sources such as Forbes, Gallup, Deloitte and Harvard Business Review, the employee recognition global market is a revenue racket worth US$46bn annually. With 1-2 per cent of the payroll budget currently going toward recognition and rewards, the total market spend demonstrates just how many companies worldwide believe it is a necessary strategy in which to invest.

However, with 83% of enterprises still polling that they aren’t getting the right balance to counteract recognition neglect, it’s evident the market share will need to shift and grow exponentially to master this ongoing dilemma that is crippling the potential for many an organisation.

Other statistics noted are:

▸ 52% of employees say recognition may increase engagement ▸ 40% believe recognition leads to more work achieved and, therefore, increased productivity ▸ 36% say peer-to-peer recognition, not just a quiet word from managers, yields more financial benefit which suggests that celebrating wins publicly, shared with the whole team, is the way forward ▸ 59% want to work for companies with an outwardly appreciative culture that celebrates employee wins even more than they want to work for companies offering larger salaries.

The last statistic shows that ‘pay out’ takes on different forms. It isn’t all about making bank or physical perks. Statistically, 85 per cent of employees are happy to be thanked for their achievements, and 18-29 year- olds prefer to be awarded personal quality time over concrete gifting.

The top 20 per cent of companies leading with a ‘recognition-rich’ cultural environment, experience 31 per cent less voluntary attrition.

Workplaces that do culture well

The role models to emulate are the workplaces that get their strategic cultural blend right. Which corporations are achieving the gold standard? What is the ‘how’ and ‘why’ behind their success? What makes a good workplace? How many of them are so ranked for their care of employees and workplace rewards programmes?

In the same order, these five companies also are ranked as having the best company cultures. Also listed within the top 20 are Microsoft, Qualtrics Facebook, Apple, and Trimble. Comments made about some of these companies through employee feedback relate that these cultures are dynamic, “always evolving” and looking to “improve,” cultivating trust, and putting the “focus” on the employees, “keeping an amazing culture”, and having a “big heart for its employees.”

Forbes also reports on Glassdoor’s 13th Annual ‘Employees’ Choice Awards’ for 2021, a voluntary and anonymous survey. The survey predominantly polls the U.S., but it also captures the top spot outside the U.S for the following countries:

On engagement in the workforce, Forbes Contributor Luciana Paulise writes, “It is no longer a nice-to-have, given that studies confirm that employee engagement is a predictor of organizational outcome.”

Toolbox HR blog says that Apple rewards its employees with extra paid leave for a job well done. In the U.S., 3-day Thanksgiving breaks were given instead of the traditional single vacation day, and Apple offered its internationally located employees alternate days off coinciding with their national holiday calendar. And Zappos, as part of its engagement scheme, distributes “Zappos Dollars” within the company for at- work training and volunteering. These can be redeemed within the company or donated to a partnered charity.

Forbes lists survey firm Comparably’s ‘Top 5 Large Companies’ to work for in 2020, and they are: ▸ Google ▸ Adobe ▸ HubSpot ▸ Zoom ▸ RingCentral “The employee experience is now as important as the customer experience.” Luciana Paulise for Forbes

Meet the solution: The onecode

The onecode is a digital code you receive or can send to another, e.g., an employee, with a pre-loaded value to exchange for a tangible product or service experience that comes with many benefits for both the giver and receiver of this e-gift. If you like to present something tangible, physical gift cards can be sent out too. Along with the voucher, an exclusive site is made for you with the option to shop from a range of gifts or branded gift cards to your favourite store. Or, you can save it into a digital wallet and have the option to top it up for a more expensive treat later.

It is a gift anyone can use because it is versatile and customisable. With corporates and the individual in mind, onecode is the answer for employee and customer reward schemes and incentives programmes because it can be a one-off reward or used for incremental rewards. And as digital immediacy is the global expectation, and the way of life now and into the foreseeable future, onecode ticks this box too, making it adaptable, universal, and suitable for anyone shopping at a high street boutique, online for specialty products, or everyday needs.

Like the concept of Zappos dollars, onecode can be used for in-house rewards and has many benefits that make the decision so much easier. Onecode takes out the guesswork, or rather the research into each staff member and having to cater to the myriad individual tastes that are inevitable. Onecode simplifies the process by offering you and your employees choice, as many choices as you want.

Take onecode and purchase a voucher for the store, product, or service of your choice. It can be delivered digitally and is virtually instantaneous. You don’t have to worry about picking a one-size-fits-all gift or just buy into one company’s gift catalogue. And logistics is not a problem with a digital code that is deliverable automatically to the recipient’s inbox.

How onecode is better

With onecode, you can sort your employee recognition and rewards gifts in one fell swoop. But that is not all it can do. It will also cover your: ▸ Holiday gifting ▸ Corporate gifts (not branded giveaways) ▸ Any business-related gifting ▸ Customer recognition and loyalty programmes ▸ Gift cards and e-vouchers

Onecode provides such a massive scope. There’s no need to have a storage closet of gifts and giveaways. No need for mass shipping/post/courier deliveries or bulk giveaway at one event (e.g. the ‘Christmas Do’) that inevitably a percentage of people will be unable to attend (e.g. early holiday leave, sickness, etc.). Furthermore, a successful rewards scheme promotes individual choice and is not limited by a pre-chosen catalogue of products and services, but offers products and services the individual will want and use.

It even provides an online or physical shopping experience for those who want it. Facebook’s Workplace article endorses the idea of an employee recognition platform and transparency for progression through active management and the understanding that people are the “greatest asset.”

In conclusion

Workplaces that fail to implement appropriate rewards programmes don’t do recognition right and don’t develop the organisation’s culture well. Perhaps this is because there are so many considerations to make when choosing the best scheme provider. And it takes a lot of effort to generate a successful buy-in from employees. Or, perhaps funds are tight and a rewards scheme isn’t a top priority.

But, if the latter is the reason, then the company is in jeopardy of implying their people aren’t a top priority. Companies without recognition schemes hinder their success. They wouldn’t treat their customers without consideration and care, would they? They wouldn’t want to imply customers aren’t their top priority.

Company culture should not be left to develop organically; it should be a deliberate construct and part of the organisation’s master plan. And actually, such companies end up failing themselves and their employees, and they miss an invaluable opportunity to cultivate their culture the way they want it to be. What suffers as a result? Engagement, satisfaction, and retention.

Ultimately, the bottom line and the whole company and brand suffers. But this miserable outcome is avoidable by duly recognising your workforce with onecode digital vouchers, the useful and desirable engagement scheme for all types of businesses that can be used as a one-off gift or built up incrementally for bigger staff and client rewards.

More Articles