Are reward and recognition programmes really worth their bother? They’ve played a leading role in many employee engagement strategies for decades, but it’s a question employers justly ask us every day.
These employers hear about R&R’s ability to increase retention, and, by extension, revenue. Although this is true in many cases, it’s a broad claim that’s unlikely to convince the more sceptical of CFOs (or even the less sceptical ones, for that matter).
The truth is that a decent reward and recognition programme is worth more than the sum of its parts: free coffees and cinema tickets make for a happy team, but perks are just the tip of the iceberg.
Because happy employees aren’t necessarily engaged employees – not in the context of retention rates and productivity levels, anyway. When we talk about R&R’s ability to have real financial impact, we’re referring to ROI and sensible things like data and measurement.
The nuts and bolts of reward and recognition
Put simply, reward and recognition programmes enable managers to reward and recognise their employees’ work. No surprises there. But these interaction can range from an official appraisal for reaching a milestone, to a hat-tip for a job well done.
In fact, the humble ‘thanks’ is one of the most powerful forms of recognition. Back one up with a tangible reward, memorable experience or bonus, and it’ll instill a long-lasting positive association to the organisation within the employee.
What’s also powerful is public recognition, which comes part and parcel of a good programme. Shout-outs for achievements are more effective when they’re open for all to see, whether through the company’s shared intranet system or in a newsletter.
Figuring out what fits your organisation is a good starting point. Learning what your people want to receive and how they want to receive it doesn’t have to be complicated, simply ask them through a survey.
We recently ran a survey of 2000 UK-based employees to find out what makes them tick – and what doesn’t. It found that over a third (35%) are cheesed off by poor communication in the office, while almost as many (32%) lamented the lack of reward and recognition for their work.
But here’s the big one (and the last stat we’ll offer): 66% said that regular personalised benefits – such as cost-saving perks and gym memberships – would be appreciated as recognition for their loyalty.
4 elements of successful reward and recognition programmes
The key is to align any R&R initiative with your organisation’s goals, that could mean improving skills or increasing retention. The cultural aspect will follow.
While noting there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, and that management fundamentals such as communication and mentoring come first, here are four elements to R&R that we find work well.
1. Instant recognition
Quarterly meetings (or worse, annual reviews) are stuffy ways to reward staff – not least because the smaller (yet important) achievements will likely be forgotten.
Instant feedback carries a ‘surprise and delight’ quality, and makes whatever the rewarded action, behaviour or task all the more likely to be repeated. In this instance, the element of personal progression outweighs material gain.
2. Leadership participation
People managers are the captains of companies; their words and opinions carry clout (more so than many realise). When they display gratitude and appreciation, the company listens and morale is boosted.
This doesn’t mean indiscriminate back-patting, it’s a about creating a positive top-down culture that makes employees feel like valued members of teams.
An employee who goes to lengths to cover for an absent colleague shouldn’t go unnoticed. Remember these initiatives exist to reward the behaviour that achieves business goals, even if it is in a small and incremental way.
What’s immediately noticeable, though, is the impact these gestures have on organisational culture. Never underestimate the power of ‘thank you’.
As mentioned earlier, two thirds of employees said they would appreciate personalised benefits as recognition for their work done. Clearly the idea of remuneration is being recast. Innovative R&R programmes are becoming one of the strongest ways for organisations to standout in a recruitment scenario.
What springs to mind when you hear the words Facebook and Google in the context of HR? Chances are it’ll be something out of the ordinary – and they are two of the most sought after gigs in town.
Download our whitepaper now to find out how reward and recognition can form an integral part of your employee engagement strategy.
- By Emily McMahon, at Perkbox
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