Employee recognition and incentive programs help improve employee engagement, lift morale, and improve performance. Positive results, however, are not automatic. Many times programs are implemented for the right reasons, but fail because of various factors directly tied to program design and communication.
I was recently reminded of this through two separate encounters; one with a retail store clerk and another with a service company employee in my home. In both cases the interaction was less than desirable. Both exhibited a lack of enthusiasm for interaction with me (the customer!) and behaved with total complacency toward their jobs. Intrigued, I asked each if they were aware of any employee recognition or performance-based incentive programs offered to them.
One replied that her company had some type of employee recognition program but she was unfamiliar with its details. The other indicated that he was enrolled in an incentive program but was also unfamiliar with its goals and objectives, and thus did not pay any attention to it.
These two experiences illustrate how important program design and communication are as factors for success. It isn’t enough to implement a program (even for the right reasons) and call it good.
- Program design involves thoughtful and thorough consideration of the program’s purpose, its participants and parameters. Objectives must be measureable and obtainable.
- Communicating the program, its purpose (and its potential positive impact on the organization), and participants’ potential to earn exciting rewards is equally important. It won’t matter how well you construct the program if the target audience doesn’t understand or has never heard of its existence.
Properly designed, executed and communicated programs go a long way toward driving positive behaviors and empowering employees to feel wanted, recognized and appreciated.
One of my clients, a large transportation company, sought to implement a comprehensive employee recognition and safety program that would include all employees. Management personnel, drivers, mechanics, terminal and general office staff (a total of almost 9,000 employees) would be included in the program.
To gauge morale and solicit feedback, a company-wide survey was taken. The results were tabulated and used in the design of the new program. The program was designed with specific, measureable objectives and key performance indicators (KPI’s) were developed from them. The rollout timeline and implementation plan included a detailed communication plan; an extensive, internal marketing campaign.
- Objective goals were set based on job function
- Subjective indicators allowed individual employees to earn additional points
- Email and collateral material announced the program launch date and communicated the rewarding aspects of the program
When the program launched the entire company was on board and eager for success. The results were impressive, with over 90% participation. There was a 38% reduction in recordable accidents and a sizeable reduction in absenteeism. These two factors alone produced significant productivity gains.
When designing an employee recognition or incentive program, remember to plan carefully and communicate its purpose to everyone. Set measureable, obtainable goals and inform everyone as to their importance. Remind employees of their value to the organization and the benefits associated with positive performance.