We are entering an age where the line between recognition and incentives is blurred. No, we are not entering into a Twilight Zone, but you do need to unlock this door with your imagination, to quote the television series.
At Awards Network, we define a recognition program as a situation where an organization has a single reason to reward employees at a single point in time. Service award programs are recognition programs as employers reward an employee with a milestone anniversary on or around the anniversary date. In this kind of award program, an employee is presented with a recognition award package or recognition email and asked to order a single gift.
Alternatively, we define an incentive program as a situation where an organization has one or more reasons to reward employees over time, on an ongoing basis. Safety award programs are incentive programs as employers reward workers who have achieved a safety goal or multiple safety goals on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis. In this type of award program, employees are given points for the recognition they receive and the points can be spent on a reward or saved and accrued over time.
These definitions have been put to the test in the past year as many companies not only want to reward employees for reaching milestone anniversaries, they also want to recognize employees for outstanding customer or client service, achieving wellness or safety objectives and reaching work related goals. Additionally, employers are setting up programs where employees can be recognized by peers, managers, subordinates and clients/customers. Not only can recognition be given for a whole host of reasons but also from 360°. Although the mission of these award programs is recognizing employees, the program is really incentive-based. I re-thought the terminology we use and decided to combine the definitions of recognition and incentives to form a new program type that I am calling “total recognition award programs”.
For organizations looking to start a total recognition program, often an online-based solution is a flexible enough option to encompass what the company is trying to accomplish. Recognition websites allow employees to access the program from anywhere, anytime. Also recognition websites can automatically email participant feedback and suggestions for improvement to the company for review.
Many of the contacts I have at organizations are very creative people and come to me with a variety of things they would like to include in their total recognition award program. One of my clients worked with me to design emails that are sent to employees on their birthday or anniversary to recognize these events and also notify them that points have been added to their online recognition account. The emails are very colorful and are personalized for each employee. A different client of mine requested that I design a leader board for each of the 5 goals in their program so that employees can log in and find out the top 5 employees who have received the most points in each goal category. The leader board not only recognizes top performing employees, it also instigates friendly competition among employees participating in the recognition program.
While there is no perfect way to provide employee recognition, by combining the capabilities of recognition websites with the creativity of individuals in the organization, the possibilities of total recognition award programs are limitless.