Reward & Recognition: Perfect way to say, you are our rockstar



Mention an employee rewards and recognition programme and terms such as performance bonus, ESOPs, financial incentives and gift vouchers rush to the mind.

As organizations compete to build & retain their most prized asset – their people – Reward and Recognition (R&R) programs are crucial to motivate employees and enhance job satisfaction. Whatever name or form it takes, there has never been more of a focus on R&R than today.

Though financial incentives are an important component of R&R initiatives, they are not the only one. Instead organisations are recognising high-performers through personal, unique and creative incentives that are built around everyday experiences at their jobs and memorable moments at the workplace. As more & more employers look beyond financial incentives & annual conferences, it’s time to create awards that institutionalise corporate culture, deliver the instant high of a job well done and build an emotional connect with employees.

As organizations are discovering, all it takes is some out-of-the-box thinking around R&R to capitalise on everyday achievements and energise employees.

Real time awards work: It’s always a good idea to instantly reward team members rather than to wait for a formal announcement or end-of-year review. The employee will surely be rewarded through the regular HR process in the due course of time but by then the adrenalin rush that comes with sky-high achievement could be over. Delayed appreciation can also lead to a sense of dissatisfaction and demotivation for an employee. The solution: recognize employees through a tangible award in real time, reinforcing their belief in the organisation and creating a sense of belonging and pride.

Golden Banana Award Story
Hewlett-Packard’s Golden Banana Award is a prestigious award for inventive employees at HP. Here’s how the story behind this reward goes. A company engineer once rushed into his manager’s office with the solution for a problem that the division had been struggling with for several weeks. The manager was delighted by the initiative shown by the employee and wanted to reward him at that moment itself. He searched his office and finding only a leftover banana, handed it over to the engineer and said, “Well done! Congratulations!” The Golden Banana Award went on to be institutionalised, but it still retains its spontaneity and value as the ultimate workplace award.

Create an environment of appreciation: While R&R programs are typically about recognition from the management, employees value positive feedback from peer groups equally. Though many organisations get team members to nominate their peers for R&R programs, giving a personal touch to such appreciation can go a long way towards building motivation. Providing a platform for employees to show appreciation through a ‘Thank You’ message or a small gift of gratitude makes recognition a part of the organisational DNA and keeps team spirit going. Showcasing successful employee stories and appreciative testimonials from clients and colleagues too can skyrocket employee motivation levels.

World of Thanks Story
To create a culture of recognition, AT&T Universal Card Services, Florida, through its ‘World of Thanks’ program encourages employees to write a message of thanks and send it to each other. For giving it an official touch, employees are given a globe-shaped pad of colored paper to write their messages. It is believed that in the first four years from its launch in 2000, AT&T employees have written over 130,000 thank you notes!

Prize organisational values: It is an unsaid rule that an employee generating above target revenues or providing exceptional customer service is given formal rewards and financial incentives. However, companies are going beyond incentives related to the performance metrics of the job and recognising employees who set an example of the organisation’s values and way of life or demonstrate strong work ethics. The result is a powerful message about what the organisation stands for, that reinforces desired work styles and establishes a strong culture.

Spirit of Fred Award Story
Although Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida boasts of around 180 different types of employee recognition programs, the Spirit of Fred Award is considered to be its most popular award. The name of the award was given after Fred, a contractual employee, who personified the company’s prized values of being friendly, resourceful, enthusiastic & dependable and was promoted to a permanent position in the company. Employees who win multiple ‘Spirit of Fred’ Awards also stand the chance to win ‘The Lifetime Fred Award’!

Recognise employees for a good cause: Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is also increasingly becoming integrated with exceptional employee performance. While most organisations encourage employees to volunteer for a good cause or program that the company is associated with, employees are also being rewarded for directly contributing to social causes in addition to doing their regular jobs. Not only does the employee have the satisfaction of giving back to society, recognition of these efforts helps employees to find greater work-life balance and gain satisfaction on more than one front.

GEMs — ‘Go the Extra Mile’ Story
Tata Consultancy Services’ (TCS) specalised R&R platform called GEMs—‘Go the Extra Mile’—is designed to recognise employees who take extra effort to get a job done. Based on their performance in a particular job, employees are awarded points which can be redeemed for products. More interestingly, in order to encourage employees to volunteer for the company’s social development activities, TCS extends its GEMs program to recognise efforts by employees towards society as well.

Simple rewards and instant recognition go a long way to motivate employees and help an organisation retain its best talent. At the end of the day, motivating employees is not just about elaborate R&R awards or big bonuses, it is about the satisfaction of a job well done and of delivering performance in a company you believe in!

Heard of an interesting R&R program? Or want to share how your organisation rewards its employees? Share your thoughts with us.

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