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How to bring reward and recognition into the 21st century

It’s time to change reward and recognition – and technology has the answers

Isn’t it time 'Employee of the Month' was banned? Such an outdated practice isn’t it? Once a month singling out an employee and making a fuss of them. I suggest this not because I think recognition isn’t important – or even having an employee of the month – but why only once a month? What’s wrong with an employee of the week? Or even the day?

Thanks to technology it's possible to create reward and recognition schemes that can transform the way employees are recognised for doing a ‘good job’. Not only that, but technology can do far more than merely improve the regularity of such recognition schemes: it can transform every aspect – from their alignment with wider business objectives to their seamless integration into a company’s HR information systems.

For many, reward and recognition is an essential part of any HR programme (we believe that in time it will become as significant a part of any employee’s benefits package as, for example, childcare vouchers). It’s also important that the rewards offered are significant. Cash benefits alone are not special enough. Nobody would say that an extra boost to the monthly pay packet isn’t welcome, but when it’s likely to be swallowed up by day to day expenses it stops being ‘special’. Paying off the mortgage is all very well, but it’s hardly likely to linger in the memory when compared to the excitement of taking the whole family for a fun day out.

What we’ll see more of is employees using technology to drive change in the way they are recognised. As with so many areas of work, technology plays a key role in empowering employees. Instant peer recognition, for example, allows an individual to say thank you to a fellow employee they know is doing a good job. That leads to immediate recognition and reward – not in a month’s time but right away. This in turn drives up employee engagement and retention.

By linking recognition to core company values – for example, the importance of co-operative working – the whole system can be more closely aligned with wider business objectives. This can be turned into a game, with employees able to award each other online badges or certificates specifically linked to those objectives. It sounds very simple but it really works.

For HR there is not only the opportunity to tailor reward and recognition schemes to business objectives, but to monitor activity and then use that feedback to learn more about what works best. This learning can then be adopted to further refine the whole recognition process. These statistics can help to quickly identify not only who is being recognised (and for what), but where people are being recognised; a particular department, office, or even region. You can measure what is really important to employees, and what kinds of rewards are most often being received.

Finally, reward and recognition technology can be fully integrated into your existing HR information system platforms. As soon as a new employee arrives they’ll automatically be welcomed to the scheme, freeing HR up to concentrate on what can be learned from such schemes. It’s easy to optimise any system to run on whatever platform is appropriate, especially mobile devices.

If 'Employee of the Month' works for your organisation I wouldn’t suggest you stop it. But don't forget that there are new technological solutions arriving all the time that allow HR to take a fresh look at reward and recognition. Not only can technology revitalise the way any business chooses to reward its employees, but also make the management and operation of such schemes far more streamlined, effective and efficient. The technology is here and readily available. So isn’t it time you discovered what it could do to transform your business? Not in a month’s time, but right now.

Alexander Stead is a marketing specialist at Ovation Incentives