The Case For Recognition

By Malcolm Fleschner
It’s no secret that the past few years have seen a dramatic increase in the number and size of the reward programs corporate America offers its workers. Yet we’re not so far removed from a time when a pat on the back from a manager to an employee was a genuine rarity – even if the employee in question was choking on a cocktail wiener at a company picnic!
With formalized recognition growing more popular in the business world, management is facing new challenges in regard to developing and administering these incentive programs. A recent article in the online human resources publication described the good and not-so-good elements encountered in the transition to modern-day reward and recognition systems.
The Cons
– Inefficiency continues to be a factor. Despite the advancements in online program development offered by the likes of and Maritz, many organizations cling to antiquated, inefficient paper-based systems. The results often are unnecessary costs and delays that detract from the program’s overall effectiveness.
Communication is lacking. Communication in paper-based programs – and even online programs – is notoriously spotty. Participants often are in the dark about who’s eligible, what the rules are and how to monitor their progress. Participation rates will only be high when employees can grasp easily what a new program means for them and how they can earn the rewards being offered.
Division is impeding success. Traditionally, individual departments were left to their own devices to develop reward and recognition programs. As a result, these fragmented islands that exist on a tactical level within an organization don’t have an all-encompassing, strategic direction. So, instead of an enterprisewide approach, companies are left with no clear means of tracking their programs, determining best practices or adapting recognition strategies to meet the changing needs of the marketplace.
The Pros
Online services streamline administration. For smaller organizations, paper-based systems may remain manageable, but for companies with employees numbering in the thousands, the Web provides the only real solution to significant program administration challenges. With online programs control is maintained centrally while participants can navigate easily through the rules and monitor their progress – typically at a lower cost to the organization.

Solutions offer multiple incentives geared to a single business strategy. Today’s comprehensive reward and recognition solutions allow companies to run multiple, simultaneous incentives aimed at different audiences with varying goals. As a result, companies can think broadly about long-term business strategy and develop dynamic, adaptable programs rather than simply running the same sales contests with diminishing returns year after year.

Services allow managers to manage. Online incentive solution providers offer a wide range of services, allowing sales managers to focus their valuable energy on other pressing matters. Some of these services include account tracking, developing creative and compelling communications, and generating reward portfolios that include everything from merchandise and travel to stored value cards and gift certificates.

Experts are available to help. Perhaps the most compelling reason to choose an incentive consulting organization is that of expertise. Few managers come to the job with experience running any sort of incentive program, not to mention one involving a range of departments and employees tasked with a diverse array of responsibilities. Since this is essentially what incentive consultants do, they have a much better idea what will and won’t work and can apply that knowledge more effectively to the unique challenges of each organization.