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5 Questions Leaders Will Ask About the Value of a Recognition Program

1. How much will it cost?

The cost of a recognition program will surely range across companies, their offerings and service. Typically, the price will vary depending on how many users of the program.  However, one thing to keep in mind when you are evaluating a recognition program is whether the vendor employs Embedded Margin pricing or Software as a Service.

Embedded Margin vs. Software as a Service

From our experience on both sides of these models, typically it is most cost effective as well as most transparent for your employees to go with a Software as a Service vendor.   In a software as a service relationship, you will typically pay a subscription fee per user of the program versus marking up the products to pay for the costs of the program.

Benefits of the SaaS Model

In a SaaS model, rewards should be delivered at cost with no mark up.  This means your talent not only gets the maximum value, but they also get the maximum selection for what they can redeem, further enhancing engagement for your global recognition efforts. Embedded margin providers don’t do that – they mark up their items.  It’s also important to ask about any set up, customization or implementation fees (at GES we do not charge any of these fees).

Other additional costs to consider are what your vendor support and staffing will look like.  For example, at GES our SaaS costs include a concierge service team who handle every program detail to ensure hassle-free service for your employees.  This includes supporting employees interacting with the system and helping program administrators managing the recognition program.

These are just a few questions and service features to keep in mind when evaluating your recognition service provider.

2. How will we measure results?

Results of a recognition program can be measured in various ways both qualitatively and quantitatively.  Some of the ways you can measure the results of your recognition program include: increased employee engagement levels, productivity, loyalty and ambassadorship to the company, net promoter scores, health and wellness of your employees (including absenteeism and sick days), increased customer experience and customer retention, and last but not least, increased profits!

Reporting

Your recognition provider should be able to track whatever metrics you want, such as performance, service, sales and behaviours.  For example, GES’s recognition portal’s real-time reporting tracks every transaction that occurs in the system and all data can be pulled to determine engagement levels and use.

You may also want to be able to survey your employees internally in the program so you can pull some qualitative data about their experience with the program and their levels of engagement.

Measuring ROI

Year over year data should be compared to show the overall ROI of the recognition program.  You should be able to see positive gains in productivity, efficiency, wellness, etc., that can be translated into a dollar value for your program.

3. How will it improve our organizational processes, profit, productivity, etc.?

An engaged employee is a more productive employee.  An employee recognition program will help increase your internal service cooperation, which translates into better customer service, thus helping improve your top or bottom line.  A good recognition program reduces the complexity of your overall employee engagement strategy, by allowing you to drive 6 or 7 programs under one umbrella and one budget (for example, safety, wellness, on the spot recognition, recognition campaigns, service anniversary, etc.).

The Stats to Back it Up

According to a recent report by OfficeVibe, “disengaged employees cost organizations between $450 and $550 billion annually,” (OfficeVibe, 2017). In their roundup of employee engagement stats, they make a very compelling case for the profitability of engaging your employees:

  • Highly engaged business units result in 21% greater profitability.
  • Highly engaged business units realize a 41% reduction in absenteeism and a 17% increase in productivity.
  • Highly engaged business units achieve a 10% increase in customer ratings and a 20% increase in sales.
  • Companies with engaged employees, outperform those without by 202%.
  • Customer retention rates are 18% higher on average when employees are highly engaged.

Engage All Your Stakeholders

An effective recognition program will engage all stakeholders in your organization including leaders, employees, sales partners, and your customers.

Leaders - It will allow your leaders to build an emotional connection with your employees, increase their own engagement levels (as well as others), attract and retain the best employees for your company, and provide skills that will make your employees more valuable.

Employees - An effective recognition program should put your employees at the centre of the program – allowing them to have a personalized experience where they can choose how they are rewarded (for example, with GES’s program employees can choose the rewards they want from our global online gallery).  You want to be able to have comprehensive reporting to track awarded points and redemption rates, which will help you understand what motivates your team so you can continue to encourage and reward those positive behaviours.  A good recognition program will also take advantage of non-monetary forms of recognition, such as peer-to-peer nominations, social news feeds and fun gamification elements.

Sales Partners – You can use an effective recognition program to motivate your sales people to achieve their goals, including maximizing cross-selling opportunities and increase lead referrals.  You can use a recognition program to create friendly competition with built-in leaderboards, which also give high-performing sales teams’ recognition with their peers.  These types of recognition programs help to reinforce positive desired behaviors among your sales staff and encourage higher achievement levels.

Customers – You can even integrate a great employee recognition program with your customer recognition program.  A customer recognition program should provide tools to influence, motivate and engage your customers to create sustained loyalty. Like your employee program, a points-based system should allow customers to choose their own rewards.  You can also use it as a tool to conduct surveys to gather new information and influence change in your customer’s behaviors and buying habits.

4. Why should we buy from this vendor?

Selecting the right recognition provider can be overwhelming and tricky.  On top of evaluating all the features, capabilities, etc. one thing that is critical to pay attention to is that they do what they say they will do.  Trust your gut when you’re connecting with them.  Do they follow up on time? Do they provide you with the materials or information you asked for in a timely manner?

It’s also important to be able to get recommendations from their current and/or past customers.  They should be able to provide you with several contacts that you can connect with directly to ask about their experience.

Ask organizations if they have any customer case studies or results that you are able to review to see their proven track record.

You can check out some of GES’s customer results we have achieved with our 400,000+ customers, achieving billions in engagement ROI.

5. What are the capabilities of the program?

You want to find a recognition program that is completely customizable for your business goals and objectives.  It should reflect the distinct voice for your brand and unite everyone in your organization when it comes to the company’s culture, mission, vision and values.

Features

When evaluating a recognition provider, some of the program features you might be interested and should ask about include:

  • Peer to Peer Recognition
  • Manager to Employee Recognition
  • Spot Cards
  • Leaderboards
  • Social Recognition
  • Surveys
  • Learning
  • Budget Manager
  • Badging
  • Birthday Awards
  • Service Anniversary
  • Wellness
  • Safety

Global Functionality

Depending on the needs of your organization and whether you are a global company, you might also want/need global functionality.  Some things to consider include:

Are the rewards culturally relevant?

Can the program be offered in multiple languages? (For example, GES’s global recognition programs are available in 16+ languages including Arabic, Chinese, Czech, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, and growing!)

Are the rewards sourced and fulfilled in country or will you have to pay shipping, taxes and tariffs on the rewards?  Keep in mind this might eat into your recognition budget. (GES’s global rewards are fulfilled in country in 170 countries across the world).

Mobile Capable

In this age of technology, mobile capability is critical to have for your recognition program. Not only does it allow for leaders and peers to recognize in the moment, but it also assures that the participants have the same user experience no matter where or how they login to the site.   Our research has shown that companies who recognize their talent day-to-day and in-the-moment have much higher levels versus those who only recognize at certain milestones or tenure events.

If you’d like any further information on how to evaluate a recognition program, feel free to reach out to me at jenn@globalengagementsolutions.com or you can request a demo of our solutions here.

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Jennifer Budinsky is the Director, Marketing Communications for Global Engagement Solutions whose mission is to help companies create engaging employee and customer experiences. Prior to joining GES Jennifer was the Communications and Marketing Manager at Green Living Enterprises, Canada’s leading cause marketing and event agency focused on social and environmental program development. She has a Master of Arts in Communication and Social Justice, and Bachelor of Arts Honours in Communication, Media and Film from the University of Windsor. She resides in Toronto, Ontario and spends her free time working as an actress on various television and film projects there. Jennifer is an ambassador for encouraging people to create exceptional experiences in every aspect of their lives, from work to home to play!