Five Questions Your Leaders Will Ask About the Value of a Recognition Program

Five Questions Your Leaders Will Ask About the Value of a Recognition Program

Peter PsichogiosLearning & Development, Recognition & Engagement Leadership

1. How much will it cost?

This is always the first question! The cost of a recognition program will range across companies, their offerings and service. Typically, the price will vary depending on how many employees participate in 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 select a Software as a Service vendor. In a software as a service relationship, you will 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 it improve our organizational processes, profit and/or productivity?

An engaged employee is a more productive employee. An effective recognition program reduces the complexity of your overall employee engagement strategy by allowing you to drive several programs on one platform and one budget (for example, safety, wellness, on the spot recognition, recognition campaigns, service anniversary, etc.).

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 center 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 behaviors. 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.

3. 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!


Your recognition provider should be able to track all the metrics you want, such as utilization, budgeting, redemptions, as well as elements unique to a specific department or location. For example, GES’s recognition portal’s real-time reporting tracks every transaction that occurs in the program 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 and engagement that can be translated into a dollar value for your program.

4. What are the capabilities of the program?

You want to find a recognition program that is 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.


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

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

5. 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 honor commitments? Are they flexible with your unique needs? Are they easy to do business with?

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

Are you global?

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:

Is there parity in the point value across the globe?

This ability to offer point values relevant to the location of the employee is extremely important to every business, as well as to every employee. If you are seeking a global program it is best to ensure there is parity in the value of the points being issued no matter the location of the end recipient.

Are the rewards culturally relevant?

Employees want to redeem their points for something that motivates them, which is unique to the individual. If you are looking to implement a global program you must offer redemption options that are culturally relevant to the recipient, despite the location they reside in. Be sure to offer a wide variety of merchandise and gift cards for all participants in the program.

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).

Can the program be offered in multiple languages? GES’ 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!

If you’d like any further information on how to evaluate a recognition program, request a demo of our solutions here.