In today’s workplace where engagement is a huge focus, rewards are a great way to recognize your employees’ efforts and milestones. The heart of employee recognition is just that: recognition. Recognition implies gratitude, acknowledgement and appreciation, all of which are made meaningful when presentation is taken into account.
From the e-book "The Art and Science of Engaging Rewards," professor Haim Mano of the University of Missouri says, “The reward should act as a trophy, it’s more psychological than just the prize, it is pride.”
If you had just completed a marathon for the first time, would you feel more accomplished if you were sent a trophy in the mail later that week, or if you were awarded one in hand at the finish line in front of your peers and family? Almost certainly you’d feel more proud, accomplished and valued for your feat in the latter scenario.
Melissa Van Dyke, president of the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF), stresses that the award itself can even be less important than how it is presented to the recipient. Says Van Dyke in an Incentive Magazine article, "Even if you are providing amazing awards, if the recipient does not know why she or he is receiving it, does not feel connected to the individuals providing it, or does not like the way it is communicated, our research shows you will undoubtedly miss the mark."
When you’re planning award presentation, be mindful of those three factors Van Dyke calls to: clarity of why the reward is being given; connecting the reward to the recipient and the greater organization; and communicating the reward and its purpose in an effective way.
Here are some additional pointers for making sure your reward presentation hits the mark:
- Make it a public event. First and foremost, present the award somewhere in person and in real time, such as a team meeting, company town hall or even a special event.
- Share it with the company, or at least the recipient’s team. Depending on the size of your organization, it might not make sense to have the entire company involved. But at least make an effort to have relevant managers and leadership present, as well as the recipient’s peers. Since certain employees value peer-to-peer recognition while others value leadership-driven recognition, having them all present will help ensure the recipient feels recognized in their own way.
- If the entire organization is not attending the presentation, make sure the recognition goes out to the rest of the team in some other way — emails, posters, internal TVs, etc. This way, the recipient knows that their accomplishment has been shared, while the rest of the employees see that recognition is a company-wide effort and celebration, and that all are eligible for recognition for their own accomplishments and milestones. In other words, it brings the whole organization for support towards shared goals and achievements.
- Have the recognition come from the voice of the manager or peer involved in the award selection, and include a story about the recipient. The story provides an explanation of what the award is and why it is important, and why the recipient is receiving this award. Make it understood why the employee and their accomplishment is valuable, and always make sure the message is clear across all teams how their work also contributes to the broader company values.
On a final note, don’t forget about the importance of timeliness. In the example of receiving a trophy for running a marathon, part of what makes the scenario where you get mailed your trophy later so sad is not just that you’ve lost the in-person recognition factor, but also that you’ve lost the momentum in the timing of the reward.
Dantè Taylor, Human Resource Manager here at Hinda Incentives, says, “Doing recognition immediately, within 24 hours, shows that you noticed the effort and provided a timely response to their effort.”
When you cross that finish line, you want someone to hand you a glass of water immediately, pat you on the back, and give you that trophy while your heart is still racing and your mind is fresh with what you’ve accomplished. The same goes for employee recognitions, which will be greatly more memorable if presented in a timely manner when the milestone is still fresh.