The Pros of Rewards and Recognition Technology

By Bob Nelson

Constructive use of technology can go a long way toward creating more positive working relationships and a more supportive work environment that better drives employee performance, productivity, and morale. Using technology for rewards and recognition today offers numerous benefits.

Facilitating integration with business operations

Recognition is becoming an increasingly more important aspect of business productivity, and its scope and application is rapidly evolving to include increased customization, personalization, and accessibility. As organizations apply technology across all aspects of their operations, they are including recognition in the effort.

In addition, executives no longer invest in employee recognition and engagement merely because it’s the right thing to do; instead, they need to see the impact recognition has on the business. With technology, they can identify specific opportunities that offer clear recommendations on where and how to close performance gaps and that outline how recognition benefits the bottom line — all integrated with real-time data to impact key business outcomes.

Consolidating recognition efforts, budgets, and administration

Most companies strive to consolidate their recognition and reward programs across the organization (recognition done geographically or by department, ad hoc rewards, and all other incentives) into a single overarching system. An online recognition platform allows for greater effectiveness, coordination, administration, and tracking, and leads to reduced redundancy, waste, and administration costs to the organization.

Allowing flexibility in response to changing needs

In these dynamic times, you need a recognition program that can adjust to the changing needs and priorities of your organization. Most recognition programs in companies tend to be plopped on the organization and operate independently of the organization’s strategic objectives and needs. As a result, management spends excessive time, effort, and financial resources on activities that have little, if any, impact on the success of the organization.

Take years-of-service awards, birthday celebrations, and holiday parties. How much better would it be to have recognition that focuses on the current year’s strategic initiatives, core company values, cost-saving ideas, hiring of talent, or client referrals? Multichannel recognition like this is possible (and you can run it all simultaneously) with an effective online recognition program.

Tapping into favorite social media outlets

Research by the Cicero Group shows that the benefits of recognition get amplified six times when integrated with social media tools. Properly utilized, social media can successfully combine public recognition for positive performance with the latest social communication technologies that connect a significant percentage of employees. For example, just as HR directors increasingly use social media for recruiting and marketing, they can also use it for broadcasting employee achievements to others within the company or to the public in general.

Social recognition is easier to do when you use social networks that are especially popular with the younger generations (which, incidentally, currently represent 58 percent — and growing — of today’s workforce), and it’s more powerful as well.

Offering greater freedom of choice

Making your rewards accessible online (whether through the web, a software application, or company intranet) provides an expanded choice of rewards; not just traditional rewards, such as plaques or logoed items. Having an online, brand-name reward selection allows you to add the latest products as they become available, as well as nonmerchandise items like travel, experiences, charitable donations, or green options (rewards that support conservation or sustainability initiatives).

You can even allow virtual redemptions, where you recognize employees with debit cards that they can use like cash with whatever vendors you select. An effective online rewards platform also allows employees to create wish lists of rewards they would like to receive, making the process even more meaningful for them.

Easier tracking and reporting of recognition program success

An online recognition and rewards platform allows you to track and report on recognition and correlate the use of recognition with performance. In so doing, you will be able to make better decisions and improvements to the program as you go. You can enter every recognition, reward, and inquiry, and then easily pull this information to see how the reward program is trending, identify top performers, and make connections to your business objectives. Tracking all recognition online makes it easy for managers and employees to access the data they need to monitor progress.