by Razor Suleman | May 18, 2011
The recent surge in technology has turned the HR industry upside down in the best possible way.  It has allowed HR professionals to move beyond time-consuming administrative tasks and focus on critical issues like corporate culture and employee experience. In today’s knowledge- and service-based economy, people are the competitive advantage, and it is a critical challenge for every company to effectively engage them. 

It is this surge in technology that has prompted the online platform to become today’s default for recognition programs. Recruiting, retaining, and inspiring great people is a benchmark of success, and adopting an online recognition program is the answer for today and the future. Despite being engaging for employees and offering seamless integration into a current talent management strategy, online programs are an area into which organizations remain hesitant to take the leap.  

What are the benefits of online delivery, and, more importantly, how can employers make the move into this arena?

Understand What Disengages
It’s no longer acceptable for a company to reward in five-year increments based on service tenure. And they certainly can’t expect that handing an employee a catalog with limited reward options will influence motivation and loyalty. HR needs to become one of the most forward-thinking departments within an organization, and by hesitating to move a reward and recognition program online there is a high risk of delivering a solution that isn’t relevant to employees. 

Get Everyone On Board 
Online delivery is here to stay, and nobody can afford to miss out on its benefits. Lobbying senior leadership to share in this strategic vision by communicating snapshots such as Bersin’s study on the benefits of Sofware as a Service (SaaS [low cost of entry, easy upgrades, predictable spending, and fast implementation]) or the "2011 Employee Engagement Report" statistics, which show that only 31 percent of employees are engaged. Make the ROI and sensibility of this strategy impossible to dispute.

Rethink Spending
Adopting an online program shouldn’t be viewed as a financial drain, but a smart investment that will increase productivity and decrease turnover. Organizations that continue to offer traditional years-of-service awards or that use a provider that limits reward choices to what is produced within its warehouse are exhausting money to actively disengage employees. 

Third-party providers that are well-versed in best practices of online programs take the pain out of administering them, designing and building the platform, sourcing vendors, and tracking metrics. Time, expense, and efforts are minimized so that employee participation and early adoption—the true indicators of a successful program—become the focus. The advantages of an online solution far outweigh a traditional program that is implemented in-house. Among the many benefits are:

It’s Paperless
An online rewards catalog can be easily updated and integrates choices from multiple vendors, empowering employees to redeem for something that fits their lifestyles and will serve as a memorable reminder of their valuable contributions. There’s something meaningful for everyone, with rewards ranging from Apple electronics to magazine subscriptions to hot air balloon rides. 

It’s More Than a Reward
An online rewards program is not only a catalog, it’s a platform that encourages employees to communicate and recognize one another. Employees can log in to the platform to see what other colleagues are doing to drive results and add value to the company, and then be inspired to do so themselves. It establishes recognition as a formal part of company culture, boosting morale and driving repetition of positive behaviors. 

It’s Social 
Reluctance toward social media is fueled by intimidation, but if properly utilized it can be an effective recruiting and branding tool, as well as make recognition more significant to employees. Professional and personal networks have merged, and people want to be able to share on them. An online program can enable an employee to post recognition moments to LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook, both sharing success with his networks and, in effect, producing exposure that establishes his workplace as a top employer.

Metrics Are Automated
Online reward and recognition programs automatically track and trend data, making budget, recognitions, account balance, and top performers easily accessible for review. They turn numerous analytical tasks into consolidated, centralized information to allow administrators to regularly review and measure the value of the program.
 
You Can Become More Strategic
An online program frees up time for HR to focus on a successful launch as well as make strategic decisions that impact an organization’s future. HR is evolving to live up to employee expectations, updating archaic practices and adopting innovative talent management solutions that increase levels of engagement, productivity, and retention. 

Rethink your platform and be a part of the revolution that transforms HR into a pivotal decision-maker. Recognize, reward, and make it count.