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by Roy Saunderson | October 28, 2014
When launching rewards and recognition programs, we sometimes forget that we may need to revive them along the way to be fully meaningful and functional for our participants. With Halloween coming up this week, here are the top 10 signs that your rewards and recognition program is more for zombies than for the living -- along with suggestions for how to change that.
 
1. You know your rewards and recognition porgram is for the zombies when you see users mindlessly trying to re-animate people through trite comments, and horrifically giving rewards to people with no real purpose.
 
2. Stop dead managers and people from eating up the living (or engaged) employees with negative examples of recognition and bad usage of company programs by promoting strong leadership and positive practices.
 
3. You know you have a "zombie apocalypse" on hand when you allow your workplace be brought down by an infestation of programs that focuses solely on rewards. Reward-focused programs breed entitlement mentality throughout an organization.
 
4. If you're having mixed results with trying to revive your workforce through rewards and recognition, enlist your fellow co-workers to brainstorm with you, and get more strategic about what you're doing with your program.
 
5. Recognition and rewards programs should be owned by everyone and not left to just one zombie who controls his or her unthinking henchmen into not using their programs well.
 
6. Prevent spreading an infection of the mindset that recognition and rewards don't make a difference to your workforce. Instead, communicate to them the mind-altering success stories of positive results from rewards and recognition programs.
 
7. While there are a number of other "monsters" that threaten your workforce's motivation, zombie cynics of recognition and rewards programs can threaten an entire workplace if you don't stop them in their tracks by using validated research.
 
8. Initial contact with a zombie rewards and recognition program is both dangerous and traumatic, so it is important to create a survivor's guide for people to know how to use these programs the right way.
 
9. Rewards and recognition programs can become zombie-like more quickly than you might expect. Often, the response of a leadership team can be slow to counteract that, leading to negative user experiences that only continue to expand well beyond containment. 

10. Never let rewards and recognition programs collapse to zombie-like levels where they cause shock, panic, and disbelief, and hamper the surviving employees from doing the work they do best.
 
Incentive columnist Roy Saunderson is author of Giving the Real Recognition Way and is the Chief Learning Officer of Rideau's Recognition Management Institute, a consulting a training company which helps leaders and managers get recognition right. He can be reached at RoySaunderson@Rideau.com. Also, check out the library of Real Recognition Radio shows.