by Terri Hardin | July 21, 2016

Getting Away from the Hive
Disharmonies between reward and recognition further amplify as the "hive model" for corporations becomes less relevant. While having workers report to a corporate headquarters and its various satellites remains the norm, certain job functions are now done by a growing cadre of remote employees.

"At ITA Group," says Danna, "we noticed in the late 1990s [that] we saw more people working outside of HQ; some never even saw their manager. But we still wanted them to be part of our culture, so we began adding communications and reward strategies that allowed for recognition of behaviors -- from peers as well as managers. After all, you still deserve recognition for a good act, even if your manager didn't see it."

Recognition, says Irvine, "gives you an incredible capability to build relationships that transcend time and place." Social recognition programs offer human resources managers the benefit of pulling distributed and remote workers back into the collegiality of a workplace through the visibility of recognition moments. "This includes companies with far-flung offices and remote workers," he adds.


Peter Hart
Rideau Recognition Solutions

For Hart, there's a difference between urban workers and outliers. "There's a big difference between rural and urban," he says. "If you're living in a city, we tend to live in a cynical world. But if you leave, it becomes less cynical. I can tell you, if you're a bank manager, and you're in a small town, you're a bigwig. They take pride in having those symbols that say, 'Okay, I'm at this status.'"

According to Brennan, the actual rewards that people choose to receive don't seem to change much based on whether they work in an office, from home, or out on the road. "As long as the rewards are meaningful, the recognitions are frequent and honest, and the platform encourages adoption, the entire organization stands to benefit through increased engagement, loyalty, and shared culture."

Danna agrees that flexible workplaces and workers are now the norm and should be treated no differently than on-site ones. "Technologies have evaporated the walls and distances between us. Therefore, a solid strategy will work everywhere for everyone."

It should still be as personal as possible, adds Hart. "Sometimes we'll try to schedule a presentation when I'm visiting them, or they're coming here, to make it special. The last thing we want to do is put an award in the mail. You've heard the expression, 'Your check is in the mail.' Well, an award in the mail doesn't really cut it for us. We try to make it as personal and special as possible. And that should be a rule that everyone abides by."

The Eye of the Beholder
Recognition, says Hart, is an emotion: "You either feel appreciated or you don't." He adds, "Over 90 percent of companies have recognition programs, yet, according to the Gallup Organization, over 60 percent of employees don't feel truly valued or appreciated."

Checking employees' collective pulse is integral to incentive programs. According to Irvine, in a survey from Globoforce's WorkHuman Research Institute, 85 percent of U.S. workers said that being recognized made them feel more satisfied in their jobs and 81 percent said they felt more committed to their company. Even so, says Irvine, "The continued strong economy presents a challenge to companies as increasing job opportunities mean employees will be more tempted to pursue new jobs, and have higher expectations of their current company."

In fact, a strong economy can be the greatest test of an incentive program. "Your high-potential team members always have options, but as economies improve, it's your top talent that is most transient," says Danna. Which makes it important to recognize them -- in every sense of the word. "A-Players put up the numbers in sales (or whatever their capacity), but they also volunteer in the community, participate in wellness programs, and do extra-curricular learning. That's why traditional manager spot awards and peer shout-outs aren't enough anymore."

Danna maintains that the best loyalty reward strategies blaze the trail for pioneers to follow. Successful loyalty programs feel good to participate in because the person chose to participate on his or her terms. "They were given choices on what to align with -- not told or mandated."

Brennan agrees, saying, "The most motivating reward an organization can offer its employees, regardless of age or demographic, is one that is meaningful and personal to them. Offering employees a choice in how they want to be recognized for their valuable work is a powerful tool to drive engagement and business results within the company."  

Questions or comments? Email [email protected]

This article appears in the July/August 2016 issue of Incentive.