by Deanna Ting | January 29, 2015
Electronic solutions and platforms aren't new to the incentive industry. One need only look at the growing popularity of gamification in incentive programs and the popularity of digital gift cards for proof. When it comes to e-recognition, the evolution of those solutions continues to evolve.

"Knowing how to replicate emotionally engaging and personal recognition, and knowing that it may not be as powerful as it would be in person, is the biggest challenge when it comes to e-recognition," says Jonathan McClellan, director for employee recognition for Hallmark Business Connections.

He adds that because today's workforce is much more complex - there are often teams of people who work in different locations - it's much harder to implement face-to-face recognition and e-recognition platforms must be able to be "easily accessible any time, anywhere, on any device."

Because e-recognition is very convenient and easy to use for large and diverse organizations, McClellan sees it as a great solution to ensure that recognition takes place on a regular basis, too. "Not everyone is wired to do recognition well," he explains. "They need coaching and guidance and the tools to do it, and if it feels hard, they won't. Scalability is also another advantage to having an e-recognition platform. It gives you that measurability and helps you see how it is impacting your bottom line."

Other must-haves when it comes to e-recognition platforms include personalization and having "creative and engaging designs that are genuine and have the ability to personalize and customize the exchange to bring that human element that's often missing in the digital space," McClellan adds.

He says, for example, that merely designing a points-based platform is not enough. "Sure, you can give people a certain denomination of points, but then the recognition becomes focused on the transaction instead of the connection between the two people. It becomes all about the points."

By contrast, a successful e-recognition solution should be more about "the message itself," he says. "There's a simple formula used in the recognition space to make sure it's genuine: tell them what they did, why it was important, and what it meant to you as the person recognizing the recipient. If it's just a transaction, you lose focus on what the individual did and why it mattered. It's just about gaining more points as opposed to focusing on the right things."

So, what are some crucial ways to make sure your organization's recognition solutions are the most effective? Here are some of McClellan's top tips:

1. Face-to-Face Is Still Best
"My No. 1 rule is that if you have an opportunity to deliver recognition in person, you should do that. But we know that's not always possible."

2. Utilize User-Generated Content
If you can't deliver recognition in person and must resort to e-recognition, McClellan says it's useful to borrow from popular social media spaces and networks to add a level of engagement and interaction that is often missing from e-recognition. "You might want to consider bringing in some content like user-generated content as a way to personalize the exchange. When you think of sites and spaces like Instagram and Snapchat, what you're seeing is seeing people bring something of themselves to the table. You can use this type of content in e-recognition to recognize those personal moments that are being experienced in the face-to-face world."

3. Don't Forget to Include Gifting
Successful e-recognition solutions will also include gifts, and the gifts should be personalized, not cookie-cutter, says McClellan. "The power of choice is one of the most important factors in terms of applying incentive-based rewards for recognition. We went from symbolic recognitions like lapel pins, rings, and plaques to he merchandise world and now we're entering digital gifting, too. Recognition is about the event and the gift is the component of that - it emphasizes the value of that event. With digital, it's in real time now, too."