How to level up your reward and recognition system

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In “How to make reward and recognition fun and relevant”, I outlined what fun incentives look like in one of the companies I helped. We tailored the awards and incentives to the team. When the team likes the awards and incentives, they realise management knows them, cares about them, and appreciates them. In turn, they work harder to “earn” those awards. You may also notice in my earlier story that not only those awards were different, but they change from time to time. You need to keep it fresh, change it up, otherwise, people would game the system. So, put thoughts into the rewards because it drives behaviour. Be creative.

When this kind of incentive proved to be successful, the head of Engineering and I wanted to see if we could do something similar to get the team recognised on the company level. So, we convinced the department heads and regional General Managers to have some special awards during the quarterly town-hall meetings and local all-hands meetings. Those are all monetary awards in the US in the form of gift cards, but different form factors for different local offices (whatever motivates the people in that office). Anyone can nominate, as long as they write a little blurb about the nominees’ impact. The nominee can be a person or an entire team, and we encouraged nominations to be an entire team. Eventually, this propagated to the company all-hands meetings. For all the winners announced in the town-hall and all-hands meetings, the winnings are now a part of their HR record.

What I have been telling you is the cautious approach that I took, to make incentives more fun and relevant at the team level. It also got expanded to more company-wide recognition. In the next post, I’ll share another story which started out in a team, propagated up the levels and became a radical change. A prerequisite, however, is to have the trust in the level where you want to affect.

In the meantime, if you want to explore more, please join the upcoming talk that I’m giving on August 26, titled “Daring you to open the HR Pandora’s box”.

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