New trends in rewarding all-star employees
Recognition has been around for eons, but trends change from year to year. Here are some of the new trends in recognition adn rewards, and examples of companies putting them into practice.
Increasingly, recognition can come from anyone at work, not just from one’s manager. Peerto-peer recognition should make up the basic foundation of interpersonal interaction for any strong recognition culture.
Let employees vote on employee awards. Have a vote for the company’s top performers/all-star team. Let employees recognize others’ performance on individual/group projects. Encourage a group/department to recognize a group/department’s accomplishment. At Montana’s Cookhouse, the large restaurant chain based in Mississauga, employees praise their peers’ work in external and internal customer service, health, and safety. Feedback is entered on the company’s intranet site and sent to the person’s manager, who reads the note to staff; notes are then posted on the website. About 1,500 comments were filed in the first nine months of the program.
In the past, rewards that were primarily used in the incentive industry were formal merchandise, such as etched crystal and logoed jewelry, used in formal recognition programs. Then lifestyle and family incentives became more in vogue. Now, experiential rewards are on the cutting edge of employee incentives.
Provide a free makeover. Give a full-day pass to a spa. Give passes for bungee jumping, hot-air balloon rides, whitewater rafting. Provide lessons: golf, scuba, flying, rafting, tennis, horseback riding, cooking, painting.
Dimension Data Canada Inc., the network-related technology company, appointed a chief fun officer in its Toronto office, a title given to an employee who’s willing to create fun. CFOs get a budget to organize monthly activities, such as paintball or bowling.
Another trend in incentives is the increased use of wellness and work– life balance incentives for employees.
Health and wellness tips
Pay for gym/health club membership. Pay a medical bill. Pay a dental/orthodontic bill for employee/dependent. Pay for Lasik eye surgery. Accounting giant Ernst & Young uses a program that focuses on pre- and postmaternity counseling and support. The firm provides a coach to work with the mother before she leaves to have her baby to talk about what life will be like when the baby comes and how she can manage work and life when she is ready to return. She is also paired with a mentor internally who is a successful working mother.
Companies and employees are also becoming more politically correct and environmentally aware in their use of incentives.
Purchase a plant in honor of employee. Go with an employee to a nursery and let them pick out whatever they want (within a predetermined amount). Chicago-based toy products company Radio Flyer, Inc. has an employee-run environmental-issues committee that held a presentation on global warming and launched a campaign to get employees to reduce their carbon footprints both at home and at work. They also introduced a new benefit where employees are paid 55 cents a mile to ride bikes to work. The workplace efforts extend to Radio Flyer’s office in China.
The final category is the increased use of charity incentives and the support of employees for community service.
Charity and service tips
Schedule a charity activity with any off-site meeting. Hold a Habitat for Humanity Day or Week. Sponsor/participate in a charity event. Have a food/toy drive for a charity of the employee’s choice. Start an “emergency time-off bank” pool for employees. At Thomson Corp. (now Thomson Reuters) employees are nominated and the winner chooses a cause to which the company donates cash. Excerpted from 1501 Ways to Reward Employees by Bob Nelson. Copyright 2012 by Bob Nelson. Excerpted with permission of the publisher, Workman Publishing.