New trends in re­ward­ing all-star em­ploy­ees

HR Update - - Recognition -

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.

Peer-to-peer tips

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.

Ex­pe­ri­ence tips

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.

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