In Recognition Rx: Employee Engagement in the Healthcare Sector, I asserted the notion that “while healthcare organizations have traditionally offered employee recognition based on years of service milestones, the new recognition formula extends beyond employee loyalty to include the defined actions and behaviors that occur during the workday and throughout the employee lifecycle.” Simply put, meaningful recognition for employee loyalty is an essential element of the recognition equation, but not the sole component.
For organizations that agree with the premise that employee engagement is a key business strategy, the manner in which they implement recognition, including the technology platform and rewards framework they adopt, is significant. As a recognition practitioner for nearly 30 years, my experience is that organizations minimally have a service anniversary program in place where honorees are rewarded with the option to select a single merchandise award from a defined level within an online catalog. While this method works, it does not afford the organization the flexibility necessary to also motivate employees to perform other defined actions and behaviors outside of service milestones.

A better formula moves away from this traditional “plateau” reward structure to a Point-based framework. Points become the organization’s “recognition currency.” Points are awarded in small or large increments, for multiple and varying programs including years of service, and to individuals and teams. Consider the two scenarios below:

Organization A: Traditional Plateau Rewards Platform

  • $100 is the targeted reward value for honorees who have achieved 5 years of service.
  • Honorees select a single award at the 5 year level in the online catalog.
  • The program may be operating efficiently and the awards may be meaningful, but this recognition structure is confining as it does not readily support giving employees “value” for other important behaviors and achievements such as perfect attendance, new employee referrals, or training.

Organization B: Point-Based Platform

  • Organization leverages a Point-based recognition platform where 1 Point = $.10 (ten cents).
  • 5 year service anniversary honorees earn 1,000 Points (equivalent to $100 in value).
  • Employees within the organization also have the opportunity to earn 150 Points for each completed assigned training course; 200 Points per month for perfect attendance; and 2,000 Points for qualifying new employee referrals.
  • Points from all programs accumulate in employee bank accounts and are mixed and matched for potentially multiple awards, usually in an online catalog with significantly more award choices.
  • As new business challenges emerge that require employee adoption, the Point platform provides organization leaders with an existing, effective, turn-key framework to support these initiatives.

In order to leverage employee recognition as a strategy to drive the overall business, the recognition framework must be flexible and adaptive. If your organization has a tradition of honoring employees for years of service, consider refreshing the program with a recognition framework that extends beyond employee loyalty in order to address multiple business goals. The long-term cultural and business benefits far outweigh the short-term effort involved in making the transition.