It’s the Thought that Counts (Really!)

If your company could increase profitability by an average of 21%, would you want to know how? What if you could simultaneously raise productivity, improve employee retention, reduce absenteeism, and spark better employee health outcomes?

It may surprise you that the primary driver behind all of those positive business results is the same thing: employee engagement.

Employees do their best to achieve their company’s goals when they feel engaged. Studies by the Conference Board have found that disengaged employees cost U.S. companies at least $450 billion annually. Disengaged employees take on less responsibility and ownership of their attitudes, behavior, motivation, and productivity.

Simply put, organizations that have higher employee engagement perform at higher levels. According to research by Gallup, companies that are best in employee engagement achieve earnings-per-share growth over four times that of their competitors.

So how can you boost employee engagement? Workplace recognition motivates employees by making them feel valued for their efforts and providing a sense of accomplishment. Individual, thoughtful recognition in particular has been proven to boost employee engagement.

Meaningful Rewards

The most meaningful employee recognition is thoughtful recognition, meaning the reward or recognition has been selected to suit the individual employee being recognized, rather than obviously formulaic.

For example, let’s say that a department manager hands out a Best Buy gift card each month to recognize the employee with the highest performance metrics over the prior period. There’s no thought behind the reward chosen other than most people can find something there to buy. Of course, everyone who wins appreciates the recognition and reward, but not all are particularly excited by the gift itself. 

Compare that to the meaningful way in which another department manager approaches their monthly rewards. Once the winning employee is chosen, they reach out to the employee’s supervisor for help choosing a reward specific to the employee’s interests. Rewards vary widely, from a gift card to a cycling superstore, to an all-day pampering experience at a local health spa, to … yes, a Best Buy gift card.

The point is that the recipient knows that their individual interests were considered. That’s not lost on the other employees, either. It feels good to be recognized as an individual. The gift resonates more, and the recognition itself also means more.

A simple way for companies to provide thoughtful, meaningful individual employee recognition is to provide the winning employee with various rewards and incentives from which to choose. These should be selected to address known and likely employee interests while keeping the company budget in mind.

To help make your “rewards catalog” as meaningful and individualized as possible, consider surveying employees as to where they’d go if they had $XXX to spend on the trip, or what they’d buy with an extra $XXX. Use their answers to guide content selection for your catalog.

Trophy Value

The most effective and individually meaningful employee recognition and incentive programs provide high “trophy value.” Trophy value is the ultimate impact of an award or incentive over time.

The Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) found in a 2020 study that employees ranked cash bonuses highest when asked what type of performance rewards they preferred. Yet, when they were asked what performance rewards gave them the highest job satisfaction and motivated them to do their best work, cash bonuses didn’t rank in the top five.

The reward types they chose as the most satisfying and motivational were company-paid experiential rewards, including travel, event tickets, outings for their family, extra paid PTO, and other such incentives.

For example, cash bonuses certainly make employees happy. But ask them about that $1,000 bonus a year later and many won’t remember what they spent it on. Those who remember may say it went toward bills or another equally unexciting expense.

Compare the trophy value of that cash bonus to the trophy value of an experiential reward that cost the company about the same amount – such as tickets to a World Series game or a weekend family pass to Disney World.

Some people may remember the money, but everyone will remember going with a buddy to the World Series or taking their family to Disney World – not just a year later, but for many years to come.

We Can Help

Xceleration works hard to understand your business and puts together carefully curated reward catalogs designed to resonate with your team. 

Contact Xceleration today to learn how our platform can equip your business with the tools you need for a meaningful employee recognition program.

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