Taking Your Employee Recognition System Online

An article in HR Magazine (January) looks at taking a recognition program online.  Discovery Communications (Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet) had a recognition program that was introduced in 2006.  For this program managers nominated staff and then were responsible for gathering up to five levels of approval. Each nomination then went to a recognition program administrator who reviewed the nominations to ensure that award sizes were consistent with achievement. Expected turnaround: 30 days.

A program  guaranteed to frustrate managers

Put yourself in the  shoes of a manager who wants to recognize an employee and give them an award under this program.  You complete a nomination. Now you need to walk the nomination form around for six approvals. What goes through your mind? Here are a few of my thoughts:

  • I don’t have time for this!
  • Is this person exceptional enough to justify the hassle?
  • Does HR think I’m incompetent?

Not surprisingly, according to HR Director Leah Coyne,  under this program “Very few awards were granted each year.”

Goals for the new system

Globoforce worked with Discovery to create a new system that

  • encouraged rather than discouraged use,
  • provided faster turnaround, and
  • resulted in more awards to more employees.

These strike me as important goals for improvement.

What they implemented and the results

The new system handles the nominations online, but still requires that 3-4 people review/approve a nomination for award. With less approvals and online administration, they are handled faster than before. The result is a significant increase in the number of employees awarded, from 2 to 20 percent of the workforce. The article doesn’t mention the new turnaround time.

I still wonder about the number of levels of review required. The article never mentions the dollar value of the awards, so I don’t know if this amount  of control seems reasonable. I certainly hope they aren’t putting managers through this in order to give out $25 gift cards.

The results do seem to speak for themselves, in addition to increased usage: “a 2009 survey of award recipients and managers reported having more connection to the company, being more engaged in their work, and feeling more satisfied and appreciated as a result of receiving awards.”

Copyright 2010 Cindy Ventrice



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