One of the key factors for a successful employee rewards and recognition program is a well-designed and executed communication strategy. Unfortunately, organizations do not pay enough attention to this point. Lack of proper communication results in poor traction of the program among the employees and eventually the program doesn’t deliver the expected benefits.
The communication for a successful employee rewards and recognition program should be well-planned and executed. There is usually prelaunch communication, launch communication and post-launch follow-up communication. Let’s take a more detailed look at the communication plan for each of these stages:
The objective of the prelaunch communication is to inform the employees about the upcoming program and to create excitement around it. Focus of the communication must be on the goals of the program, expected benefits and the key highlights. It must try to address the question that every employee would have – ‘what’s in it for me?’.
Hence, a significant portion of the communication should be focused on the benefits for different levels of employees such as monetary rewards and social recognition for individual contributors, greater team motivation and productivity for managers and development of a positive culture for the management.
There should be multiple rounds of communication over a period of weeks or months. Each round should focus on one or two key aspects of the program to avoid information overload and to build up the excitement.
Another important objective of the prelaunch stage is to communicate with the line managers about the program in details. They are key stakeholders in the program and need to be taken info confidence about the program launch. However, this aspect of the communication is often ignored by the organization and line managers remain skeptical and uninvolved in the program, considering it as yet another initiative thrust upon them by the management.
Launch communication is focused on making a grand announcement about the program launch and heightening the excitement about the program that has been building up over weeks or months. The launch communication should also aim to provide all the details required for the employees to start participating in the program like to how to log into the rewards and recognition platform.
The launch communication should be crisp and well-planned as it needs to be delivered in a short time-frame. Information provided must be summarized; at the same time, it should provide sufficient details and point out to resources that can be accessed for the next level of details.
The communication should be made exciting, in sync with the theme of the launch event. It should be executed in a way to grab maximum attention of the employees in a short amount of time. Such high-intensity communication around the launch event makes it a memorable occasion for the employees, so that they can understand the importance of the program for the organization.
Post-launch communication is as critical as the launch communication. The key objective of this communication is to drive traction among the employees. It should be targeted towards clarifying doubts, answering questions, addressing issues and reiterating the key aspects of the program
Post-launch communication also serves as a reminder for employees to use the recognition platform and participate in the program. So, sharing initial usage data, early success stories and user testimonials are good ways to sustain the momentum and maintain the interest level of the workforce in the program.
All said and done, it is challenging to make any employee-facing initiative a part of the organization culture. Hence, there is no time limit for post-launch communication. It is an ongoing process and important for the continued success of the program. The constant communication is also necessary as new employees enter the workforce who would not know anything about the program
It also important to do short bursts of higher intensity communication from time to time especially if there are any changes being made to the program or the participation levels are dropping or remaining stagnant.
Organizations need to utilize multiple communication channels to communicate about the employee recognition program to their workforce. They can use a combination of channels that suit their employee profile and their overall communication strategy. Here are a few:
Email is a flexible and convenient channel for prelaunch, launch and post-launch communication. Prelaunch teasers and other communication can be sent through email. The launch communication could be also done over email from the CEO’s desk. Regular newsletters can be e sent over email – weekly or monthly; announcing the winners of the previous period and any updates on the program. Reminders to use the recognition platform and participate in the program can also be sent over email. However, one point to remember is that not all employees might have access to official email in an organization.
Intranet is another effective communication channel for the employee recognition programs. It can be leveraged right from hosting the prelaunch teasers to creating a microsite about the program with all possible information – program goals, program highlights, platform features, policy documents, platform navigation guides, etc. It can come become the one-stop-shop for all program information – communication sent through other channels can refer to the intranet for detailed information.
The employee recognition platform itself is one of the best ways to communicate about and promote the program once it is launched. Notifications, reminders and alerts about various aspects of the program can be posted on the platform itself. Whether it is a reminder for employees to recognize or update about a change in the program, the recognition platform can be leveraged effectively.
Collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, Yammer, etc. can be used effectively as channels to communicate about the program at each stage. Since employees maybe be using these tools regularly, the effectiveness of such channels be quite good.
Facebook, LinkedIn or WhatsApp groups can also be leveraged for sending out prelaunch, launch and even post-launch communication. These channels are particularly suited for a workforce that predominantly has no access to official emails or has low usage of emails.
LED displays, posters, standees, tent cards, etc. highlighting the employee rewards and recognition program can be put up across the workplace – workstations, lobbies, pantries, canteens, shopfloors, etc. Signages would work particularly well in a manufacturing, or retail environments where the use of emails and computers is on the lower side.
While digital and visual communication is important, the criticality of meetings as a communication channel should not be overlooked. Whether in-person or virtual, meetings should be conducted before and after the launch. The launch itself can be a grand event in form of a townhall. Even post-launch, townhalls, team meetings and floor huddles should be leveraged to present awards to employees and communicate about the updates in the program. The presence of the senior leadership in such meetings also adds to their impact.
New hires should be communicated about the employee rewards and recognition program during their orientation sessions. They should be informed about the program goals, polices, benefits and highlights in these sessions.
Whatever the modus operandi, consistent and effective communication is critical towards building a successful employee rewards and recognition program. Only then the organization can reap its full benefits in form of a motivated and committed workforce.
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