Selecting an Employee Rewards System is like Buying a Car

Organizations need to focus on creating an engaged and motivated workforce to drive competitive advantage in the marketplace. One effective way of doing so is to have in place a well-developed and properly implemented employee rewards and recognition system. Such a system can help enhance the motivation and commitment levels of the employees towards higher business growth. With a large number of options for employee rewards systems available in the market today, choosing the one that best matches the needs of the organization can be challenging. We believe the process of selecting a suitable employee rewards system is quite similar to buying a new car. In this article, we take the analogy further.

Criteria for Selecting an Employee Rewards System

Most people intending to buy a car, have well-defined criteria for selecting the specific make, model, type, and even colour of the vehicle. These are mostly based on their specific needs and expectations from the car. The same holds true for an organization planning to invest in an employee rewards system. Each organization has a specific set of needs and expectations from an employee rewards program, hence they have different criteria for selecting an employee rewards system, just as a car buyer would have a certain set of criteria for deciding on which car to buy.


Why selecting an Employee Rewards System is like buying a Car?


Organizations looking to invest in an employee recognition system for the first time often find themselves overwhelmed by the wide range of options available in the market. This is is quite similar to the situation where people looking to buy a car often find it difficult to figure out where to start. However, with proper research and planning, it is possible to find the right employee rewards and recognition system just as one can find the perfect car. This step-by-step guide for selecting an employee rewards system can help organizations to do just that:

1.     Assessment of Needs
It is quite common for people buying a car to understand their needs and motivation for buying the car. Whether the car is meant primarily for family rides, office commutes or long road trips? Which aspects are more critical – power, fuel efficiency, comfort, safety, styling or design? In each case, a perfect car would be the one that would fulfil the specific needs of the buyer in the most satisfactory and cost-effective manner. Buyers might also consider their changing needs in the future.
In the same way, organizations too need to conduct a careful analysis of their needs before investing in a perfect employee rewards system.  They need to assess the key objectives of the program – driving employee performance, aligning behaviour to corporate values, or creating a positive workplace culture. They also need to take into consideration the needs and expectations of their workforce and look for a solution that maximizes the engagement and satisfaction of their employees.

2.     Deciding on the Budget
When buying a car, one of the most important things that buyers would consider is the funds they can spare for buying the car. This includes the down payment and the regular monthly instalments that one needs to pay. Obviously, the buyer needs to take into account his or her current income and the expected financial growth in the coming years.
Similarly, organizations looking to invest in an employee recognition system would need to understand their budgets. This should include the one-time investment of implementing such a system and the regular subscription charges (if any). Another point to consider is the budget required for monetary awards. Organizations need to plan their budgets in such a way that they can get a decent ROI from the investment that they are making in the employee rewards system.
 
3.     Comparing and Shortlisting
Most car buyers would do thorough research of the market to understand the available makes and models of cars. They would compare the features that they are looking for, to arrive at a shortlist of cars that they would like to consider to buy.
Similarly, organizations need to study all the employee rewards systems available in the market and do a detailed comparison of the required features, keeping in mind the objectives of the program and the needs and expectations of the workforce.

4.     Considering Ownership and Maintenance Costs
Buyers intending to buy a car need to look at all the costs associated with the car including the initials costs as well as the costs of regular maintenance and servicing.
In the same way, organizations looking to implement an employee rewards system need to consider its ownership and maintenance costs. They also need to consider the ongoing changes in the organization policies, and workforce expectations over time, hence factor in the costs of the changes or upgrades required in the employee rewards system.

5.      Discussions and Detailed Analysis
As the next step, prospective buyers would visit the car dealers and get first-hand information about the cars they have shortlisted. This includes a detailed understanding of features, specifications, options, pricing and payment plans, required to make an informed decision. 
Once the organization has shortlisted the vendors, they need to have detailed discussions with each one of them and get a demo of the system for a proper understanding of its capabilities, advantages and disadvantages with respect to their requirements. These details need to be analyzed thoroughly before making a final choice.

6.     Taking a Test Drive
Taking the short-listed cars for a test drive is a facility offered to prospective buyers by most dealers. It enables the buyers to gain the first-hand experience of the various features claimed to be offered by the vehicle and helps them to make the final decision on which car to go for.
Similarly, organizations should ask the vendors to facilitate a trial of the employee rewards platform. This will give them a better understanding of how well the system fulfils their requirements. It is advisable for organizations to conduct a trial of all the short-listed platforms and choose the one that offers the best benefits.

7.     Availability of Support/ Customer Service
Most automobile manufacturers today understand the significance of providing efficient after-sale support services to their customers. It is extremely important for the buyers to seek detailed information about these services, ranging from technical support, maintenance support and roadside assistance to insurance and loan facilities.
The significance of good support services for employee rewards and recognition system cannot be underestimated. Hence organizations need to look from systems backed by strong support services ranging from the query and issue resolution for the end-users to providing regular platform upgrades to ensure a high level of relevance of the program and employee experience over time.

8.     The Final Decision
The final decision of the buyer would depend on the features of the car in comparison to the others, the first-hand experience of the test drive, and the total costs of ownership of the car taking into account the fuel efficiency and maintenance costs as well. A buyer would consult their family members and friends before finalizing the purchase.
Similarly, organizations need to make an informed decision based on the features, capabilities and relevance of system with respect to the requirements and the one-time and ongoing costs of the platform. They need also consider the flexibility of the platform and the long-term product roadmap to ensure that it caters to the future requirements that the organization might have. Organizations might also consult with internal stakeholders such as other functions and even employee representatives before finalizing the employee rewards system.

9.     Closing the Deal
Typically once the buyer has decided to go ahead with the decision to buy a particular model of car, he or she would negotiate with the dealer to give the best possible price, discounts and offers. These offers could be in form of accessories and services. This would be the final step for the buyer in closing the deal.
Similarly, organizations should also negotiate with the vendor to get the best possible pricing options over the lifetime of the contract and any additional services that they can offer such as dedicated support or free upgrades.

Selecting an employee rewards system is a high-involvement decision just like buying a car. Hence, organizations need to proceed step-by-step with the decision-making by considering all possible factors to ensure that they select a system that best fits their requirements and budgets.

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Selecting an Employee Rewards System is like Buying a Car
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