Generally, organizations launch employee rewards and recognition programs with a great deal of fanfare with top-level executive involvement. However, not all employee rewards and recognition programs are able to sustain the same momentum after launch. There are many reasons as to why employee rewards and recognition programs fail. In this article, we take a look at a few possible reasons:
1. Lack of executive sponsorship
Leadership involvement reduces over time and employee rewards and recognition end up as one of the many HR initiatives. Leaders tend to shift focus to other initiatives and lose interest in the program as it becomes largely operational.
Organizations that have strong operations and people focus tend to fare better than others. This is because key employee rewards and recognition related metrics become integral to their internal operational reviews.
2. Lack of line manager involvement
Line managers hold the key to a successful implementation of employee rewards and recognition programs. However, if organizations do not involve them during the design and planning, they will perceive it as yet another management initiative. This cynicism percolates to their team members and eventually to the entire organization.
The objective of employee rewards and recognition program is to create a culture of appreciation. Frontline managers and supervisor are critical to the success of the program. Hence, managers should be involved in the planning and rollout of the program. Participation in the program should be incorporated in their KRAs.
3. Lack of ground-level interest
Employees might lose interest in the program over time due to diminishing importance or visibility of the program. Or it could be due to disconnect with the program objectives or the messed-up implementation from the very inception.
If the organization creates a program without proper inputs from employees or line managers, then it it may fall flat. It might meet the same fate as other such initiatives once the initial enthusiasm wears off. Hence, employee rewards and recognition programs should be planned only after a dipstick with the employees.
4. The process is too cumbersome
Implementation challenges might also derail the success of employee rewards and recognition programs. For example, a cumbersome process with too many criteria might make it difficult for managers to recognize employees.
An operations heavy process will deter them from going ahead and participating in the program. This holds true for employees as well. If the reward process is too cumbersome, employees might not want to be a part of it. Hence, it is critical that the process is simple and intuitive. Digitizing and automating it might be the icing on the cake.
5. Program is frozen in time
Employee rewards and recognition programs lose their relevance over time. They need to tweaked regularly to keep pace with the changing requirements of the organization and the workforce.
Organization priorities might change over time as it grows and as the business environment changes. For example, achievements related to revenue generation might hold maximum importance when the organization is in the growth phase. Over time as the growth slows down and organization matures, there might be an increased focus on cost-saving initiatives. Also, the changing profile of the workforce might impact the expectations of the employee rewards and recognition program.
Younger and more tech-savvy millennials entering the workforce or more women employees would definitely create different expectations from the program. Increasingly, peer recognition and self-nomination are becoming mainstream in most employee rewards and recognition programs.
Recognition should not be exclusive for the management. The goal should be to create a culture of appreciation in the organization. The management should act as catalysts for the program giving it the required importance and visibility in all possible forums.
Hence, organizations should invest in tools that digitize, automate and streamline employee rewards and recognition programs with minimum operational issues.
These are just a few of the top reasons why employee rewards and recognition programs fail. Leaders and HR must avoid these pitfalls to keep employees motivate and productive at the workplace. And honestly, this is hardly rocket science.
Employee rewards and recognition programs need continuous support from the management and regular efforts from HR to keep it in sync with changing needs.
The phrase “Change is the only constant” applies to employee rewards and recognition programs as well. They need to evolve and adapt to the changing organizational priorities, work practices, and employee preferences.