Seven practical HR benefits of employee recognition software

Employee recognition has become an increasingly important part of the HR professional’s toolkit when it comes to driving engagement. And just as the online world has made our personal lives more convenient, so have online recognition programs for both employees and organizations.

The pace of adoption almost matches the growing body of research which highlights the benefits of moving recognition online, and unifying reward and recognition into one universally accessible platform.

For example, Sodexo’s 2015 workplace trends report found that recognition programs can yield a 21% increase in employee retention, as well as 27% higher profits.

But despite this, many businesses still rely on an offline approach to showing recognition to staff, through time-old initiatives such as years of service awards, seasonal bonuses and the occasional ‘well-done’ from a manager to an employee. And that’s all well and good, however, research has shown that younger workers, in particular, (who are set to make up 75% of the workforce by 2030) much prefer to receive recognition in a public setting and to share their achievements with colleagues.

So, if you’re considering moving recognition online, or exploring how to implement an employee recognition initiative from the ground-up, here’s a look at seven practical HR benefits of employee recognition software. Feel free to skip ahead using these links:

1– Align reward spend in one platform
2– Increased accessibility
3– Easier admin and reduced program management time
4– Giving employees ownership
5– Supercharged activity
6– Transparency and data
7– A faster process

Align reward spend in one platform

Employee recognition software has made it easier for organizations to manage reward spend in one place. Especially for businesses with multiple locations or international operations, budgets can be allocated from a central pot and tracked through to each employee/reward designator, whilst factors for a global workforce such as cost-of-living adjustments and localized currencies can easily be accounted for.

Managing reward through software also makes it easier for managers to understand the effectiveness of reward budgets, which reward types are most popular amongst employees and really understand the potential return-on-investment of the program.

For example, many businesses have found that internal rewards, or perks, are often favored  more by employees, especially surrounding earning additional time off.

Managing rewards online can also prove more cost-effective for organizations, and it’s easier for employees to redeem and choose what matters most to them through digital reward catalogs.

Increased accessibility

As the workplace becomes more flexible, remote working popularity increases and business operations regularly cross borders, it can become a thankless task to ensure recognition takes place for everyone within an organization – wherever they’re based.

Employee recognition software (particularly with global functionality like Workstars) makes this easy for HR to manage this process, ensuring every employee with wi-fi access can have the same recognition experience as a colleague based at a head office. In fact, over a quarter of online recognitions now take place from a mobile device.

This has helped businesses where most of the workforce are away from a desk (or don’t even have a company email) engage with a recognition program, from field sales and retail through to manufacturing. It ensures every employee, wherever they’re based or whatever company level they’re at, has access to the same recognition experience.

For more tips on engaging remote workers specifically, check out our look at 10 companies leading the way in that arena.

Easier admin and reduced program management time

Imagine launching an employee initiative that’s painless to set-up, allows you to track everything that happens, and you can easily manage access, control levels and budget designation – with just a few clicks?

Managing offline recognition programs can result in communication and visibility headaches for businesses. Having to send emails, print certificates, disseminate data and generally push the conversation is challenging, time-consuming and requires constant effort.

But HR can expect zero headaches when it comes to launching an employee recognition program with less admin time required to maintain the program once it’s set-up, integrated with existing business tools and launched.

Workstars has given Onyx employees a fun and interactive platform to celebrate our colleagues’ success, and that has been invaluable to our work culture. Implementation could not have gone any smoother. The support team is always timely, friendly and helpful. Workstars is a great tool for the HR professional’s arsenal.

Moving employee rewards online also has many benefits. For starters, any HR professional who’s been tasked with managing the fulfilment of years of service awards or indeed buying gift cards for staff will know how much of their day it can take up. Online rewards in the form of digital voucher codes are next-to instantaneous and require no manual work to fulfil on the employer’s part.

Giving employees ownership

Every business needs to define how recognition will work for them. Is it a top-down approach where managers and team leaders still control much of the conversation, or can an organization fully trust its’ people to engage with a platform at their own level, in their own voice and in their own way?

Adopters of online recognition programs – particularly those with a peer-to-peer element – all have one thing in common; they trust their employees and remove many of the sign-off processes that can be a barrier to timely and authentic appreciation taking place.

Giving employees ownership of the recognition (and even reward) conversation will increase the long-term engagement with the platform itself, as well as switching the mindset of the workforce from waiting to receive praise or reward to being the givers of thanks and recognition.

Empowering employees in this way also removes the burden from management to be the standard-bearers of recognition and relying almost exclusively on people leaders to spot and praise all the great things happening within the workforce.

Whilst offline recognition initiatives can still encourage employee ownership or, at the very least, staff participation, it’s the ease of access and transparency of an online platform – particularly one founded on social principles – that really demoncratizes the recognition process.

Supercharged activity

When the architecture of an online recognition program is open and employees are encouraged to take ownership, activity is supercharged, and a culture of appreciation can begin to grow.

One of the knock-on effects of offline recognition initiatives has been that companies are reticent of too much activity. HR doesn’t want to sift through hundreds of nominations or spend most of their day shipping rewards. Because of these manual processes, offline recognition tends to be more manager-led, but this stifles overall recognition activity within the workforce.

But when recognition is moved online, activity is encouraged.

Employees will become more active in recognition giving and make a conscious effort to contribute when they can see appreciation taking place. And the knock-on effect of being recognized then leads to a cycle of long-term recognition giving, creating an infectious positive feedback loop which will maintain activity and drive the cultural benefits which recognition programs are designed to deliver.

Read more: What does using social recognition software say about your business?

This peer-to-peer model is one of the reasons why employee uptake in employee recognition programs is so high. In fact, organizations which have incorporated Workstars into their working practices see a 96% uptake, with 95% of staff receiving recognition in the first six months.

That’s more than nine in ten colleagues who will receive a thank you message, whereas before they may not have done, and will feel appreciated for their efforts and valued by their peers and the wider company.

And whilst peer-to-peer recognition can happen offline in paper form, activity levels are tiny in comparison to an online approach.

Transparency and data

Because everyone within an organization can participate in an online recognition program, they are taking ownership. As a result, there’s a lot more transparency as there’s visibility as to what colleagues and managers are doing around the business. This includes any recognitions colleagues receive, how senior leaders are showing thanks to staff and any rewards handed out by management too, in some instances.

This is one of the primary reasons why online recognition has been widely adopted. It gives everyone the opportunity to see the great things that are happening and gain a better understanding of what different teams, business units and even colleagues in other countries are doing and how they’re contributing.

In an earlier article in which we explored HR and its use of data where research found that there are huge discrepancies between views on the importance of people data versus how effective human resource and also internal recruitment departments are at compiling, managing and interoperating the data available to them.

By taking recognition online, HR can ditch the spreadsheets and track, administrate and analyze a fountain of useful and actionable information within one platform, whilst also delving deeper than ever before into how their workforce functions at a people level.

Employee recognition software can deliver powerful reports from employee engagement and participation levels right down to manager performance, tax reports and reward budgets with just a click, as well as assessing how teams work together, who the main givers of recognition are and which company values are being practiced most often.

A faster process

The most powerful moments of recognition happen almost instantaneously. They don’t rely on lengthy sign-off processes to show gratitude or rely on a central panel to review whether praise or reward is warranted.

Whilst older generations were accustomed to annual feedback reviews and occasional company or service awards, the younger workforce requires far more frequent and timely recognition for their contributions.

Online recognition programs help make that happen by providing a central platform for the showing of appreciation to take place, accessible by all within the workforce, without the requirement for review and sign-off.

Online processes have also cut the time it takes to redeem a reward with digital gift cards, discount codes or booking experiences negating the need for catalogs and reward fulfilment. These processes now take hours instead of weeks, even within a tightly controlled and budget-conscious conversation.

With faster processes comes a more meaningful experience for recipients. Praise received on the same day as the behavior or endeavor deserved it, is made far more powerful than getting thanked two weeks – or even months – after the event. By then, the moment has passed and the opportunity to give authentic and timely recognition missed.