Five Steps to Create a Successful Employee Rewards Program
Rebecca Hathaway|September 9th, 2019
When I started at Tango Card, I was the first human resources hire for the company of 50 employees. As our team grew to 140 employees, my role expanded from managing basic employee administration to building and focusing on HR strategy, including employee experience, employee engagement, and an employee rewards program.
Increase Employee Engagement and Cross-Team Collaboration while Building Trust
Many workers can become easily disengaged with their role or team if they’re not acknowledged for everything they’re bringing to the table. Creating an employee rewards program increases employee engagement and cross-team collaboration, but it also shows employees you trust and appreciate them.
Showing employees you’re excited about the work they do encourages loyalty and creates an environment where employees are more inclined to go above and beyond. Showing your organization’s trust in each employee also empowers your workforce, and in turn, builds your employee’s trust in the company.
Whether you’re finding solutions for a small company of 50 or a larger team of 500, there are five key steps in building a successful employee rewards program at your organization.
Step One: Gain Leadership Buy-in
The first step in creating an employee rewards program is getting your leadership team on board. Due to the nature of our business, it was always front of mind for our executive team to create an employee-engagement and rewards program. Having that leadership buy-in from the start was a crucial component in getting our program off the ground.
Don’t worry if you haven’t gained leadership buy-in at your organization just yet though! When given the chance to talk about how rewards programs keep employees engaged with each other—and their leadership team—you can move the conversation along by presenting a logistical plan that covers:
How to track rewards
Expectations for team members and employees
Step Two: Set Parameters
see what would happen. It’s always been important for the company to back this program, so Tango Card covers 100% of the costs associated with the program and doesn’t pass anything onto our employees. We set a cap amount of $10 per reward for our peer-to-peer program, encouraging employees to send as many rewards as they wanted to encourage participation.
Don’t feel overwhelmed or locked into the initial parameters you decide on for program launch. Instead, take the time to regularly reevaluate how your program is being used and the budget you have, then adjust parameters as you see fit.
Step Three: Set Up Reporting
As our company grew from 50 to 140 employees, the number of peer-to-peer rewards sent also grew. With that increase came the need for new ways to manage the rewards program—including the ability to pull reports that gave me the information I needed to stay on top of everything.
Each month I take about 30 minutes to pull and review a Rewards Genius report that shows:
How much we’ve spent
Who has given to whom
Where the rewards ended up
Reasons rewards were sent
A peer-to-peer program is stronger when employees are sending rewards with intention. I recommend requiring senders include either a personal message to the recipient or an explanation for the reward.
Step Four: Send Company-wide Communication
Once you’ve created the framework for your employee rewards program, the next step is to get employees involved! It’s not a bad idea to engage a few employee cheerleaders to advocate for its use. Then, make sure all employees are aware of the program by providing the following info:
Why the program was created
How it should be used
Where to find the tools needed to successfully use it
This information can be shared at a company-wide email and amplified with lunch and learns or a special highlight during a staff meeting. It gives employees an opportunity to learn about the program and any best practices as well as ask any questions that may arise.
Step Five: Monitor It
Trusting your employees is the name of the game, but when you’re implementing a new program, you’ll still want to make sure you’re checking in on it about once a week. For smaller companies, and anyone else concerned about potential program abuse, some warning signs and red flags to look out for include:
People who send rewards frequently to the same people
If there’s no reason listed for the reward
If you experience any instances of abuse with your program, you can pull the person aside, explain what behavior you see and why it’s a problem, and then give direction for the behavior you’d like to see moving forward.
Then, once you’re consistently seeing the program used correctly, you can move to a monthly or quarterly monitoring schedule.