Building a recognition strategy for a hybrid workforce30.08.22
Your 4 step in-person recognition strategy for a hybrid workforce
General Manager, OneHub | Recognition
In the aftermath of the pandemic, as employees largely remain working from home or in hybrid roles, many organisations are now facing a dilemma – how to translate their in-person recognition and reward strategy for a hybrid employee base. Whether you entered the pandemic with a recognition strategy or not, the last two years have forced organisations to re-evaluate what recognition means to them – and their employees.
No greater challenge has presented itself to the world of work in the last decade or more, and this now provides HR teams and reward teams with an opportunity to continue developing or build a new recognition strategy that works for the employees of today and tomorrow – aka, a hybrid strategy for a hybrid workforce.
Let’s get into it…
Step 1: Review how you currently do recognition
- Before you can start planning your recognition strategy, you need to take stock of all the current ways your organisation is providing recognition to employees.
- You want to capture everything; begin with the smallest ways in which every single level of seniority can acknowledge the work of others in the business. For example, maybe it’s buying coffee at the local coffee shop near the office and allowing managers to expense one coffee per direct report every quarter. Maybe it’s sending emails directly to an employee to say ‘thanks'. Perhaps they’re just used to chatting in the office and that recognition comes out naturally as people run into one another.
- Work your way up to the grandest of gestures your business has in place. This might look like annual nomination awards, awarding a holiday to the most successful person in sales, bonuses for the highest-performing teams, or maybe it’s a dinner with the CEO.
- There will still likely be some gaps. This is to be expected because some of the ways in which teams are recognised and rewarded might not be officially sanctioned by the business, but would have still occurred in the old way of working, e.g. a manager paying for their team to have an outing doing an escape room or, going for drinks after work. To fill in the gaps, speak with people around the business. This can be a randomly chosen cross-section or maybe you send out an email to all people managers and ask them to reply with a bulleted list of the ways in which they recognise their team, from small to big gestures.
Step 2: Converting all in-person recognitions to online
The next stage is to take all your knowledge from Step 1, and translate this to work online. This doesn’t need to mean ‘just make it all fully-functional for hybrid employees’ (yet), it just means find ways to take those offline gestures and put them online.
Start by pulling together a master list from everything you learned in Step 1 and mark out all the items which are in-person methods of recognising the amazing work being done in your organisation.
Everything that falls within that category will either need to be scrapped altogether (not ideal, as it feels like something is being taken away from employees, particularly during a period where other privileges and freedoms many of us took for granted were also taken away) – or, more ideally – they need to be converted.
Let’s look at some examples…
If you allowed managers to expense a £5 coffee every quarter, this translates well into a £5 digital reward; offering this via an online platform is the simplest way, as it avoids the administrative hassle of negotiating transfers or expensing items.
Nominations are another big one that many organisations offer – moving these to a digital platform will not only enable nominations for a hybrid workforce, but it will significantly simplify the admin involved, from submitting a nomination to reviewing candidates and awarding prizes.
Other ways you show recognition offline have to become simpler – for example,. ‘winner’s circle’ dinner with the CEO can instead become a video message that’s posted by the CEO to the digital recognition scheme platform you use, and is paired with an email that directs all employees to the site they can watch the videos and congratulate their colleagues. For rewards like this, you can also keep the financial reward aspect and gift the value of that reward to the employee (privately) seamlessly through your online platform.
Once you’ve gone through your existing ways of recognising employees and digitalised them, your proposal to convert in-person methods of giving recognition are is almost ready for reviews and approvals.
Step 3: Budgeting for your new scheme
For Step 3, it’s time to break out Excel and add everything up! As with all steps, working with a provider who can offer experience and expertise in online recognition programmes will be incredibly helpful - In my experience, budgeting tends to break down in the following ways:
- Some methods of giving recognition within the business will have to be considered as a new expense (e.g. if in order to make it digital, it requires purchasing new software). Other methods will add money back into the business and will greatly help to offset any new costs, such as the difference in cost between a digital voucher and an in-person event (With our customers, across the board they report seeing cost-savings by migrating away from manual and in-person rewards.)
- Speak to various providers who you believe can tick all the boxes your company needs to make the shift to online reward and recognition, then review the shortlist and & include an average in the budgeting.
- A pro-tip for creating a business case: calculate the total time you, your team, or anyone else would spend making the ‘old way’ run, e.g.:
- Break down each individual contributor’s salary into an hourly wage
- Multiply the time that was dedicated to reward and recognition before by their salary
- Add it up, and include that as a cost in your business case
- Speaking with your preferred supplier, they should be able to help you gauge how much time you’ll be saving, thus determining the delta of an actual cost saving
Step 4: Get approvals, and get excited!
The final step in building your recognition strategy for a hybrid workforce is the approval stage. While often the most daunting stage, remember you’ve put in the work, you know the business case, and you know this is what’s best for your business and employees’ experience.
Also bear in mind that your chosen provider will be able to help you significantly in many of these conversations, whether that’s pitching the idea or providing data for the ROI.
What I’ve seen across all customers – no matter, what scheme they start with or what their planned scheme looks like - is that while it may take some work to make the transition from in-person to hybrid-appropriate, they do make back that time in dividends (and money!). Moving to an all-digital platform that’s a ‘one stop shop’ for nominations, milestones, recognition, and rewards will save your HR and reward team infinite hours of admin each month, while simultaneously reducing the chance of errors because of the shift away from manual work (such as needing to mail things out or send reminders to people managers).
So find a system that works for your people and ways of recognising great work, and let it do all the heavy lifting for you.
Joining Benefex from her home in Toronto, Canada, Lauren has a wealth of experience in high-growth tech start-ups, and a fierce passion for innovation in tech.
A lover of a good challenge, Lauren says building happy teams is what gets her out of bed in the morning (that and her dog, Mishu, needing a walk). At Benefex, she does this through heading up our market-leading OneHub | Recognition product!
When not at work, Lauren loves exploring the world multi-week trekking, surfing (terribly), and cycling. Her favourite aspects of life in the UK include Sunday roasts at classic country pubs, the sheer variety of regional accents, and the wonder that is Gogglebox!