8 signs your service awards need replacing

By in Appreciation, Celebrate Careers, Employee Rewards Programs, and Recognition Strategies
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Today’s most strategic HR leaders are always on the lookout for opportunities to impact company success, improve corporate culture, and influence greatness. It can be exciting and personally rewarding to launch a program employees love. But when is the time ripe to change your service award program, and when is it best to stick with what you’ve got?

In recent interviews with HR leaders, we discovered a few common, but not very strategic, reasons why organizations change service award providers:

1.  A change in HR leadership happens, and the new leader wants to make a personal mark on the most visible HR programs.

2.  An overall consolidation of recognition programs occurs (perhaps due to a merger, acquisition, or other factor) and divisions or geographies need to bring programs together.

3.  An HR executive has a relationship or preference, and wants to hire a recognition vendor they’ve worked with before.

4.  Procurement forces HR to go to RFP every few years, even if the existing program is performing well.

All of those reasons are true-to-life. But none are very helpful to an HR leader seeking to make a positive change, at the right time, for the right reasons. For contrast, here are some clear signs that it’s time to rethink your service award solution:

1.  Your service awards are invisible. If no one ever talks about your service awards, it’s a pretty good sign you’re wasting your money. Great service awards will be raved about. Praised enthusiastically. Anything less isn’t worth doing.

2.  Your engagement scores are low. Perhaps you’re trying to make the FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For® list (like O.C. Tanner recently did). Perhaps you do an annual engagement survey. Either way, if your scores are coming in low, it’s definitely time for a change.

3.  Your service awards have become a joke. Yes, this happens. If you have an old or neglected service award program, it may be a source of unintentional office humor. When you get wind of that, it’s time to jump in and fix things.

4.  Your current solution is too rudimentary. Sometimes there’s a fine line between simple and inadequate. Software with gift cards may work for a while. But when you outgrow that, it’s quite possible to find a solution that’s more complete without having to resort to something complex.

5.  Your service awards are just plain boring. If you haven’t done anything new with your service awards in decades, they may be getting stale. If you’re stuck in an obvious service-award rut, open the windows and let in some fresh ideas.

6.  You don’t see a return on investment. Service award ROI should be measurable, trackable, and actionable. If you’re spending money on service awards with no specific business goals, or those goals aren’t being met, moving on is the right thing to do.

7.  People don’t feel appreciated. It really hurts when people say, “I’ve been here 25 years and all I get is a crappy gift card.” Creating meaningful career anniversaries and providing achievement-worthy awards is half art and half science. Hire a company with the expertise to give you both.

8.  Your current vendor forces you to “have it their way.” This is becoming more common, especially with gift card vendors who offer software and little else. If you find you’ve hired a one-trick-pony whose answer to every request for customization or training or branding or launch communication is “you don’t really need that,” it’s ok to say goodbye.

These insights were gleaned from our experience helping thousands of companies switch from service awards that get ignored to service awards employees love. If you think it’s time for an update, we’ve got 10 ways you can modernize your service awards.

By chris drysdale
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