When it comes to choosing employee recognition software for large companies, leaders should ensure that an employee recognition program can fulfill company goals while integrating smoothly with existing technologies.
Recognition software represents a significant investment that will affect almost every part of a company, especially when the organization employs tens or hundreds of thousands of workers. A rewards and recognition program that helps the company recognize employees can be a great benefit to employee engagement, productivity, and retention. To best match a software solution to your desired outcomes, you’ll want to find a solution that fits your company culture.
But like any search for an enterprise-wide software solution, this challenge requires special consideration by company executives and HR leaders alike. In this article, we offer employee recognition software advice with the ten top features to look for when shopping for an employee recognition platform.
Large companies need a flexible, long-term, cloud-based solution that can be implemented globally throughout the organization. This includes features like Single Sign On (SSO) access so employees don’t have to wade through different integrations or applications. Verified security protocols are also essential for enterprise-level solutions.
Security is not an optional feature. Employee appreciation platforms must meet high standards such as EU-US Privacy Shield, a framework for transatlantic exchanges of personal data between the European Union and the United States; SOC 2 reporting to attest that controls are in place to safeguard data; and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance to meet Europe’s high standard for data privacy and security.
Part of O.C. Tanner’s Culture Cloud suite of apps for recognizing and rewarding employees, Culture Cloud Employee Recognition Software is an example of a highly secure solution that meets enterprise-level security requirements.
National organizations require a powerful recognition platform that allows leaders in multiple locations to show appreciation to their employees. Managers should be able to recognize team members for outstanding work, either with or without an attached monetary reward. Building a culture of recognition is essential to helping employees feel appreciated, improve performance, and gain a desire to stay with the organization longer. Recognition software with flexible and customizable features for leaders is essential.
But what about peer recognition? Peer-to-peer recognition, where employees recognize each other for their accomplishments, is also essential for the enterprise and can help improve employee engagement. In 4 Surprising Benefits of Peer-to-Peer Recognition Programs, we discover that as employees recognize each other more often, they increase altruistic social behaviors that benefit the organization such as helping, sharing, donating, and volunteering. This is in addition to the other positive emotions that come from being appreciated for good work. A personalized note from a peer can go a long way to lifting an employee’s spirits and fostering team bonding.
It makes good sense for growing enterprises to choose a recognition software that can integrate years-of-service (also called work-anniversary) awards. But HR leaders should look for a software that does more than merely deliver an award on a specific date to mark a special day. Employee recognition program ideas, such as the Yearbook solution from O.C. Tanner, can automatically collect team comments, photos, and memories to create a memorable digital and/or printed keepsake of the achievement.
A superior employee recognition platform should allow you to combine meaningful symbols of accomplishment (custom culture-defining awards) with the opportunity to choose a personal item from a catalog of gifts with enduring value. But the awards or gifts should match the milestone achieved. For example, recognition for a 1-year anniversary might include a thoughtful keepsake and a small gift, whereas a recognition for a bigger milestone in career achievement might include a more substantial gift and a more substantial award. The software should also facilitate printable certificates, presentation tips, alerts, and reminders.
Performance management is critical for company and HR executive teams to understand how a new recognition platform is performing across the organization. For example, if an objective of the program is to increase employee engagement, leaders will want the ability to access dashboards that highlight daily program activity. With intuitive dashboards, managers can gain real-time insights into what kind of recognition activity is happening across teams and the entire organization.
Keeping employees engaged may be one goal of a program. Another may be employee retention. Analytics that track the success of a recognition program over time, such as the period of a three-year contract, can help demonstrate the effect of the program in helping employees stay with the company longer. Custom reports allow HR leaders to demonstrate the program’s ROI to executives and other leaders across an enterprise.
Formal recognition of good work now happens just about anywhere, at any time. In fact, mobile users give recognition an average of 98% more than their non-mobile counterparts. For larger organizations, this can happen across departments, buildings, and even cities. Recognition software that includes a native mobile component makes it easier for employees to recognize in the moment. Employees have come to expect a good mobile experience as part of any workplace technology. The easier it is to show appreciation, the more recognition becomes part of a workplace culture.
However, it’s important to distinguish a native mobile app from a mobile-responsive website. Although any recognition site’s content can be optimized for a mobile device, a fully optimized mobile app for iOS or Android can deliver a richer, more enjoyable user experience. A goal of any mobile recognition software should be to integrate a positive mobile experience into a full company culture of appreciation.
This is an important feature that is especially important for larger organizations. Configurability of workflows means that you can apply certain rules—company-wide or by region—based on how you work. For example, you could choose to set specific award and point levels by geography or business unit. You could also choose to customize user experiences based on the type of recognition, such as safety award, sales award, etc. The ability to configure the approval workflow is also something you’ll want to ensure. That way you can have the right people approving certain kinds of nominations.
Another type of configurability to look for is the ability to scale at the team level. This means that leaders can create their own recognition programs to rally their team around a specific goal. Some leading solutions, including Culture Cloud, allow you to create a distinct set of rules, award levels, and budgets for recognition tied to specific team achievements. This kind of functionality allows individuals to feel recognized for team-specific accomplishments in addition to company-wide appreciation.
The literal features of an employee recognition software are not the only factors to weigh when evaluating a solution. Other factors to consider are the employee rewards and reward options. A superior program offers not only a wide selection of merchandise and gift cards, but also global fulfillment. This is important to large enterprises that operate in many national and/or international locations.
Employee recognition program examples can vary in scope. Some solutions offer only gift cards or a limited amount of merchandise. Others may offer thousands of third-party merchandise options. A program that offers a vast inventory of products and that manages its fulfillment in-house may be the most attractive option for many sizable organizations. A good reward variety will include brand-name merchandise, tech gadgets, adventures, concerts, sporting events, trips, gift cards, charitable giving, and more.
Recognition platforms are only as good as your ability to manage them—and that includes managing the budget. An effective rewards program is flexible and configurable. For example, does the software allow you to choose whether to be billed when points are awarded vs. when points are redeemed? Depending on how your organization allocates its budget, you may find one of these options more appropriate.
It’s also important to ensure it offers the ability to set budgets by location, business unit, or based on eligibility. This is especially important for larger organizations with a presence in many cities, states, or countries. You’ll want the option to set how often budgets are refreshed and also the ability to manage taxes in various locations. Finally, you’ll want robust reporting that allows you to track your budget usage and make adjustments accordingly.
Purpose is part of what makes up an organization’s workplace culture. The O.C. Tanner Institute’s Global Culture Report found that “employees are 121% more motivated to do their best work when recognition is tied to their organization’s purpose.” This is not only true of everyday performance recognition, but of years-of-service recognition as well. Leaders who regularly build a positive company culture are very much aware of how recognition can contribute to the effort.
When sharing remarks for a job anniversary, leaders should be personal, specific, genuine, and aligned with the organization’s purpose. This helps connect the accomplishments and growth of the award recipient to the purpose of the organization. It also helps other team members to connect to the purpose and goals of the team and company as a whole.
The O.C. Tanner Institute’s Global Culture Report clarified one goal organizations should include as part of their employee experience is to bring recognition into the flow of everyday work. “[Companies] should seek to embed the ability to recognize employees directly into employees’ existing processes. This means including the capability to recognize others in email, web browsers, social tools, intranets, HR portals, and other programs employees already use daily.”
One way to ensure maximum use of a program in an everyday work experience is through custom integrations. This means embedding the recognition software inside the technology that employees already use—like email clients and social media tools. That way, a team member can more easily share appreciation with an eCard or award without any extra effort. The more places employees can access recognition tools, the greater the chances that recognition microexperiences will happen frequently.
The topic of how to choose employee recognition software is broad enough that you’ll have to do some research—and that research may not lead to a single solution that wins in every category we’ve mentioned. That’s why it’s critical to choose a platform that will best match your company culture and integrate with your existing technology. But choosing a solution that will keep thousands of employees engaged and doing great work is well worth the effort. Odds are, you’ll narrow your search down to two or three best options.
As you consider the employee recognition software advice in this article, remember that the right employee recognition platform can be different for every organization. But for most enterprises, the ten employee recognition ideas and software features listed above will help you make a solid choice. As you make your final decision, you may also want to review Your Comprehensive Guide to Employee Recognition Programs. This article details many of the benefits of a recognition program, and how recognition impacts the six essential aspects of workplace culture: purpose, opportunity, success, wellbeing, appreciation, and leadership.
More Employee Recognition Resources
There are so many different ways to recognize, appreciate, and celebrate your employees. Here are more resources for guidance:
• Guide to Employee Recognition Programs
• 11 Employee Recognition Ideas
• 22 Awesome Employee Recognition Gift Ideas
• 10 Tips for How to Choose Employee Recognition Software
• Heartfelt Employee Appreciation Quotes to Say "Thank You"
• Benefits of Peer to Peer Recognition
• Best Practices for Virtual Employee Recognition
• Guide to Years of Service Awards
• Tips to Celebrate Work Anniversaries
• Employee Recognition in the Modern Workplace
• Culture Cloud: Modern Recognition Software
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