Reward & Recognition - lessons from a Comms Pro

Having just enjoyed an inspiring time celebrating success at our annual reward and recognition event last week, I thought it was a good time to reflect and share some of our top tips on how far we've come as an organisation over the last two years in terms of appreciation. 

When we started this journey there was no structure around the area of rewarding and recognising colleagues for their achievements. It all depended on where you worked and what your manager was like. After seeing some challenging results in our annual survey we knew we had to make some changes. 

Working closely with our Reward Team we and launched the Values In Practice (ViP) scheme two years ago. This scheme allows colleagues to nominate each other, via an online form, for one of our five values and from this each nominee receives a value pin. Also every person who is nominated is automatically entered to win a monthly award, where an overall monthly winner is picked by a panel. These winners are then invited to a quarterly lunch as well as the annual gala dinner. At the dinner we choose one winner from each value to take home the award for the year - sounds complicated on paper but trust me it's really simple!! 

Now, by no means are we perfect. We still have areas that need work, but hopefully some of the lessons I learnt along the way that I share with you below may help if you're thinking about bringing in a new scheme:

1. Understand what your organisation needs

If you work in Internal Communications then hopefully you've built enough trust from people at all levels including front line to c-suite. Use these connections and ask people questions. What do they want? How do they feel? Is it too much? Not enough. Before we even started with planning we held various focus groups across the site and we listened. This really helped when we were building our case for change. 

2. Persevere

Remember the greater good- there are times when you start wondering if it's worth the hassle. We work in a busy job, and it can be constant. However, trust me when you see that first employee receive their award with a huge smile and tears in their eyes it makes it all worthwhile. 

3. Measure, measure and measure again

There is clear evidence that teams that have a great appreciation culture have less sickness - if your leaders are still unsure on whether it's worth the investment then run a pilot on a team with a manager who is willing to embrace the change. To gain buy in from leaders you will need to be prepared to show them the return on investment. Use every piece of data you have to make a compelling case. Lots of research has been done by reputable organisations so check them out and include them in your business case. 

4. Use EVERY opportunity you have for promotion

With so much noise going on across an organisation people will only start taking notice when you keep reminding them time and time again. The team involved in this project ensured that they spoke about the scheme in every meeting and conversation they had. Whether it was related to the project or not. We also encouraged managers to have ViP as a standing meeting agenda and we shared monthly reports on the number of nominations received from each area with the senior leadership team. 

5. Not everyone likes a fuss.

This is VERY important point to remember. Not everyone is the same and some people don't like their photos on the wall or in a magazine. Be respectful of this and just make sure that leaders understand that sometimes saying a quiet straightforward thank you works just as well. 

Advita Patel is Communications Manager at Manchester Airport Group as well as an enthusiastic member of the CIPR Inside national committee. You can read her blog at IC Words