How data-driven reward programs can refocus employees

Posted by Mike Ryan

In this new blog, Mike Ryan looks at how to use employee recognition program data to drive better outcomes for your organization and make informed and educated decisions, for future expansion and growth.

In these unprecedented times the HR community, like any other business discipline, is expected to utilize every resource at its disposal. Those responsible for the organization’s talent base are being asked to make decisions and suggest new ideas that impact the company’s ability to not just weather the COVID storm, but to set the stage for future expansion and growth.

Those are ambitious orders to follow. Guiding the business and its people through a worldwide pandemic is difficult to say the least, even for the most seasoned leader. But for those who have a firm handle on what their reward and recognition programs are telling them (along with what they can do), that mission just got a little easier.

One way to keep your employees focused is to operate from a more informed point of view. If you are one of the many companies out there that built its business case for recognition on the anticipated gains in organizational output, a data-driven rewards program should still be able to get you there.

Granted not everyone with the responsibility of maximizing the organization’s talent base has made that leap just yet.  Only 54% of companies say they rely on data to improve their processes. That means that about half are operating with blinders on. And although most HR leaders agree that people-related decision making should be based on some form of analytical insight, only a small fraction consistently make use of what their current information sets are  telling them about problems, opportunities, or suggested solutions.

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So how can you use your own employee recognition program’s data to drive better outcomes for your organization? The answers lie in remembering these three things:

1) “Descriptive” reports are only half the story

“Descriptive level” reports are essential to “managing” any initiative. They let you see how the program is doing from an operational point of view. We are talking about basic information here, things like: How many people have registered? Who’s earning what? And how are the program’s activity levels impacting budget projections? These basic views help you keep a finger on the pulse of the program.

But experienced leaders know that these descriptive reports only tell half the story. To get where you want to be (and ahead of where you have been) a more complete—and perhaps more comparative—analysis is needed. Such approaches not only allow authorized managers to dive deeper into the program’s data, they help to uncover and address issues faster.

For example, by using comparative reports you can determine why one segment of the employee population is succeeding while another may be underperforming altogether. Here planners can combine inputs like engagement scores and manager recognition patterns, and they can identify interventions and deploy them while there is still time to impact any of the variables in question. As an outcome, they may add “steps-to-success” behavioral type goals in addition to tangible ones; they might promote mentoring between lesser experienced and more knowledgeable colleagues, or they can focus employees on key learning objectives supported by gamification techniques. Either way, you might be surprised by the direction the data points to.

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2) Offer up suggestions that are proactive, on-point and relevant

Having a greater depth of insight (along with the flexibility your rewards platform gives you), HR executives can use their systems to refocus workers during the pandemic. That’s important—especially today—because CEOs expect individuals charged with attracting, retaining, and optimizing organizational workforces to come to the planning table armed with ideas that are proactive, on-point and, above all, relevant to the world we live in.

Leaders who are responsible for elevating an employee’s work efforts need to offer up more than lagging indicators—they need to be equipped with the ability to influence forward-looking business outcomes. Anything that practitioners can do to pinpoint opportunities will make the programs they manage more valuable to their organizations.

Progressive human capital leaders know they can transform their non-cash reward and recognition systems into business tools that help influence the company’s people to refocus on new goals (or to just work differently). Armed with these motivational tools, they know they can have a more direct and a more positive effect on the performance of the business no matter what’s happening across society.

Senior management expects their HR leaders, to be data-savvy stewards who can suggest new ways of influencing and encouraging employees. And they expect more than advice. They also expect them to be able to do something about it!

3) Make all advice “actionable”

Having a strong diagnostic perspective is obviously a good thing. But having the ability to select, separate and focus key segments within your employee population on specifics that advance the business is an even greater advantage.

There is a noticeable correlation between data-driven talent management and better business production. How companies use their rewards programs to influence organizational performance is an important source of value creation.

What’s happening now across the global economy is a prime example. COVID-19 has changed everything about the way we work.  Salespeople struggle to find prospects and conduct compelling phone/web meetings, while internal employees work in isolation from one another and perform their business via Zoom and other digital tools.

Now more than ever, progressive HR leaders can provide the insight and the tools companies need to “refocus” their people on behaviors and outcomes that work.  More importantly, they can pinpoint the performance improvements that either corporate leadership or local supervisors can use to grow in a down market.

To discuss how we can help build a connected and engaged workforce within your business, contact us today. Or check out how we have successfully implemented reward solutions in these businesses.

A 25 year industry veteran, Mike is responsible for expanding CR Worldwide’s business portfolio in the United States.