How to Choose an Employee Recognition Provider

So your boss has decided that your company needs to improve its employee engagement and company culture and you’ve been tasked with finding the company a recognition program that can do both of these things. Here are a few pointers on where to start!

What is your company culture?

If your workforce is pretty young and tech-savvy you should go for a more social interface that is mobile-ready and offers lots of online reward redemption options. Stay away from restrictive catalogs, jewelry, and traditional branded reward items like plaques and engraved watches. However, if your workforce is in a manufacturing environment with little access to email, you’ll want something simpler and at least partially paper-based. An older workforce might call for a more traditional employee rewards selection. If you’re not sure of what people will like it’s a good idea to do a short survey to get some insight.

How much customization will your employee recognition program need?

This is a tough one because you often won’t know the answer to this question until you begin to build the program, especially if it’s your first time doing so. While you might be tempted to go with a company that has solely an on-premise solution, be aware that these platforms are usually very restrictive; you are likely to end up compromising your needs or employing time-consuming workarounds. With a SaaS platform, oftentimes you have a lot more flexibility when it comes to customizing the platform to your company’s needs, such as with

How does the company make its money?

This one is important because it determines what you’ll be spending your rewards budget on, so don’t be afraid to ask! Many traditional rewards providers offer their software either free or at a very low price because they mark up the merchandise in their rewards malls anywhere from 35 to 50%. That means when an employee orders a $50 blender you’ll pay around $70 for it. The retail value will likely not be found on your invoice, and on the recognition website itself it will be listed at something like 900 points. Look for a company that is transparent in their pricing so you know exactly what you’re getting. Also watch for hidden fees like per user fees, points that expire, and shipping fees (which also can be marked up).

Does the company ask about your program goals?

A company that is just looking to sell more jewelry and merchandise out of a warehouse will inevitably recommend that you increase your rewards budget and give out more points in response to any problem. Any vendor that truly has your best interests in mind will ask what you are trying to achieve with the program and incorporate techniques such as non-monetary recognition, social media, communications, and training to achieve it where appropriate. They should also be willing to facilitate rewards such as cash or even days off that do not represent a profit margin for them if those are the best motivators for your workforce.

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