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How to Use Data from Your Recognition and Incentive Programs

Any decent recognition and incentive software platform should offer a reporting suite that shows you more than just how many rewards or points employees have spent and earned. That is actually the least useful metric when it comes to actually moving the needle on behaviors! So if your platform does have a whole list of reports, what exactly should you be looking for?

  • Check department and manager recognition activity against performance: Your platform should allow you to segment recognition activity by department, manager, etc.—whatever is most useful for the way your business is structured. If you notice that a certain manager rarely recognizes her employees and her department has not reached its goal the past two quarters, perhaps it’s time for a conversation and/or some further training on management techniques to effectively engage employees.
  • Most/least used values or award types: A well-structured recognition program aligns to a company’s core values—things like teamwork, innovation, customer focus, etc., and your reports should allow you to segment activity accordingly. If you notice that one or more of these core values is rarely recognized in your company, it might be a cause for concern. Managers might need some coaching in fostering teamwork, for example, or perhaps you should interview employees to find out what is blocking them from providing excellent customer service. It may just be that the language describing that value needs to be made clearer for employees to understand when to cite it.
  • Look at employees who are recognized vs. not: Your platform should have a report showing frequency of recognitions for each employee, or at least allow you to export all activity into Excel so you can sort it yourself. If you notice that a particular employee has gotten a disproportionate number of recognitions, it could be a red flag for fraud, or simply a sign that he is doing an outstanding job and should possibly be considered for a raise or promotion. If another employee is rarely or never recognized, check out his place in the organizational hierarchy. Is the employee isolated from working with others, reporting to a manager who is not making recognition a priority, or simply not doing the best job he could? In any case it’s a good idea to look further into it and make sure no employee feels neglected, which is a sure path to disengagement.
  • Cost per recognition: This report will help you to see if you have a proper mix of non-monetary and monetary recognition in the program. Simply, it’s the rewards spend divided by the total number of recognitions within the system. If your cost per recognition is high, then it means that you need to promote more non-monetary recognition within your organization, which will increase engagement without increasing your rewards budget. We like to see somewhere between 65% and 80% of recognitions be non-monetary.
  • Increase in desired actions with incentives: Incentive programs are the easiest to measure, since the actions they encourage are well-defined. Sell x amount of widgets to get y reward; complete x training modules and get y badge. Any incentive program’s reporting suite should be able to show you how often employees are achieving the goals you set out for them. You should also be able to compare results between time periods and promotions to analyze productivity and figure out the best structure for future incentive promotions.
  • Overall program website activity—logins, pages viewed, mobile usage, etc:For any program, the basic metrics provided by Google Analytics or your vendor’s own proprietary tracking are important to check up on periodically. The advantage to using a vendor’s tracking mechanisms is that you should be able to segment them based on your company’s hierarchy so that you can see activity by department, location, etc. rather than just overall. (Google Analytics will only give you an aggregate for your company.) You can also see which pages of the site are getting the most traffic, and how many people are accessing it via which browser and device. This information will show you things like whether you should bother optimizing for IE9, or that nobody is reading your newsletter so perhaps you should place it in a different spot on the home page (or make it more interesting!).

No matter how good your platform’s reporting is, there is no magic bullet to figuring out performance or engagement at any company. Many of these reports are simply a first step to finding problems or opportunities. Time must be taken by management—not just HR—to analyze them and ensure that this valuable information does not go to waste. And your vendor should be able to help fill in the gaps by helping with things like data integration and periodic program review and analysis.

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