India is beginning to evolve in the space of employee recognition. Recognition is still clubbed with rewards and is an “Act of Faith”, a “Nice Thing to Do” in most companies. The largest companies in India are now beginning to design and implement a very structured recognition program. A few of them are pioneering the use of employee recognition to drive behaviors and achieve measurable business results. We expect this evolution to take at least another 6-10 years.
Most companies are using points as the preferred award currency i.e. every time an employee gets recognized, he/she gets points credited to his/her account, instead of a reward product. The employee then accumulates these points over a period of time and can redeem the points for merchandise from an independent catalog. Points have become the preferred currency, as it delinks the recognition from the rewards products and allows employees to choose gifts that they want. It also allows companies to manage their recognition budgets better, by assigning an appropriate rupee value to a point depending on the overall budget available in a year. This way, the recognition program stays constant and the spending can vary.
There are three categories of service providers in this space:
The first category is that of the rewards products providers – companies that provide gifts, certificates, etc. Companies in this space include Accor, Giftlinks, eYantra and several merchandise and gift product providers.
The second category is of those who offer a technology platform – a web-based solution using which managers can recognize and reward employees in a self-service model. The budget and the business rules governing the recognition system are built into the system avoiding the need for approvals every time a manager wants to recognize an employee. There are companies that sell this software on a SaaS (Software as a Service) model, where companies pay a very low monthly user fee with no capital expenditure. Companies in this space include QuadMo, BenefitsPLUS, RewardPort, etc. Many of these companies also provide a catalog of products for their clients to use. Some of the larger merchandise and gifting companies now offer a platform as a value addition. The technology platforms also offer a “Facebook” style portal to share and communicate recognition stories across the organizations. There are a few companies, such as TriggerO, which focus on only this component called as “Social Recognition”.
The third category is of the global recognition providers, like Rideau, who focus on helping clients achieve targeted business results using recognition, by identifying the behaviors to be impacted, designing a suitable recognition program, using a technology platform to implement the program and analyzing the data to monitor the progress and impact of the recognition initiative.
These companies price their services according to the impact the recognition program has on the desired business parameters. For example, if a company is looking at targeting better retention, a specific recognition program is designed, which focuses on enhancing the manager-employee relationship. It is a known fact that the manager-employee relationship has the single biggest impact on retention. Specific recognition initiatives include Service Milestone awards, extensive Spot Awards and unit/department level programs, rather than corporate wide programs. In the coming year, a lot more companies will spend money on Recognition & Rewards programs (1-2% of their annual payroll) and in 2-3 years, we can expect almost all companies to have internal rewards and recognition programs, with a technology platform in place.