The Olympics are just around the corner, and the best athletes in the world will soon take the stage to compete for the gold.
You probably know some of the famous names—Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, Jackie Joyner-Kersee. But what drives the underdogs to succeed? What gets them out of bed every day despite huge odds?
The answer, simply put, is recognition. Every athlete dreams of standing on the podium with the gold medal, and they’ll stop at nothing to get there.
And, though gold medals likely won’t be involved, a powerful performance recognition and awards program keeps everyone on your team motivated to win too.
What is Performance Recognition?
Simply put, performance recognition is acknowledging the alignment in behavior to organizational goals. When you reward your team for completing objectives in line with your company’s objectives, they push your company forward.
To be sure a performance recognition program is successful, an organization needs to know its business objectives inside and out. On top of that, those objectives must be translated in a clear, understandable way to managers and employees alike.
A tried-and-true way of enhancing performance recognition throughout an organization is through recognition awards that inspire your people to hit their goals. It can be as simple as “do X, earn Y”—or as complex as needed, depending on your goals.
The Five Traits of Great Recognition Awards
It’s not enough to pick awards at random or rely on gift cards to get the job done.
An award is an extension of your brand. What you offer to incent your team reflects on you, too. Your employees’ performance isn't just ordinary, so why should their awards be?
Here are the five traits of powerful recognition awards that really motivate your team:
1. They are relevant and sought-after
No one wants a dollar-store watch or some cut-rate steak knives. Great recognition awards are all about quality—and that means brand names that people really want.
More than that, giving your audience the ability to pool awards earned across multiple initiatives (for volunteering as well as closing that big sale, for instance) provides even greater buying power. Give them the name-brand awards worthy of their achievement.
2. They are extensions of your brand
Symbolic awards are a nice complement to tangible lifestyle awards. In terms of monetary value, a symbolic award isn’t as much as a gadget, for instance. But in the sense of visibility of your accomplishments—they’re invaluable. And they’re endlessly customizable to reflect your brand.
Recognition awards such as plaques or trophies are displayed for years in cubicles and offices, and provide visibility of an individual’s accomplishments to colleagues and customers. They also build loyalty within your brand.
3. They can be presented in person
Watching the Oscars wouldn’t be nearly as fun if the winners got their awards in the mail a week later. There’s something striking and tangible about receiving an award in person that gets your team motivated.
When your participants receive their award in person—in a ceremonial way or in a setting such as an on-site “shopping” experience—the whole experience is much more impactful. An on-site experience not only allows choice in awards, it provides a lasting memory of achievement.
4. They are immediately gratifying
If you’re looking to put extra emphasis on accomplishing specific goals or behaviors, immediate gratification is a must.
A select-a-gift option provides easy access to name-brand awards with a simple one-time redemption process. This award is perfect for short-term promotions.
5. They are strategic
It’s no surprise that what motivates one person on your team might not motivate another. So, don’t guess what will motivate your employees to perform—make sure you know.
Analyze what actually incents them. Give your employees the opportunity to choose what motivates them most to achieve their goals. As mentioned in Jane Larson’s post, “Why Employee Retention Means More than Just Service Awards,” a comprehensive plan is the best way to keep your employees engaged and motivated.
To get that plan, you need an awards provider that knows exactly what it takes to motivate your people. Consider ITA Group the Swiss Army knife of recognition awards—we’re a trusted resource ready to provide the right tool at the right time for your award and recognition needs.
With a powerful platform that lets employees throughout your organization earn recognition in a meaningful way, you’ll see a boost in performance along with the ability to drive bottom-line success.
Andrea, a Senior Awards Strategist at ITA Group, has been studying individual award strategy for 14 years. As a high school varsity volleyball coach, motivation is her game. We really dig her.