Lisa Bridgers, VP of Human Resources & Recruiting for Rockfish Digital, shares her thoughts on rewarding and recognizing in a meaningful way. 

As a human resources professional, I see tons of paper every single day…often accompanied with a list of things to do or check off. Check this box to identify your gender, check this box if you’re able to relocate for your new job, check this box if you want your signature included on every email and so on and so on. Seems like we’re constantly faced with checking the box to ensure we’ve done what we’re supposed to do for the day, the week, the year.

Unlike all the examples above, employee recognition is not something you can simply “check the box.” If you try to check the box by having a bunch of senior-level leaders gather in a conference room to brainstorm the next top-down recognition initiative, I promise you, it won’t work. Programs that feel forced out by leadership are destined to fail. Programs that stand on the virtue of money alone will wind up the same way.

I’ve survived far too many forced employee recognition programs in my career. Turn to any employee survey and you’ll find that money is NOT the top motivator. The words reward and recognition come up over and over again. People want to feel recognized and appreciated for their efforts in a real and genuine way, especially in the work place. Simply put, there is no recognition more significant to an employee than that provided by their peers.

Think about the people you work alongside every day.    You know their strengths, their spouse’s name, their kids’ names and maybe even what they had for breakfast today. You know what they’re all about.  When your colleague went way above and beyond to save your project a couple of weeks ago, you wanted to recognize that behavior and say, “Thanks for the help!” So, you run to the HR or accounting office begging for a gift card to show your thanks. Then, you have to figure out which gift card is best and wish you could have done something a bit more personal and meaningful to show your appreciation.

Enter, Rockfish Rewards…now called YouEarnedIt!

YouEarnedIt takes all the guesswork out of creating an employee recognition program, can happen real-time and (this is the best part) you don’t have to go ask anyone for something to show your appreciation to your colleagues. You, the employee, get to decide how many points to give away, to whom they are given, on your time, and in your words.  All the power to recognize and reward your coworkers is at your fingertips!   Rockfish is built on core values that each of us strives to emulate- we put both our hearts and minds into our work.  Peer recognition helps to drive the connection between the two.

The result is an engaged workforce with the ability to give their peers a ‘virtual high five’ anytime they want.  When the YouEarnedIt site launched and we moved away from managing the program via an excel spreadsheet, the impact in our environment was unbelievable.  Our employees continued to reward and recognize their coworkers with YouEarnedIt points and the redemption requests went up and up. Our rewards catalog is chock-full of excellent things for which to redeem your points: Louboutin shoes, Tory Burch shoes, Apple TVs, iPads, and even a Ducati motorcycle. We can add, remove and change out things in the catalog as well; giving us the option of making sure the catalog items remain relevant to our employees. I hear stories almost daily of what Rockfishers have purchased with their points and every time it brings a smile to my face. Why? Because a workforce that feels recognized and rewarded tends to be more productive…yes, it’s true…see mention of employee survey above.

Today an employee shared with me how her friends are very jealous of all the loot she’s racked up via YouEarnedIt points at Rockfish stating “we get it; your job is way cooler than ours”.  They are right – except it’s her company that’s way cooler than theirs because we didn’t just check the box.

Lisa Bridgers is the Vice President, Human Resources & Recruiting at Rockfish Digital.  You can follow Lisa on Twitter: @RockfishRecruit.