How to boost employee recognition and reward ROI

Recognition MissionEmployee recognition and reward programmes are designed to drive desired behaviours and actions, and to motivate employees. And with the improving economy they are playing an increasingly prominent role in boosting business results and achieving core business objectives.

Studies tell us that to get the best out of your staff it’s vital to recognise and reward them regularly, but many businesses are struggling to do this effectively according to research from Sodexo Benefits and Rewards Services. As a result, vital HR programmes may not deliver the return on investment or provide the improvement in business performance that was promised.

When asked to explain what an incentive and recognition programme meant to them, respondents to the Sodexo Benefits and Rewards Services research consistently mentioned three characteristics:

  1. It needs to be easily communicated across the business
  2. Managers must use it daily to motivate and engage their staff with flexible and engaging communications tools
  3. It must be easily linked to key HR goals and objectives

It’s clear from the research that if organisations want to boost the ROI on their recognition and reward programmes then they need to address each of these characteristics.
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Communication is crucial

When it comes to getting the message out about employee recognition and reward programmes, it’s important to ensure that HR professionals identify the most relevant communication channel(s).

The Importance Of CommunicationWith diverse employee generations and locations, you can no longer rely on traditional communication methods alone. Instead, you need to use the range of tools that are available to you and that meet your employees’ communication needs. This could include online and technology-based media, such as intranets, social media and emails, but also posters, flyers, articles in company newsletters, and adverts and reminders on office equipment such as mouse mats and coasters.

It’s also important to ensure that communication about the programme is consistent and regular. HR professionals should learn from their colleagues in Marketing and create an on-going communications plan.


Tools to deliver effective programmes

Organisations need to have the right tools in place to manage and deliver recognition and reward programmes. Without the right tools it will be difficult to determine whether the programme is achieving its objectives and, as a result, HR professionals will struggle to demonstrate its value to senior management.

The right tools will enable HR professionals and managers to access the data they need to report on and measure the programme’s results and it will also make it easy for managers to participate in the scheme and engage staff, for example allowing managers to instantly recognise employees or incorporating a communication toolkit.

The research highlighted tools that HR professionals would find useful:

Useful Tools Organisations with 250 – 4999 employees Organisations with 500+ employees
Employee engagement survey 65% 44%
Activity reports on users within the reward programme 35% 63%
ROI calculators 18% 25%
Motivation/engagement health check to benchmark against others in the sector 47% 69%


Aligning programme with HR goals and objectives

There are many factors to consider when setting up a recognition or reward programme, but perhaps the most important is to ensure that the programme and HR objectives are closely aligned. In other words, the programmes should encourage the behaviours and actions that HR, and also the wider business, wants to encourage. For example, if an HR objective is to reduce absenteeism the programme could reward participation in wellbeing initiatives that promote healthy lifestyle changes.

Download our guide to reward and recognition

Reward and recognition guide

This guide will assist programme managers to develop a scheme that will improve the performance of your people, engage them and make best use of your available budget.

Click here to download

To boost business results and achieve core objectives HR professionals need to ensure they are; communicating in an appropriate way with both managers and employees, using tools that enable managers to recognise and reward employees in a timely manner, demonstrating ROI to senior management through MI, and linking the programme objectives to both HR and business objectives.


According to the research from Sodexo Benefits and Rewards Services, the value of employee recognition and reward programmes is not in doubt. The key going forward will be to make sure both senior managers and staff are actively engaged and participating.


John Sylvester

John is responsible for the motivation division of p&mm ltd and a Director on the board of the IPM. Specialising in developing, implementing and directing many large scale staff motivation, recognition and employee communications programmes.
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