How to Reward and Recognize Employees in E2.0?

By Bert Sandie posted 06-20-2010 22:47


As we roll-out and gain maturity with Enterprise 2.0 (E2.0) in our workplaces there is a desire to reward and recognize employees who best exemplify the desired behaviors and actions in using the solutions effectively to help achieve business needs.

There is a great opportunity that exists to reward and recognize employees for their contributions and participation. My advice is that each company needs to carefully examine their corporate culture, values and existing recognition/reward programs to better understand what makes sense for their company with regards to E2.0.

There are a number of options that can be considered for recognition-reward systems each with their own pro’s and con’s.  Listed below are some of the more common systems that companies and organizations are using today.

Reputation Points – based on a users activity in the E2.0 solution, a reputation point system can be created that automatically is updated based on user actions. In such a system, we want to reward the behaviors we desire inside our company. Here are some ideas on behaviors to consider rewarding reputation points for:

  • User Profile completion – based on the completion level of the profile different amounts of points are awarded
  • Posting content (articles, videos, blogs) – points are awarded for contributing different types of content; the value of the points could increase based on number of employees who read, comment, and/or vote for the content
  • Joining and participating in a community – reward points for creating forum discussions, answering questions, etc.
  • Reading content – awards points for reading content, this is especially relevant when the content is directly related to the employee’s job function which can be determined based on data such as tags, communities, job classification, etc.

In most reputation systems, the points are publically displayed in association with an employee’s users profile and displayed on a leaderboard. A leaderboard best practice is to show different views of the data to highlight subject matter expert contributors based on different criteria. For example, a leaderboard could filter/sort data based on criteria such as:

  • Time - can filter based on a time period such as all-time, last 30 days, last 90 days
  • Community – selecting a community will filter based on it’s members
  • Content type – can filer based on top contributors of videos, blogs, slides, etc.

Reputation point systems have a tendency to get complex quickly as they need to deal with items such as:

  • Point Value – how many points is a particular action or behavior worth?
  • Decay – in very sophisticated systems points decay based on time of contribution to allow new-active users to rise and existing-inactive users to fall in the standings
  • Garbage-In = Garbage-Out – in most systems the points are based on quantity of interaction and contributions as opposed to quality. An individual can “game” the system by contributing lots of useless information to be awarded lots of points.
  • Usage restrictions – depending on the country and company there may be usage restrictions on using a point system that is associated with an employee. For example, there may be a restriction on using a point system in a particular union environment.

A couple of examples of systems that use reputation point systems include:

  • Jive – uses a reputation point system that based on contributions
  • Stack Overflow – uses a concept of badges to drive a points reputation system

One school of thought is to track a key set of behaviors and actions that you want to recognize akin to reputation points but to not publically display the points or leader boards, but to only use this data to recognize/reward the users. For many companies this is a system that has worked effectively as the top contributors can be reviewed monthly or quarterly by a community manager who can also examine the quality of the content then reward/recognize accordingly.

This leads us to a question of what are some effective ways to recognize and reward the actual employees for contributing in a meaningful manner to our companies. There are a number of simple and effective mechanisms to achieve this:

  • Personalized Email – an email from the company E2.0 evangelist/director to the employee that Cc’s their manager and their manager’s manager (i.e., high enough up the food chain to be meaningful). The email clearly explains the contribution, value/ROI to the company, and thanks the employee for taking the time to share their expertise, experience and knowledge. [NOTE: To date this has proven in my own experiences to be the most effective recognition and reward.]
  • Public Recognition – listing out the top contributors each month or quarter in a company-wide newsletter and/or on the E2.0 site.
  • Awards – A number of companies create a set of quarterly or annual awards where employee can be nominated for their contribution, winners are selected and then publicly announced.
  • Nominal Gifts - nominal gifts are provided to top contributors (i.e., a $5 to 50 gift certificate for Starbucks, Amazon or Apple)
  • Compensation – in some companies there is a form of compensation associated with major annual awards. The awards are in the $500 or greater category to be significant that employees take notice.

Based on the experiences of most of my peers at other companies with E2.0 solutions, the most popular rewards are the ones where employees are publicly recognized via a personalized email, company newsletter, and/or a small nominal gift. The use of an Awards or Compensation rewards strategy for recognition is used less often due to the added logistics, costs and time involved.

Before deciding on recognition-reward systems, please take some time to think carefully about your company culture and values, what behaviors and actions you want to recognize, and what types of rewards will motivate your employees to continue to participate in E2.0 solutions that drive your business forward.

If you have any questions or feedback based on your own experiences, please leave a comment.

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