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Recognition in The Real World
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Learn from the best, tips from MIT on building employee engagement

Posted By Kathie Pugaczewski, RPI, Monday, October 29, 2018

Each year, companies are spending almost $750 million per year on engagement. Companies know that creating an engaged culture is important, but the problem is that the spend is not being returned with only 50% of the potential market has been tapped, with only half of the organizations stating an interest in engagement programs actually investing.

So the question needs to be asked, how can you increase employee engagement and create a recognition culture within your organization?

In 2016, RPI awarded Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT as it is better known as, the top award amongst recognition professionals, the RPI Best Practice Standards® Award. The institute began their award winning recognition program in 2001. Prior to this, the Institute was seen by staff as a “praise free zone”. So how in the span of 15 years did the Institute create a major internal cultural shift and build a recognition program that continues to grow? The answer lies within the seven RPI Best Practice Standards®.

Make it robust (Standard 1: Recognition Strategy)

By creating a robust recognition strategy, MIT was built a recognition program that has legs. A multi-tiered model approach, like the one used at the Institute, allows leaders and employees to provide rewards and recognition for all levels of behavior. As we know, recognition does not always have to mean a large ceremony every time an employee or coworker does something worthy of recognition. Instead, building daily “on the spot” awards into a program allows for flexibility and authenticity to the awards. Making the accomplishments measurable ends credibility to the program and removes questions of favoritism, a plague that we know can sink a recognition program in an instant.

Top Down Buy In (Standard 2: Management Responsibility)

To kick start their program, MIT tapped into their senior leaders and staff to be their program champions. From the start, they were included in the development and roll out of the program. Senior leaders and managers serve as key role models by encouraging attendance and presenting at the recognition events, and utilizing the program themselves. Often times, these leaders make up half or close to half all of the “on-the-spot” awards submitted and are frequent nominators for the larger awards.  

Train, Teach, and Train again (Standard 5: Recognition Training)

The MIT model does not only work because of it’s multi-tiered approach to recognition, but because at the start of their employment with MIT, staff are trained on the program. Throughout their careers, MIT provide staff with additional trainings on the program and ample opportunities to be involved in planning of the large year end event. There are articles and tools readily available to all staff and employees on the program and an intranet site dedicated solely to the program creating a single location for all program information.

The MIT Recognition program is a phenomenal example of a program that is built to last. These are only 3 of the key ways the MIT program has grown into an adaptable and award winning part of their culture.

Read more about MIT’s award

Learn more about the 7 best practices for building your recognition program and how you can become a certified recognition professional.

Tags:  employee engagement  employee recognition  employee retention  MIT  RPI 7 Best Practices 

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RPI 7 Best Practices® 2016 Overall Winner MIT Shares Their Management Strategy

Posted By Sue Yoemans, Monday, April 23, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, April 24, 2018

RPI Planning Phases/Recognition Strategy Model


Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Senior Leadership and Recognition

MIT has 32 individuals in senior leadership roles across the Institute.  They may be leading departments with under 100 staff members, or heading entire schools with staff in the thousands. Regardless of the size of the department, lab, or center, MIT’s senior leaders are aware that recognition is, in part, modeled in their participation in the program. Their involvement is evidenced in the full cycle of the program; from initiating policies to presentation of recipient awards.

To ensure that the recognition program would be adopted throughout all areas of MIT, the originating Committee worked collaboratively to build a program - and consensus. With buy-in from senior leaders, the Recognition Committee established a network of 24 Key Contacts across MIT, and a recognition budget for each of the 24 areas based on head-count in various areas.  These structures and designated administrators have meant that senior leaders are involved where they are most needed: communicating and encouraging the use of the program by staff, as seen in their involvement in the communications effort. MIT’s President Reif annually sends an email to every staff member and student at MIT, promoting the nomination period for the MIT Excellence Awards + Collier Medal, and later – encouraging attendance at the ceremony, which he opens and presents several of the awards.

Senior leaders and managers also serve as role models by encouraging attendance and presenting at recognition events, and utilizing the program themselves, by submitting nominations for formal or informal recognition.  Managers and senior leaders frequently utilize the option to give staff Spot Appreciation awards, and in many areas their submissions make up half or close to half of all Spot awards submitted.  Managers and senior leaders are frequent nominators for Infinite Mile and Excellence awards as well.

Managers and senior leaders are always involved in the presentation of DLC Infinite Mile awards, and for the Excellence Awards and Collier Medal.

 

Tags:  employee recognition strategy  Management responsibility  RPI 7 Best Practices 

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Standard Success Stories: RBC’s Recognition Strategy

Posted By Jess Myers, RPI, Tuesday, January 9, 2018
Untitled Document

Note: RPI’s Seven Best Practice Standards are the cornerstone of successful employee recognition and rewards programs. In 2018, we are taking a closer look at each of the seven standards and RPI members who have been recognized for their practice of those standards. In the first installment, we take a look at Recognition Strategy, and the award-winning way that RBC practices this standard. The RPI Best Practice Awards nominations are now open for nominations through February 1, 2018.

RBC, based in Toronto, was a recipient of the Overall RPI Best Practice® Award in 2017, and is a shining example of how to do recognition strategy right. From their award-winning entry, they offer several samples of the ideas and actions behind their recognition strategy efforts.

All of RBC’s recognition and reward programs under the RBC Performance brand align with their Purpose, Vision and Values to become a leader in financial services wherever in the world they serve customers. That vision and those values help drive their recognition programs and are part of the criteria within the RBC Performance recognition and reward program.

RBC Performance, which is their flagship program, was launched in 1993 as a sales incentive points reward and recognition program and now serves over 75,000 employees. Among the core points of the program are:

  • Day-to-Day Recognition – RBC associates give and receive recognition to and from their peers and from retail branch managers and regional leaders on a regular basis.
  •  InstantThanks – RBC’s social recognition program permits employees so say thanks and send commendation comments and recognition for demonstrating our values and excellent customer service.
  • Branch Huddles – These happen before the bank door opens. Here customer service and product information is given. Managers and team members weave in recognition as often as they can.
  • Informal Recognition – RBC Performance is a comprehensive recognition system dedicated to improving RBC’s financial and service performance results.
  • RBC Performance Nominations and Awards – Employees can recognize individuals and teams who consistently go beyond expectations and make a difference in the business. RBC employees can nominate a colleague or team with RBC Performance’s online nomination feature. Nominations are based on RBC’s values and other key behaviors, and are expected to focus on outstanding performance in these categories. Managers select nominations based on merit and can award point values to send to the employee. The number of nominations and awards received contributes to selecting who attends the RBC Performance Conference.
  • Scratch ‘n Win Cards – Managers can give these cards for on-the-spot recognition. Employees virtually “scratch” a bar online to reveal a point value or the chance to be entered into a monthly draw.
  • Sales Campaigns – Managers in retail banking can recognize and reward employees and teams with points for achieving highest sales or service activities in any quarterly sales campaign.

The company also believes in more formal recognition, with a series of events and awards:

  • Leo Awards – This is RBC’s Academy-award-style celebration event. Employees who showcase the very best in sales, service or support are recognized at a special event during the RBC Performance Conference with “The Leo” Award. Regional leaders select Leo Award recipients from RBC Performance Conference recipients.
  • RBC Performance Conference – This is the best-of-the best annual conference for RBC’s top performers. Each region has a set number of eligible nominees to select. Quarterly Point Award winners are eligible candidates. Regional presidents and senior leaders choose conference attendees from across all roles. Conference winners are announced at each Regional Gala event. Each awardee receives a registration package to attend the Conference.
  • RBC Service Awards – Employees receive a choice of a gift award item on their milestone anniversary at two, five, 10, 15 years and in five-year increments up to 50-year level.

The results have not only been award from RPI, but recognition of RBC as one of the best places to work in Canada. For more information on RBC and their success with Recognition Strategy, please visit the company culture website at: https://www.rbc.com/careers/people-culture-awards.html

Tags:  employee engagement  formal recognition  RBC  recognition  recognition strategies  RPI 7 Best Practices  Strategy  success stories  Toronto 

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Recognition Communications That They Will Actually Read

Posted By Jess Myers, RPI, Monday, June 19, 2017

A year ago it was estimated that on average, the American worker gets 88 emails in their inbox every day. Of those, 76 of them are work-related, with another dozen classified as personal or Spam. In the 12 months since that number was determined, it’s almost certainly gotten worse.

So amid that daily tsunami of electronic mail, how do you create and distribute recognition messages that your target audience will actually read? That was the question posed, and answered in a 2016 RPI webinar that’s available for association members.

The 45-minute webinar is presented by Jessica Schwaller and Katherine Shick of Kforce, Inc., a Florida-based professional staffing firm which has been a Best in Class award  winner  for Standard 1:Recognition Strategy and Standard 4: Communication Plan for RPI’s Best Practice Awards.

To cut through the clutter that fills our inboxes every day, and create recognition programs that get noticed, they first focus on the company’s mission, which stresses that Kforce employees are recognized, inspired and valued.

Some tips from the Kforce recognition team:

  • Be creative
    • Subject lines are what first catch someone’s attention. Focus on them, as the front door to your email communication and your first opportunity to catch someone’s eye.
    • Brainstorm with your team over coffee, and look for ways to make an emotional connection.
    • Think outside the normal world of day-to-day corporate communications.
  • Have goals
    • Among their stated goals for employee engagement programs are to create company awareness, to recognize performance and to positively change behavior.
    • Measure your success by looking at things like how many emails were opened, how many links were clicked, etc., and learn from the success or lack thereof from various campaigns.
  • Be audience aware
    • If you’re recognizing an employee (we’ll call him Steve) the message you send will surely be interesting to Steve. But work to make it engaging and interesting to Steve’s co-workers as well.
    • Tell the whole story, including Steve’s background, and what Steve did to deserve recognition, so others see an example they can emulate.
  • Try different vehicles
    • Email has become the standard for office communication, and it’s very valuable, but don’t limit yourself to email.
    • Use your company intranet. Send a postcard (everyone loves mail). Use your phone and YouTube to create a fun video. Hand out printed fliers in the office.
    • And think about where you can use those vehicles, beyond just the recipient’s cubicle. Be creative with office common areas, and even outside the office to reach employees.

Schwaller and Shick use myriad examples of Kforce initiatives that give supervisors freedom to acknowledge the subculture of their own groups, and to provide input to tailor messages and efforts that are timely, touching and telling. They provide many examples in the webinar which have proven to be valuable to recognition professionals as they work on eye-catching efforts in their own settings.

For more information, please visit the RPI website at Recognition.org. Premium Practitioner Members and Business Partners get full access to almost 30 on-demand webinars. Basic Practitioner Members which is free get limited access to webinars.

Tags:  est Practice Awards  mployee engagement  ommunication Strategy  RPI 7 Best Practices  ulture 

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