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Recognition in The Real World
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How Top Companies Reward Employees

Posted By Ava Ewald, Thursday, March 26, 2020
RPI developed its 7 Best Practice Standards® to help your organization recognize your employees and increase overall engagement. Standard 1 is recognition strategy and standard 2 is recognition training. Learn how to reward your employees in the best way possible — read on to see how some of the top companies are doing it so that you can implement it into your training process.



Apple is said to reward independent thinking. They routinely reward employees with stock, product discounts and volunteering incentives. Additionally, they throw parties for their employees such as the annual Apple Beer Bash which has featured Weezer and Falloutboy.



Zappos is well-known for their recognition programs. There is the “Zollar” program, where employees can earn Zollars by helping others or doing particularly good work. Employees redeem them at a little store with company swag. They also have employee-to-employee rewarding where co-workers can give each other $50. They definitely top the list of creative rewards.



Google has their “gThanks” program, where employees are encouraged to shout-out other employees when they have done something great. There is also a peer bonus program, where co-workers can nominate each other for cash bonuses. Google has a wide variety of awards, big and small, to help motivate their employees.


O.C. Tanner

O.C. Tanner creates employee recognition software, so it makes sense that they made Fortune 100’s “Best to Work For” list. According to Life Hack, they use a lot of fun rewards such as merchandise, gift cards and trophies. They also lean hard into employee-to-employee recognition.



In his first letter to shareholders, CEO Jeff Bezos explained that employees should act like owners. He also outlined a long-term strategy for keeping talent. “Amazonians,” as employees are called, receive long-term stock options. Additionally, after one year at the company, Amazon will pay 95% of the tuition for courses that teach skills that are in-demand, even if they are not relevant to Amazon.


Become an RPI member! Learn how here.


To learn more about RPI’s 7 Best Practice Standards, click here.


Tags:  recognition  rewards  RPI 7 Best Practices 

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How Rewards Build Company Culture

Posted By Ava Ewald, Tuesday, March 24, 2020
 RPI strives to help build and refine recognition programs to help employees become more engaged at your organization. They have developed the 7 Best Practice Standards® to guide this process. Standard 3 is recognition program measurement, which is key to the success of your program.


Rewards can make individuals feel valued, but how does it impact the larger company culture?


1)      They reinforce good qualities

Writing for Forbes, William Craig explained that when you recognize something an employee has done well, you are showing the rest of the company what behavior you like to see. This is a much more positive approach than condemning someone for something they have done wrong. Consistent rewards will make it clear what employees can do to help the company.

2)      They make work enjoyable

According to Fast Company, rewards simply make work fun. If employees come in every day knowing there is a potential for a pizza party or a happy hour, it makes the work more fun. A balance between hard work and fun is key to a great company culture.

3)      They serve as an opportunity to show company values

The prior Forbes article explained that rewards can be used to promote company values. If your company values health, create a reward for those who hit the gym the most that month, for example. Rewards are a great way to show what your company thinks is important.

4)      They make individuals feel important

Fast Company also explained that rewards emphasize everyone’s place in the company. By rewarding one person’s strengths, you are validating them as an individual. This is especially important with bigger companies where it is easy for individuals to go unnoticed. Pulling people into the spotlight with rewards shows everyone that they are valued and important to the company’s mission.


Become a Certified Recognition Professional! Learn more here.


To learn more about RPI’s 7 Best Practice Standards, click here.


Tags:  culture  rewards  RPI 7 Best Practices 

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How to Reward Consistently

Posted By Ava Ewald, Thursday, March 19, 2020
RPI developed its 7 Best Practice Standards® based on academic research, academic knowledge and years of experience in the field. These standards will help you develop and refine your recognition program. Standard 1 is recognition strategy and standard 2 is management responsibility. These standards are very important when developing your program. Read below to find out how you can make rewarding employees a consistent habit.


In Harvard Business Review’s podcast, IdeaCast, Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, explained the importance of habits in the workplace. “About 40% to 45% of what we do every day sort of feels like a decision, but it’s actually habit,” he said.


So how can we harness the power of habits to help reward employees? Here are a few thoughts:


Understand how a habit is formed

Duhigg explains that there are three parts to a habit. First, the cue that initiates the action, then a routine and finally a reward for the action. In the context of rewarding employees, for example, this might be wanting to start or improve your recognition program, rewarding an employee every week, and then seeing your employee(s) become more engaged with their work.


Make a plan

It is far easier to achieve something if you have an end-goal in mind. Think through what changes you would like to see as a result of rewards in your organization. This will help you develop a plan. The Hartford encourages tying company goals into this plan so that you can reward behavior you would like to continue to see in the organization.



Incentive Magazine explains that you need to be consistent in order to measure progress. Measurement is part of every step in RPI’s 7 Best Practice Standards to ensure that the process can be refined to be even more successful.



·         Get employees involved in rewarding their peers. This takes some of the heavy lifting off of you and it can add more passion into the program.

·         Make rewards personal. Involve family or friends if you can and/or keep track of your employees’ likes and dislikes so you can reward them with something they will truly appreciate.


Become a Certified Recognition Professional! Learn more here.


To learn more about RPI’s 7 Best Practice Standards, click here.


Register for RPI’s Annual Conference here.



Tags:  engagement  rewards  RPI 7 Best Practices 

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A Simple Breakdown Of Rewards

Posted By Ava Ewald, Wednesday, March 11, 2020
Updated: Wednesday, March 18, 2020

RPI is a thought leader in recognition practices. Its 7 Best Practice Standards® provide guidelines to help you build and sustain a great recognition program. When starting your recognition program, it can be overwhelming to even think about where to start. In this post, we will go over rewards, which falls under Standard 1: recognition strategy.


There are a few different ways you can recognize employees. Awards, rewards and incentives are all wonderful ways to show your employees that you care. According to Merriam-Webster, rewards are “something that is given in return for good or evil done or received or that is offered or given for some service or attainment.” This is different than incentives (which are things given once a specified goal is met) and awards (which are not given in response to one particular action).


How do I start?

According to Entrepreneur, the best way to approach rewards is to identify behaviors you want to see in your organization. Do you want employees to come in late less often? Improve customer relationships? Innovate?  Your answers will serve as a great jumping-off point for rewarding. However, it is also important to consider the strengths and areas of improvement for each individual. Consider discussing goals with them to see where they want to improve and allow that to inform when and how you recognize them.


What can rewards do?

If you know about RPI, you are surely aware of the great benefit of awards, rewards and incentives. A recent Cornell study echoed much of the research and content in RPI’s Resource Hub. It stated that recognition practices increase job satisfaction and productivity in the workplace. Overall, recognizing employees makes them feel valued and part of the larger mission of the organization.


How are rewards different from incentives?

It is important to know the purpose of each recognition method, and that each has its own role in building a culture of recognition in your organization. Ovation Incentives’ blog gives a great explanation of the difference. Both reinforce behavior you like to see, but because incentives are given once a goal you set is met, rewards are a great way to recognize ideas that are not your own.

Hopefully this quick explanation of rewards can help you better implement them into your organization. Comment below with any questions or ideas you have for rewards!


Become an RPI member! Learn how here.


To learn more about RPI’s 7 Best Practice Standards, click here.




Tags:  incentives  recognition  rewards  RPI 7 Best Practices 

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How to Measure the Effectiveness of an Incentive Program

Posted By Ava Ewald, Friday, March 6, 2020

RPI has drawn from its expertise, academic resources, conferences and more to develop its 7 Best Practice Standards®. Standard 3 is recognition program measurement and Standard 4 is about developing a communication plan. These two standards are essential in refining your recognition program. Here a few thoughts on how to measure the effectiveness of your incentive program.


When implementing an incentive program, you want to make sure that you are investing your time and resources well. According to Standard 3, measurement is paramount to a successful program. Roy Saunderson, a columnist for Incentive Magazine, explained what he believes are the best ways to measure your incentive program.


1.      Identify your goals

You can not measure your program without an end goal you want to achieve. Think through the results you would like to see from a successful incentive program. Do you want to increase sales? Improve customer service? Make sure this stays at the center of your incentive program.

2.      Look into the costs of what you are trying to avoid

Saunderson gives the example of accidents in a workplace. If your goal is to decrease accidents, analyze the cost of lost time due to an injury for an employee. If you want to decrease turnover, analyze the cost of hiring a new employee. Putting a price on the program will emphasize the need for your incentive program.

3.      Set smaller, achievable goals

Within your incentive program, set smaller goals to keep track of progress. This will keep you more tuned-in to the end goal.

4.      Make sure you are consistently gathering data

This applies to before, during and after your incentive program. If you are trying to boost sales, for example, make sure you collect the current sales data. During the program, it is even more important to gather data on a regular basis so you can continuously measure the progress.

5.      After your program, calculate the ROI

Was the program effective? Work out the data after the program concludes to see how successful your program was and find areas where it can be improved.


Become a Certified Recognition Professional! Learn more here.


To learn more about RPI’s 7 Best Practice Standards, click here.




Tags:  incentives  rewards  RPI 7 Best Practices 

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Mistakes To Avoid In Your Incentive Program

Posted By Ava Ewald, Tuesday, March 3, 2020
 RPI is at the forefront of recognition program development. They have developed their 7 Best Practice Standards ® to help you develop a great recognition program for your organization. Standard 5 is recognition training and Standard 7 is recognition change and flexibility. Both are important when creating and refining your program. Below are mistakes to avoid when implementing an incentive program.


Incentive programs are a great way to motivate you employees and boost morale. However, there are some things that can prevent your program from succeeding. Forbes contributors Bill Fotsch and John Case described asking a group of conference attendees if they felt their company’s incentive program was effective and only a few hands were raised. Fotsch and Case detailed what to avoid to have the most successful program.


1.      Avoid isolating individuals as much as you can

Fotsch and Case explained that incentive programs have the potential to garner resentment among employees who may feel left out. They explained that giving a bonus to sales staff could make those in the customer service department feel unappreciated.

-          Harvard Business Review stated that incentives have the capacity to make others feel punished if they do not receive a reward.

-          Incentives within specific departments are great, but make the goals as specific to the department as you can.


2.      Make sure employees are involved in creating the program

The article warns against creating a program without input from those who will participate. Fotsch and Case said that many incentive programs come from companies’ human resources departments. While well-intentioned, programs created by another department can fail to reflect the needs and culture of that team.

-          When creating an incentive program, invite a few employees from the team you want to motivate to give their thoughts.


3.      Do not let it disappear

Fotsch and Case warned against letting your program disappear. Too many programs are announced with excitement only to not be mentioned again within a month. If employees are not assured that the program is still happening, motivation will disappear.

-          Add check-ins into your regular company newsletter or mention it at meetings to remind employees that the program is still going on and to keep them informed on its progress.


4.      Make sure you actually have the budget to implement the program.

At the end of the program, everyone meets the goal and you need to hand out the rewards. It may be easy to plan a 6-month-long incentive program and assume that you will have the budget by the time you reach the end, but Fotsch and Case argued that this is where many plans fall through. Factor recognition and incentives into your budget so that there are fiscal barriers at the end of your program.

-          When creating and budgeting for your program, assume that your whole team will hit their goal.

-          Showing that incentive programs do provide benefits will set a precedent for future programs.


5.      Make sure the program will not promote bad behavior.

We saw this with Wells Fargo in 2016 when employees received a benefit for each new account they opened. The incentive was so motivating that many employees engaged in unethical behavior to receive their rewards.

-          Be there to support those in the program. Ask how they are doing and keep track of their progress.


Become an RPI member! Learn how here.


To learn more about RPI’s 7 Best Practice Standards, click here.



Tags:  awards  incentives  rewards  RPI 7 Best Practices 

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Rewards Versus Incentives: How Are They Different?

Posted By Ava Ewald, Thursday, February 27, 2020

 RPI created its 7 Best Practice Standards® based on a wealth of knowledge and research in order to help you build or better your recognition program. Standard 1 is recognition strategy and Standard 2 is management responsibility. Both are key to carrying out a successful recognition program. Below you will learn more about the differences between rewards and incentives.


The terms “incentive” and “reward” are often mistakenly used interchangeably, and it is crucial to understand the difference between them when crafting a successful recognition program. Here, we will break down both.



According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of incentive is “something that incites or has a tendency to incite to determination or action.”


Incentives are set in the hopes of motivating employees to achieve something rather than giving them a reward after they have already done something. These programs are great ways to boost morale, teamwork and job satisfaction because they set a goal. Fast Company gives a few great examples of ways you can incentivize your employees.

·         Offer a monetary bonus for anyone who can produce a well-thought-out plan to grow or better the company.

·         Adjust employees’ schedules so that their workday is based on how long it takes them to complete tasks, not a set 9 am-5 pm window. This has the potential to make employees much more efficient.

·         Rethink how you offer equity. The article suggests giving more equity based on the worth of the company rather than how long the employee has been there. This incentivizes everyone to work toward bettering the company.



According to Oxford Dictionary, the definition of reward is “a thing given in recognition of one's service, effort or achievement.”


Rewards are a great way to recognize an employee who has already done something great. They can make your employees feel appreciated and build a positive workplace community. Forbes suggests a few ways you can do this.

·         Giving a sincere “thank you” is so simple, yet so effective. Taking the time to tell an employee how much you appreciate them in person can go a long way.

·         Recognize an employee in front of their coworkers via email, in a meeting or at a company event. This not only instills a sense of pride but also demonstrates what behavior you want to see.

·         Pay attention to their interests and give them rewards you know they will like. For example, if they love baseball, leave a few tickets on their desk.


Want to learn more about recognition programs? Become an RPI member today!

Learn more about RPI’s 7 Best Practice Standards here.

Tags:  incentives  recognition  rewards  RPI 7 Best Practices 

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