In the past few weeks we’ve covered a lot. From the goals and objectives of your program, to identifying the right audience, to actually managing the day to day.
At this point, once your Employee Advocacy program is off the ground and hitting its stride, you will want to focus on keeping your employees highly engaged and active. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to implement a structure of rewards and recognition.
Every program is unique, and while some integrate incentives and gamification much more than others we believe it’s an essential component to ensure long term success. Determining the amount that fits your program is critical, and something we discuss with each of our clients as their program develops.
We look at rewards and recognition in four different categories, each providing your advocates with different forms of encouragement and inspiration to keep them energized and coming back for more.
1. A Place to Shine
Everyone likes a little healthy competition, and it’s easy to incorporate it into your program with a basic structure of points and leaderboards. Recognizing employees for their activities (e.g. social sharing, audience reactions, content submissions, etc.) is a simple way to show them you care, while giving them a sense of personal pride. These types of gamification increase online engagement and give you the ability to pay it forward to those advocates who are truly going the extra mile.
To maximize effectiveness align your program’s leaderboard with your company culture. This will ensure employees understand the thinking behind it, and are more open to participating from day one. In many cases we’ve seen companies integrate their leaderboards and points systems with other internal rewards programs. This helps drive participation and adoption from employees who may already be engaged with such programs.
That being said, you will want to be thoughtful with your implementation of gamification, making sure not to create an environment that encourages advocates to participate for the wrong reasons. You still want employees proactively consuming and contributing content, rather than attempting to game the system to earn status or rewards.
A well strategized point structure and leaderboard can go a long way towards long term engagement. We’ve seen many companies succeed with these tactics for the program as a whole or simply alongside a key event or campaign. We work with all of our clients to define the best timing and fit for their unique program.
2. Create an Experience
Once you have clear visibility into the activity and participation of your individual advocates it’s time to start giving back. A great way to show them you care is to provide them with more access to things they will benefit from and enjoy. Give them an experience they will not forget, something they can’t obtain anywhere else. This could come in the form of a one on one lunch with the CEO, the ability to attend a conference, or the chance to contribute to the corporate blog. Get creative and offer your most loyal advocates something nobody else can achieve, something special they will love to talk about it.
IBM recently offered their employee advocates access to their executive team in exchange for activity within their program. This type of reward can be invaluable to passionate employees, and shines a spotlight on the exclusivity of the program.
3. Let Employees Have a Voice
Another excellent way to show your appreciation for the advocates driving the success of your program is by giving them more of a voice. Let them contribute to the future plans of the program itself, treating them as trusted advisors — a title they likely deserve. This could also translate into other areas of your business. If an employee is stepping up, and going the extra mile as an advocate chances are they really do care. These are the types of employees you want involved. Give them a big high five by soliciting their input, feedback, and collaboration.
4. Don’t Forget the Goods
A pat on the back can go a long way, but sometimes even more is required when you really want to say thanks. We typically recommend incorporating a variety of tangible rewards and swag alongside the recognition you might be offering your employees. Mix in items big and small, giving your newest advocates the ability to work towards something quickly, while legacy members can earn bigger prizes over time. Rewards can range from company branded merchandise, to the latest wearable…to vacation getaways. Once again, make an effort to offer unique items your advocates will love, as that will drive their future willingness to engage.
As an example, O2 took this approach by offering their advocates concert tickets to shows within the many music venues they sponsor. This was a great way to generate excitement within the program and reward active participants with a night out on the town.
As you can see, when it comes to rewards and recognition strategies, there are a number of options to consider. Luckily, we’ve launched hundreds of programs and can help guide you with best practices, tips, and tricks to ensure you set things up in a way that your employees will respond positively to.
It’s important to realize how critical of a step this is for your program. If your employees don’t buy in, and authentically engage you will have issues scaling in the future. Your employees will ultimately determine the success of your program, so it’s incredibly important to show them that you care from day one. Do so by thoughtfully integrating rewards and recognition they will strive to obtain.
Tune back in next week as we wrap up our 5 Steps to Employee Advocacy Success blog series by talking about the results you should come to expect, what to track, and how to measure success for your program.