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Rewards and Recognition for Internal Innovation

Posted by

Jenni Guzman

19 October, 2016

In the past few weeks we’ve discussed innovation, idea management, and employee engagement, and how your company can benefit from adapting to these concepts and ideas. Yet what we haven’t talked about is what happens after you implement and rollout idea management software, and what you and your employees need to do to make sure it is being used correctly and consistently from the get go, like for e.g rewards, incentives or recognition.

With technology playing a major role in our lives, a lot of people assume that using a particular piece of software means that they don’t have to put effort in, or the rewards will come straight away. If we stuck to that idea, then idea management software wouldn’t work effectively.  Like almost everything, it is fuelled by people and the unique ideas they generate.

Though developing an Idea Management methodology/obtaining the software may be your first step in your innovation journey, it’s the input from people of all levels of the organisation that allow innovation to occur. Without people feeding into the software and generating ideas as well as helping others develop theirs through collaboration, you wouldn’t be able to evolve as a company as much as you could through collaboration and employee engagement.

Idea management(software) should be thought of as a platform that provides the foundation of innovation in your workplace.

Due to this, engagement needs to be created and sustained in order for employees to continuously add their ideas to the platform. The key to do this comes from listening to your employee’s wants and needs, and figuring out an achievable and appropriate way to make them happy.

This is known as rewards and recognition for internal innovation, and is a way that allows companies to provide incentives for their employees to be engaged and put ideas towards the system.

‘Reward’ as: something given in recognition of service, effort or achievement. ‘Recognition’ as: the action or process of recognizing or being recognised, in particular.

How Companies Incentivize Innovation

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External motivation

One of the ways in which you can push for employee engagement is by offering external motivation, which most people know as monetary rewards, cash and prizes. You are offering a tangible item to employees if they provide the services you ask of them - in this case, becoming more engaged with the software and participating frequently with meaningful input.

Though this method may be looked down upon and can be seen by some as ‘bribing’, you are giving your employees a goal to work towards and allowing them to have a tangible item that can signify the hard work they have done.

At the same time, you are also providing recognition by giving them their rewards, which will make employees feel fulfilled and acknowledged. This allows them to be properly engaged in the company and have a positive effect on staff around them as they feel part of a community.

By having these rewards and bringing in positivity in the workplace, employees can then attract others and allow initiatives to become wider scale. Yet giving rewards should only be done through exceptional work and  should give employees a nudge in the direction you are after, not making them feel pressured to win a reward at the end.

Some other concerns with rewards

Some employees may start to see rewards as entitlement, and may complete all their work for the purpose of rewards. You need to keep the company goal in mind, with rewards only going to those who have intentions of developing the company even further and have the best intentions in mind.

It could create a competitive environment. The goal of the reward is not to make employees feel as if they need to win it, as idea management is based off collaboration and engaged employees.

The reward could make employees create a culture of personal gain, where they are only participating to further themselves.

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Another way in which you can recognise your employees is through…

Intrinsic Motivation

This method is different from rewards as the only way to gain recognition is through the work that you accomplish, which allows employees to feel instantly valued when they are acknowledged.

Intrinsic rewards allow employees to be recognised for the hard work they have done and by making them feel as if they’ve contributed to the company, with their efforts paying off. A lot of the time, employees are happy with their wages and the amount of work they do, but they are looking to feel valued and appreciated for what they put forward for the company.

The idea of this reward system is to add value to their work and to recognise that they are trying to. Having intrinsic rewards will do this and make people feel self motivated, with their own desire to do well causing them to move ahead.

By getting recognised for their work, they feel driven to further their own career and will continue to do so as they are fully engaged in their jobs. People who are self motivated can also help drive others in their team, by showing them how dedication and hard work can help them progress in the workplace.

Some ideas for intrinsic motivation:

Employee of the month is an old method that is still popular to this day. By publicly acknowledging employees, you will make them feel as if they are not only recognised by higher levels but also by their colleagues.

Spoken recognition through meetings

Personal notes or letters from colleagues and higher levels

Notices in common areas of the work they have done

Though both external motivation and intrinsic motivation have their own benefits and issues, employees need a form of recognition to show them that their hard work isn’t going unnoticed. By allowing employees to be noticed shows value, and makes them feel as if they are truly part of the company, which means even more engagement, innovation and increased productivity.

Jenni Guzman is resident Idea curator and creator of Content at HunchBuzz - Making Ideas Easy since 2012

Jenni Guzman