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Implementing “Their” Program

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This is my first post on the new company site. 

As you may remember, I2I sold out this year to Symbolist – a great team of professionals with whom I share the vision of changing the world – or at least our little part of it.  This is exciting for me – new site, new interface, new look.  Same contrarian point of view and hopefully posts that make you come back for more.

Today I’m riffing on a post my fellow FOT contributor Suzanne Rumsey ran the other day talking about HR technology initiatives and how they add little strategic value.  Suzanne references an article published on HR Executive Magazine and a meta-analysis done on various HR tech options from which they concluded that there is no evidence that investing in HR tech provided any competitive advantage.

Think about that for a minute.  That is a huge statement. 

While the study does say that there are business benefits (cost savings, etc.) they are hinting that you don’t get that far ahead of your competition by investing in HR tech. 

The study cites too much standardization, too much “best practices”, too much sameness in the solution sets.

And I think this extends to reward and recognition solutions most HR teams have to review before implementing their “engagement strategy.”

HR Tech = Reward System = Sameness

Face it, the system you use to reward and recognize your employees is an HR technology system.  Most are now SaaS, most are now built with similar functions, most are now easily deployable, most are just like everyone else.  When you look at each system there may just be a few buttons and charts that differ – and some of them are pretty cool.  But at the end of the day you have a system that is “just like the last one they implemented with your competition.”

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not suggesting that you should custom build – most of these systems are more than adequate for doing the mundane administrative lifting.

What you really, really need to make this really work is: (and again I’m stealing/borrowing from Suzanne’s list on her FOT post a bit.)

  1. A clear vision by senior leaders on what you want your recognition and reward program can really do for the organization.
  2. A clear understanding of what success “looks like here” – the operative word is “here” – not at the last company the vendor implemented their software – but at YOUR company!
  3. The recognition and reward technology needs to be seen as more than a function of HR – it needs to become a business accountability supported by HR [and IT]
  4. A distinctive [human capital] proposition that differentiates from the competition.  Yeah – what is unique about your company – what makes you, well, you?  And it’s not crystal trophies…and it’s not the same lame mission and values – dig in and find the real you.  That will make your initiative impactful.
  5. Enough ‘quality’ time devoted to reward and recognition within the company

Those five things have almost nothing to do with the technology side of the equation.  But I rarely see company HR departments ask about how the vendor plans on addressing them.  Sure, they can tell you how to upload a picture and “like” a recognition event in their system – but can they help you determine what real recognition looks like in your company?  Can they create a totally unique set of symbols and references that reinforce your particular brand of awesome?

If they can’t, then their system is just another system. 

Success in your recognition and reward initiative is all about the human side of the equation – not the technology side.  Keep that in mind as you think about how you want your program/initiative to roll out. 

Do you want the same basic system as your competitor with different color bars in the interface – or something that resonates with your employees at an emotional level and connects to things that make you the best place to be each day?

Your call.

I know where I’d want to be…

6 Responses to “Implementing “Their” Program”

  1. Hi Paul. Nice to hear from you again:-) And Howdy to my other friends as well. I agree wholeheartedly. It is frustrating to continually try and convince client organizations they really need to spend more time designing a larger strategy, communicating and educating on the why of their programs, and how people can leverage reward and recognition most effectively to benefit both employees and the organization. The focus all too often is placed on technology tools, rather than the employee experience and the reason for the tool in the first place. Technology, systems bring value, but they should be in place to enable, amplify, track and hopefully adds some additional fun, status and engagement to the overall experience.

    • Paul Hebert says:

      Thanks Michelle… it is unfortunate that some of the current SaaS thinking is really “dumbing” down the programs that companies use rather than really elevating them to the level where they have real long-term impact. Thanks for following me over here and commenting.

  2. Chad Atwell says:

    True for technology and true for market pricing (as we are talking about rewards). Matching the benchmark will only get you so far. Human execution can make your 50th percentile closer to 60 or 70.

    • Paul Hebert says:

      Funny how companies always want to match “best practices” and use other companies’ benchmarks – it’s like saying – “I only want to be as good as ‘x’.” Makes no sense in a competitive world. Do what is best for you – not them! Thanks Chad for the comment and for reading.

  3. Symbolist says:

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  4. Symbolist says:

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