Should your employee recognition scheme be run and judged by a third party?

Unconscious bias is like jealousy. No-one likes to admit it, and often we’re unaware of it.

Thais Compoint

author of Succeed as an Inclusive Leader

You’ve decided to set up an employee recognition programme – well done! Your staff are about to feel better appreciated, more motivated, and your bottom line is sure to benefit as a result. One question remains, however: should your recognition scheme be internal (i.e. run by you, or someone in your company) or externally run by an organisation like The WOW! Awards? Let’s take a look at the benefits, and drawbacks, of each approach.

Inclusive by design

With internal recognition programmes, one of the biggest challenges employers face is ensuring winners are selected fairly, and without any bias. And employees who perceive bias are three times more likely to be disengaged at work. This isn’t some flaky, hard-to-pin-down issue; it has a real effect on a company’s bottom line.

And when we say bias, we don’t just mean grudges and office politics. Unconscious bias is a real issue in modern workplaces. And when the person deciding the winners of an employee recognition programme knows the nominees, unconscious bias is bound to creep in.

The WOW! Awards does things differently. All of its judges are third party – they have no links to the business involved, and no knowledge of the people being nominated. This results in a scheme that is, by its very nature, 100% inclusive. As nominations are judged impartially, you can be sure that they’re viewed on merit alone. The stories that come through the scheme–those moments of excellent customer service–are the real gold at the heart of your company. The unfiltered human stories driving your business success.

Will people actually use the scheme?

Internal recognition schemes are usually set up with the best of intentions. But they require dedication, time and commitment from your workforce – existing members of staff who probably have other roles within the company. And when their existing jobs get busy (as they invariably do), the first thing to suffer will probably be… yep, the recognition scheme.

Without the necessary time commitment from internal employees, these schemes are generally doomed to failure. Even if you find a solution (perhaps you’re thinking of hiring someone to manage the scheme full time, for example), chances are the uptake will be disappointing.

The reason for that goes back to those internal biases we discussed earlier. Whether it’s office politics keeping nominations down, a clunky interface that’s less refined than The WOW! Awards’ tailor-made software, or a belief it’s simply not worth their time nominating, a half-hearted recognition programme can fail before it’s even begun.

The WOW! Awards gives your recognition scheme the credibility it needs. If employees are going to engage, they need to know that what they’re engaging with is worth their time; that it’s here to stay.

Companies of 1000 employees that operate a WOW! Awards scheme average around 600 nominations per month. And we have no upper limit. We’ve seen individual employees receive 500 nominations from customers, and ten in a single month from colleagues. Each nomination tells a story–it’s a piece of human gold at the heart of your business–and without an external recognition scheme, you may be missing them.

Onboarding done right

Companies with an onboarding programme can increase worker productivity by 70%. There’s no doubt effective onboarding is important – it’s the most effective way to introduce new employees to your company’s values and journey.

External recognition programmes such as The WOW! Awards make for a great introduction. They immediately tell new employees how much you value their contributions, that you’ll actively seek their engagement, and that you care about them on a day-to-day basis, not just at review time.

By explaining The WOW! Awards’ impartiality, you can highlight your company’s inclusivity, and by demonstrating the software you can show just how easy it is to get involved.

Durham Constabulary employee receiving a WOW! Award

The boring, practical bit

Another big benefit of The WOW! Awards is its ease of use. The software is already established (and is constantly being refined); it’s our full-time job. If you decide to run an internal recognition scheme, someone within your organisation will have to build it. This requires a stable platform for nominations, a tool to handle reporting and more.

And once it’s built, you’ll need to market it, both internally and externally. After all, a recognition platform without any recognition wouldn’t be much of a success. Once you’ve dedicated IT, coding and marketing resources to your internal platform, you’ll need someone to oversee it, to make sure everything is running smoothly.

All sound a bit much? Get in touch with The WOW! Awards today, and we’ll discuss a tailored recognition programme that works for your business, not against it.

How The WOW! Awards can help

Over 20 years ago, we set out to uncover the personal, human stories at the heart of every business. To celebrate the little moments of human gold, and champion the companies that foster an inclusive, rewarding workplace. In 2022, we believe that mission is more relevant than ever.

The WOW! Awards are:

  • Engaging. Recognising your employees’ hard work cultivates a healthy, rewarding company culture.
  • Inclusive. We’re the only recognition programme on the market that’s judged independently, so we don’t suffer from hidden internal bias.
  • Supportive. At a time when employee wellbeing is all-important, The WOW! Awards help individuals to feel truly valued by customers and employees alike.
  • Motivational. We read every single submission, from customers and employees alike, so good work never goes unrecognised.