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There’s nothing better than launching a fresh employee rewards program. Optimism abounds. And you can’t wait to see newly energised, motivated employees adding value to your organisation.


But any savvy business soul knows, success is a sliding scale. Optimism and a great rewards strategy are just the beginning of this process. You’ll need (want) to measure and evaluate the effectiveness of your employee rewards program.

And inevitably, you’ll ask these sorts of questions:

  • Are we seeing a profit connection with our rewards endeavours?
  • Is the investment adding value to our organisation?
  • Are our employees engaged with the program?

Have no fear. In this article we explore the principles that will help you approach your rewards assessment in a holistic way:

Principle 1: Big picture awareness

A well-curated, people-centred rewards strategy is the driving force for employee engagement. Now, you may already have a performance recognition program. Or you could be in the market to get one started. Regardless of where you are on that journey, one of the best ways to gauge effectiveness is to commit to real-time connections.

The trouble is, many of you will be too busy to sit with each member of your team. That’s why we recommend reward-specific events. They build on your culture of recognition and appreciation. And also give you a chance to view the big picture of the human capital driving your organisation.

Think anniversaries, birthdays, team building and training events. When you pull your community together, you get a really clear sense of the overarching experience you’re creating for employees.

Principle 2: The profit connection

Let’s be honest, the ultimate goal of any rewards program is to improve your profit margins. Most of the research around employee engagement concludes that a happy team has a positive effect on your bottom line.

But more than that, “Engaged employees invest themselves in the broader success of the company, rather than only being present for the paycheck and benefits. They are also more likely to see their role as an important part of the company’s mission and will often support the company in a manner of different ways outside of their everyday responsibilities.” Sapling, HRIS Management Development Agency.

For you to see positive results like that, you’ll want to make sure your rewards are tailored to your staff.

And that means finding out if your rewards are actually engaging. A simple questionnaire or survey is a great way to capture this input. You can ask about their preferences and then personalise accordingly. (Sapling also recommends looking at absence and turnover rates, and the NPS score).

Once you have that data, you become aware of the attributes that drive attraction and retention at your company. Which in turn gives you the ability to make decisions that ensure your organisation manages people more effectively. Improving performance, and your revenue streams.

Principle 3: Rewarding behaviours that drive engagement

Rewards that align employee behaviour with company goals add value. What’s more, these types of rewards drive engagement in a way that is results oriented.

Which is ideal because the process of monitoring and assessing employee motivation can feel intangible at times. You’re looking at the murky waters of human capital investment. Think loyalty, motivation, emotional intelligence. How can you possibly hope to accurately measure all that?

One answer is to use Key Behaviour Indicators (KBIs) as your measuring tool. Not dissimilar to Key Performance Indicators, they allow you to predetermine the performance factors you think will drive success in your organisation.

The best way to do that is to define a list of key behaviours you can apply to any employee, in any role.

For example:

  • How effectively they apply and demonstrate knowledge and skills in their role.
  • How well they work within the company culture.
  • If they are continuously finding ways to improve.
  • How well they collaborate within the organisation.
  • How well they use the tools provided for them.

These are obviously very broad indicators. The next step would be to look at the different roles in your company. And then define KBIs for each one. The reason being, not every role will require the same behaviour framework.

To do that you’ll want to ask what success actually looks like in each role. Ask yourself what unlearnable behaviours are necessary for high performance in each position? And then go into more detail about other behaviours that are needed for employees to be successful.

It takes a certain level of creative, strategic thinking to settle on the right KBIs for your evaluation. When in doubt, just remember they need to be:

  • Concrete – tangible and specific.
  • Measurable – if you can’t measure it, it’s not a KBI.
  • Reachable – realistic.
  • Relevant – measure what matters.

Principle 4: Evaluate the value your rewards are adding

Think of your reward investments like a fruit tree. No one would expect a seedling to bear fruit. In other words, it takes time and constant ‘nourishment’ and care to see the net benefit of your rewards strategy.

Measure progress to goals, evaluate and refine your rewards strategy all the time, check in with your staff and understand what they value. Also, check in with your own values and your balance sheet. And make decisions with integrity, because that’s going to create long-term, lasting success.

High performing businesses have one thing in common. They see value in investing in human capital. That means spending in ways that can feel almost intangible, but over the long-term help attract, retain, engage the people who drive your success.

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