And the Award Goes to: Helping Your Customers Drive Sales with End-of-Year Recognition Awards
For employees who’ve reached noteworthy goals and employers who want to inspire more achievement, it’s the most wonderful time of the year: awards and recognition season. From November to January, companies will be giving year-end awards and deciding how to recognize employees over the next 12 months. If you plan, and educate your customers about the products and services you offer, awards season can be a joyful one for you, too – and you can help your customers keep the spirit going all year long.
Companies spend more than $1 billion a year on employee awards and incentives, and end-of-the-year honors can represent up to 40% of a distributor’s business. This year will be even more lucrative. In the tight labor market, companies are increasing their award budgets as they look for new ways to retain employees and encourage them to work onsite instead of remotely.
It’s a simple but effective strategy. Recognition for a job well done is one of the primary drivers of satisfaction in the workplace. Awards can increase self-esteem, which leads to more engagement and, ultimately, better performance. Do all of your clients know you can help them with this?
Awards can also help bring people back into the office by reminding them of how valuable and rewarding onsite work can be to team relationships and productivity. Recognition plays a huge part in office culture, particularly when you are recognized in front of your fellow employees. There’s nothing better than getting up on stage, hearing roaring applause and getting your picture taken in front of your colleagues. You just can’t duplicate that in-person excitement with a remote ceremony.
Still, hybrid teams are common in today’s world, and many companies that have hired remote employees are looking for ways to make sure they look and feel like they’re part of the team. Sending company “swag” to remote employees goes a long way – for instance, you can suggest your customer send branded nameplates to their remote workers, so they feel more permanent and connected.
Along that same line, many companies are making an extra effort to include remote employees in their recognition programs. For instance, we’re seeing many nontraditional award categories directly related to remote work, like "Best Remote Team Management," "Best Home Office Setup" and "Best Use of Technology." We’ve also seen some creative categories such as "Best Virtual Background" and "Best Online Whiteboard Use." Some of these awards can encourage other employees to adopt new technology, which drives productivity – all from an award. I find discussing creative awards with clients helps them see our unique position to not be just the “promo person.”
Recently we looked at research from Deloitte that indicated today’s workers are looking for more than just year-end trophies and plaques. Companies also are getting more people involved in the awards process, which the Society for Human Resource Management recommends as the most effective form of employee recognition. They found “peer-to-peer recognition is 36% more likely to have a positive impact than manager-only recognition,” the organization notes. Getting more people involved in awards also exposes you to other decision makers.
Besides good work, companies are noticing birthdays, honoring perfect attendance, calling attention to good safety records and, significantly in these days of high turnover, rewarding employees for each month they stay with the organization. Rather than make people wait for the end of the year, they’re having managers give recognition on the spot as soon as they notice the accomplishment.
For our internal employees at Fully Promoted we like to go beyond traditional categories like "Top Salesperson," "Rookie of the Year" and "MVP," and recognize less obvious contributions. We give out awards for "Most Improved," "Best Idea," "Top Social Media Video," and traveling employees can win a "Road Warrior" award. We also have a prestigious recognition program for our franchise owners with the opportunity to get inducted into the Hall of Fame, which gets voted on by our franchisee peers who have been previously inducted. Criteria include being a team player, making brand contributions and achieving sales success. Only one or two franchisees are admitted each year, which adds to the award’s value.
More and more, employee recognition is becoming a year-round initiative. Here’s how you can drive sales in this profitable specialty:
Ask clients about their satisfaction with their current efforts. Chances are they know they can do better. Offer to share ideas that will enhance their recognition.
- Steer conversations that open discussions on appreciation, passion and belonging as a basic human need. Recognition is something people desire and need to spark that personal flame.
- Look at yourself as a solution provider, not just a product provider. Call regularly on your client’s human resources department, which handles most employee engagement programs.
- Your clients may be struggling with retention or just need new ideas for recognizing birthdays or employee anniversaries. You can work to show solutions specific to meet your client needs.
- Don’t be afraid to inform your client of facts regarding the importance of awards and recognition. This demonstrates you know the importance of recognition and lets them know other companies have similar experiences – and you have resources and solutions.
It’s not too late to remind your customers that you offer awards and incentives. But as the season continues, you may have a hard time finding products available for your client’s event. Year-end sales meetings and annual kick-off meetings are right around the corner, and your clients are looking to you to help them encourage, inspire and recognize employees.
Mike Brugger is president of Fully Promoted, a full-service branded products and marketing services business. With nearly three decades of experience in the promotional products industry, he was recognized in the Power 50 ranking of Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI) for his expertise, foresight and compelling results during a time when the industry experienced some of its toughest challenges. Under his leadership, Fully Promoted has ranked among the industry’s largest companies. Fully Promoted is part of the family of brands affiliated with the United Franchise Group, the global leader for entrepreneurs.