Establish your own recognition tradition

by 08 Jul 2008

Reward and recognition programs often feature as the cornerstone of many organisations attraction and retention strategies. Teresa Russell talks with two companies that are leading a recent trend by using these programs to drive behavioural change

In Europe 50,000 white-collar workers were asked the question: “When looking for a new job, what motivates others and what motivates you?” Eighth in the list of what they thought motivated others was: “A full appreciation of work done”– but that answer was ranked first on their list of what motivated them. (See box on page 19).

Most organisations that run rewards programs do so to reward or thank employees for achieving a particular result. These may include such things as achieving a sales target, referring a new employee, completing a project or winning a new client.

For more than two years, BigPond and Manpower Australia and New Zealand (Manpower) have been using reward and recognition schemes to drive behavioural change among employees and, in BigPond’s case, among the staff in its supply chain as well. Manpower Australia is part of the global employment services firm that provides services across the entire employment and business cycle.

Telstra BigPond is Australia’s number-one internet service provider, with 3 million customers and a 48 per cent market share in the broadband market. It is in the process of transforming itself into an internet media communications company.

Why Change?

Following a global rebrand in early 2006, Manpower introduced a reward and recognition scheme called Shout! that was designed to encourage behaviour around its global values of people, knowledge and innovation, as well as its brand attributes of forward looking, inclusive, expert, fresh thinking, engaging and trustworthy.

“We believed that if our people displayed these behaviours in and around the workplace, service delivery and sales performance would improve,”says Scott McLachlan, managing director of Manpower Australia and New Zealand.

The program was open to all 700 permanent employees across about 70 offices in Australia and New Zealand.

Several things drove the change in reward and recognition programs used at BigPond. “There were a lot of disparate programs across the business and we wanted to move to just one single program that would actually drive the effort, rather than being a cost that rewarded effort,” says Gavin Gomes, general manager sales at BigPond.

“Because we are a technology company, we wanted our retail and call centre people to use an online reward system. The secondary goal was to get both our direct and indirect sales staff using our product [at home],” adds Gomes. (Redemption of BigPond broadband usage is the best-value reward for participants in the program).

Thanks to this BigPoints program, Gomes says the whole business now has a single currency for reward and recognition.

“We also wanted something that would improve our speed to market when the sales focus needed to change,”he says. Once the program was established, it became just a matter of changing points to cause a quick change in the sales effort.

The Programs

All Manpower employees are able to recognise any employee or team displaying the company’s brand attributes and values by awarding them a Shout! recognition cheque. “I was Shouted! by the finance director,” is a good thing at Manpower.

Every employee is given 12 physical and 12 online cheques each quarter. Each month, a live draw is held via teleconference, hosted by a member of the leadership team. Twelve random winners are selected for $100 store vouchers and four others win a $250 red balloon experience. Each quarter, there is a “team Shout! award” of a $500 lunch or dinner for a randomly selected team that had been previously recognised. All winners go in the draw for the annual prize of $6000 of travel vouchers.

At BigPond, the 5000 direct and 6000 indirect employees working in BigPond call centres and within their retail suppliers have access to the points-based reward and recognition program. Participants earn points for sales based on their ability to sell a product and the frequency of a sale. For example, a person in a call centre earns 10 points, whereas a salesperson in a retail outlet would earn 30 points for the same sale.

In order to participate in the program, the salesperson must input their sales into the system. “This self-service model has driven engagement in the program very well. If you don’t do the data entry, you don’t accrue points. People who don’t put in their sales don’t cost me anything,” says Gomes.

“First we skill the sales force and provide them with tools, leveraging our online capability to sell the product. The more training they do, the higher their certification and the higher their productivity. High performers earn points faster than those who have lower certification,” he explains.

Does it Really Work?

Before engaging The MotivAction Group as the provider of its Shout! program, Manpower checked its references with other Australian companies.

McLachlan owns the budget for the program, which is driven by his direct reports. He says it was important that the program allowed all employees to participate, feel engaged and be proud to be working for Manpower. “Through this program, every single individual in the company understands their own contribution towards placing people into work, enabling our clients and candidates to win,” he says.

Manpower surveys its staff about the program each year. This year, respondents overwhelmingly felt that the Shout! program was an important part of the company’s culture – 83 per cent of participants felt that receiving recognition from their colleagues meant more to them than winning a prize.

“Once behaviour is recognised within departments, between departments and from peers or managers, employees feel encouraged by the recognition and have become advocates for the program at all levels,” says McLachlan. “It has definitely driven a change in culture. You can see it with the increased amount of communication between business units.”

Gomes says BigPond chose Accumulate to run its BigPoints program mainly because it offered a turnkey solution. Just 33 per cent of one FTE’s time is used within BigPond to run this program for 7500 people.

“Because of the structure of the program, redemption of BigPond broadband accounts for more than 75 per cent of the rewards chosen. We originally budgeted for 50 per cent, so the cost of the program is much lower than we originally expected,” he says.

Gomes knows the program works because of impressive sales results. “People who participate in the BigPoints program outperform their colleagues who are not involved by a factor of three to one.

“We recouped our entire investment on development and infrastructure in a six-month period. This year, for every dollar we have spent on the program, we received $2 in incremental sales,” says Gomes.


“Make sure your program aligns with your visions, strategies and values and that you have clear objectives from the start,” says McLachlan. “It should include all employees to encourage engagement, create a positive culture and strengthen your brand.”

“Measure every aspect of the program and hold your nerve,” advises Gomes. “You need to give it time to embed and work. It takes eight to nine months before you start seeing solid traction in the business.

Once you’ve launched your program, you have momentum on your side. It takes a lot less effort to keep it going,” he says

Motivates others when looking for a job:

1. High wages

2. Job security

3. Promotion

4. Good working conditions

5. Interesting work

6. Personal loyalty of a supervisor

7. Tactful discipline

8. Full appreciation of work done

9. Help on personal problems

10. Feeling of being in on things

Motivates them personally when looking for a job:

1. Full appreciation of work done

2. Feeling of being in on things

3. Help on personal problems

4. Job security

5. High wages

6. Interesting work

7. Promotion

8. Personal loyalty of supervisor

9. Good working conditions

10. Tactful discipline.

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