More businesses than ever are operating internationally. Even the majority of small businesses (58%) have international customers, while 72% plan to grow their international customer base1. At the same time, research has shown that the issues of culture and engagement are top priority for organisations looking to integrate globally dispersed or virtual teams2.
A complex range of issues face HR professionals, reward managers and heads of engagement tasked with rewarding employees across multiple geographies consistently for a job well done. There is a pressing need to centralise employee reward, recognition or benefits programmes that may have been operating in siloes until now – to maximise efficiencies without compromising on their local appeal.
Many organisations have become multinational through merger and acquisition. Each one of the original entities would have had its own distinct culture and rewards and recognition and benefits structure. Against this backdrop, it is a real challenge to ensure global consistency in your rewards and recognition efforts. Yet, as different companies merge, driving shared values and creating a common, values-based culture is vital to underpin the future success of the combined organisation. Consistent global rewards and recognition have a big part to play in embedding new values.
One of the major factors driving globalisation in business is the ability to drive cost efficiencies – and this applies to rewards and recognition programmes too. Rolling out a single, consistent global platform is a highly cost-efficient way of managing and delivering rewards and recognition but, of course, it is vital to make sure that it actually engages employees and delivers the expected benefits.
Employee well-being is a foundational building block to employee engagement. As a result, well-being has become a hot topic in the HR profession. Well-being is a broad term and covers not only physical and mental health but also the broader wellness of an employee, such as their level of engagement with work, their relationships with managers and colleagues, the balance of work and domestic commitments and their financial fitness. If employees are struggling with any of these aspects, it will at the very least distract them from work and could result in poor productivity and mistakes, low levels of customer service and high employee attrition rates.
Here are some top tips to getting rewards, recognition and benefits right on a global scale:
- Design a multi-faceted reward and recognition scheme for maximum impact. This need not be very expensive –platforms for social peer-to-peer recognition are highly effective and typically cost just 1-2% of a payroll budget. A portal that enables employees to send digital, non-monetary, ‘thankyous’ to each other wherever they are in the world can help drive daily interactions between geographically diverse teams. Combine this with top-down management rewards – where managers nominate colleagues and put them into a draw for a reward – and traditional loyal service or performance rewards.
- Take a retail marketing approach to your rewards and recognition scheme. Tap into the best practice of retail marketing professionals when it comes to gathering data that will help you target your employees in demographic or persona groups with relevant rewards and recognition. Decide how best to approach your internal market – do you want to roll out rewards and recognition in a global big bang or with a small pilot? Do you want to start with the main revenue driving areas of the business or with a territory that is in urgent need of a boost to employee engagement?
- Get your internal communications right to support your rewards and recognition programme. Again, HR professionals can learn a lot from retail marketers. Multinationals face the challenge of internal communications across disparate teams who work in different ways, perhaps under different brands. This is similar to the challenge of addressing different customer bases and may be approached in the same way. Consider running a teaser campaign in advance of launching the reward and recognition platform. It is a good idea to combine offline marketing techniques such as desk drops, with digital marketing through email or other internal employee communications platforms. Hand-in-hand with your rewards and recognition platform partner, plan a tactical communication programme before launch that will support ongoing communications driving people to the rewards and recognition platform long after the initial launch.
- Offer local appeal with centralised management. Empower local managers while maintaining overall control by working with representative stakeholders from every country from a variety of different teams. Use focus groups and surveys to get their feedback on how they like to be recognised and how often, so that you will have their buy-in from the beginning. At this stage, it may be necessary to promote change. If managers are only familiar with giving out long service rewards, you may need to explain the benefits of sending out daily thank yous.
- Set country-specific KPIs. As well as localising the scheme, it is essential to localise the rewards and recognition on offer. Providers of global recognition programmes can work with local suppliers to deliver a catalogue of local rewards in the local language. That way, rewards are appealing to locals and may be delivered quickly in response to good performance. Measure the success of your programme against KPIs continuously, using quick mood surveys alongside less-frequent but more comprehensive employee sentiment measurement. Be prepared to adapt your offer to respond to your findings about what and what isn’t working.
The latest generation of technology stands ready to enable HR professionals to roll out consistent and effective reward, recognition and benefits programmes at a global scale. With a largely centralised, easy-to-use platform for delivery, HR professionals can expect to drive increased levels of employee engagement and retention, higher levels of customer service and a boost to productivity and the bottom line.
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2 Bersin Deloitte annual Human Capital predictions report