How to Convince Your CEO to Invest in Your Rewards & Recognition Program


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We’ve already discussed why it’s important to recognize and reward your employees in our article, “Four Ways to Boost Engagement & Retention. Hint: It All Starts with Recognition.” But how do you convince your CEO to get on board with this idea? After all, he or she has the final say, especially in small- to medium-sized companies.

A word of wisdom – the right metrics and goals sell themselves. Your CEO has targets to meet and goals to reach. There’s a multitude of key performance indicators a company deems important and tracks. It’s your job as an HR professional to demonstrate to your CEO and management team how a recognition program can help them achieve the company’s goals.

“The right metrics and goals sell themselves.”

But first, it’s important to sit down with your team (if you’re working with one – if not develop a program task force) and create a plan of action. It seems obvious, but it’s still important to note. Simply walking up to the head of your company and asking to develop or improve upon a rewards and recognition program may get you a shrug or a defiant “no.”

Make sure your CEO knows that employee recognition can help reinforce the company’s mission and values. And explain how the recognition program is directly connected to the company’s KPIs, like engagement and retention. When your CEO sees how integral the program is to achieving individual, team and company-wide success, you’re on your way to gaining buy-in from the top.

Your CEO will also likely want to know:

  1. Why the company needs a rewards or recognition program or why it needs to improve its existing program.
  2. How the program will benefit the company. Let’s face it, your CEO (we anticipate) cares about his or her employees’ well-being but wants to ensure the program will improve the company’s bottom line as well.
  3. How you and your team will develop the rewards and recognition program, including what technology solutions you’ll employ, like Fond Rewards, and the estimated time frame of the program’s development.
  4. The types of rewards you want to add to the program or if it’s an existing program, what you hope to remove and change.
  5. How you recommend rolling out the program and ensuring everyone is on board, engaged and giving recognition according to best practices.
  6. How you intend to track costs, performance and how you’ll define success.

“Employees who aren’t regularly recognized are twice as likely to leave within the year.”

These are just a few of the questions he or she may ask. The answers, of course, are company dependent. But as an HR professional, presenting well-researched material will help your proposal. For example, part of your proposal could include a benefits and repercussions section and note that, according to Annamarie Mann and Nate Dvorak of Gallup, employees who aren’t regularly recognized are twice as likely to leave the company within the year.

That’s extremely expensive, especially considering it costs at least 1.5 – 2 times an employee’s annual salary to replace lost employees, according to Josh Bersin, principal, and founder, Bersin by Deloitte. Further, it’s disruptive and potentially demoralizing for employees who remain.

Companies with recognition programs have a 31 percent lower voluntary turnover rate than their peers who rely on ineffective recognition programs, according to a Bersin & Associates press release. And not only that: Over 80 percent of employees said they were motivated to work harder when they received appreciation for their work, reported a Glassdoor press release.

It’s crucial that, when putting together your proposal, you also describe why employee recognition can help a company’s bottom line and front line. You could do this by again citing Mann and Dvorak who stated that recognizing employees improves engagement, and this, in turn, increases company loyalty and productivity. A 2015 study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management supported this claim. Out of 800 HR professionals in organizations that had more than 500 employees, 80 percent said their organization had a recognition program, and 90 percent of those that had value-based systems said it had a positive impact on employee engagement.

These types of statistics can be the foundation of a comprehensive report that you (and your team) eventually propose to your CEO. The more in-depth your research, the better chance you’ll have of selling your CEO on a rewards and recognition program and avoid program failure.

Want to learn more about recognition best practices and how to get your CEO on board? Download our free eBook The Insider’s Guide to Recognition – How to Create a Super Successful Program! Or request a demo of our employee recognition platform, Fond Rewards.

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