Approval For Employee Recognition

How to Get Leadership Buy-In for an Employee Recognition Platform

7 min read
Zoe Brankin
Zoe Brankin

Now that you’ve realised recognising tenure isn’t the only way to show appreciation for your employees (87% of employee recognition programs emphasise tenure, crazy right?), you will know that more needs to be done to move the needle on employee engagement. 

After extensive research on the best solution, you have likely come across the benefits of using employee recognition software. As you know, the modern workforce expects continuous recognition to be embedded in company culture, so what better way to do this than through a digital platform?  

It can be nerve-wracking to pitch your idea to get leadership buy-in, but it’s also an opportunity to make a case and demonstrate the need for a solution to what feels like never-ending HR problems. 

In this article, we will give you tips on how to get leadership buy-in for employee recognition software

1. Engage stakeholders early

Depending on your leadership team’s familiarity with employee engagement and the importance of employee recognition, you’ll need to educate them early in the process. 

HR teams, managers and leaders know that getting buy-in is more complex than ever before, but instead of being deterred by this, embrace the challenge. 

By getting your stakeholders involved from the beginning, you will receive feedback and understand their priorities before the time to make your pitch comes around. Create a list of requirements from across the business before you dive in to ensure that your business case hits on all the points you need it to.

2. What’s the problem?

To capture your audience, you must define your organisation’s problem. What are you proposing, and why are you proposing it? 

A good initiative would be to create a mission statement:

“As our HR lead, I want to create a recognition-rich culture. To do this, we need to create opportunities for people to celebrate success, recognise results, and appreciate their colleagues. We can achieve this goal by implementing an employee recognition platform, improving engagement and performance, and promoting a more inclusive culture”. 

Next, consider how your pitch can connect to your company’s core values. If one of the core values relates to innovation, then running traditional and old-school recognition programs isn’t exactly innovative, is it? 

Then, you can delve deeper into the stats. Support your argument with some statistics on employee recognition to get your point across. Here are a few ideas: 

  • According to a survey, 82% of employees don’t feel recognised enough, and 40% say they would work harder if recognition increased.
  • According to McKinsey, well-intentioned fixes like bonuses or other financial perks are not the best way to handle churn. What employees actually want are meaningful interactions, and you can achieve exactly that through recognition. 
  • Lack of appreciation is one of the top reasons why employees leave.  
  • There are many things professionals look for when job-hunting: salary, perks, company culture… the good stuff. Increasingly, people are looking for more. It’s become apparent that new applicants seek out jobs in organisations with established employee recognition programs. It continues to be one of the most important employer traits candidates looked for in 2021.
  • If you’re hoping to recruit the top talent into your organisation — and keep them on board — having a good track record of employee recognition is essential.

3. Why now?

If you cover your organisation’s current state, you need to create a sense of urgency. 

Clearly illustrate that things are changing beyond the control of your company, and not addressing these outside forces will cause the business to become less competitive unless there is a solution in place. 

You might also want to consider the cost of doing nothing about the problem. Discuss how lack of recognition can affect the business and impede corporate success, and bring in actual data where you can. The most successful business cases always include high-level facts around the return on investment of your recognition investment. 

If you have engagement survey results or qualitative employee feedback, these can add proof to your argument that a change is needed.

We’ve seen that companies like SHL improved their engagement survey results by 9% after implementing our employee recognition platform, and William Hill increased employee recognition by 30%. 

The bottom line? Show them what’s in it for them and what making a change will do for the business. 

4. What’s the solution?

This is where you will talk about your specific strategic recommendation and sell your proposed platform. It might be worth comparing a few different solutions to your chosen vendor. 

For employee recognition platforms, it can be helpful to show the different features of each option, including how much it costs per user, reward capabilities, integrations, analytics, mobile app, specific features, and more. 

For example, if you were pitching Mo, you could talk about how we have a feature called Boosts, which allows you to automate prompts to share Moments, and this can help you build the habits of high-performing teams. At Mo, we offer monetary rewards in the form of vouchers from Amazon, Uber, Deliveroo, ASOS and other huge brands, but we also work with Huggg, a virtual gifting platform that allows you to send more meaningful gifts to your team.  

You might also want to make your case for a digital platform over manual recognition, explaining how a purpose-built tool can make recognition easy and immediate. Manual recognition efforts can delay recognition to a point where it no longer feels timely or relevant. In contrast, digital recognition platforms allow instant acknowledgement so you can recognise employees in the moment. 

Manual recognition also offers little flexibility as most people rely on working in the same location for actions to be seen and acknowledged. The recent and sudden changes over the last few years have made it clear that businesses need to be flexible and ready to adapt. 

Digital recognition platforms allow you this flexibility. Whether you’re looking to boost morale through recognition or want to reward something noteworthy, you can do this immediately and from anywhere in the world. 

5. How much will it cost?

The first question that will come to mind during your pitch is the cost of implementing an employee recognition platform. When approaching cost, share benchmarks. The Society for Human Resource Management says that HR departments normally spend 1-3% of payroll on rewards and recognition. However, some may spend up to 10%. 

Highlight how much the platform will cost per user, what reward budget is in place already and any proposed changes you may have, and potential additional fees. 

It will be important to demonstrate what the return on investment will look like over time.

If you’re calculating the ROI yourself, be sure to include:

  • Improvement in turnover (according to Gallup, highly engaged business units achieve 24% less turnover)
  • Improvement in productivity (Gallup found that engaged employees contribute 23% more profitability in highly engaged business units)
  • Reduced absenteeism (Gallup also found that effective recognition leads to 41% reduced absenteeism)

6. Focus on the benefits to the company

Now it’s time to explain what exactly you’re hoping to achieve with employee recognition software. 

You could focus on the benefits of using an employee recognition platform. Here are a few ideas to include: 

  • Productivity: Happy, motivated workers who feel appreciated are 12% more productive than demotivated workers and think their efforts are rarely noticed. Recognising great work, in whatever form that takes, consistently results in higher productivity and more creative working.
  • Innovation: Staff who feel appreciated may also feel more confident about putting forward new ideas and offering suggestions for improvements. Making sure your employees feel like a part of a team also builds resilience, allowing them to pull together to overcome obstacles.
  • Lower turnover: Employees who feel seen and appreciated are also far less likely to look for a new role elsewhere. According to Deloitte, high recognition companies have a 31% lower voluntary turnover than companies with poor recognition cultures. You’ve probably heard that people don’t leave jobs; they leave managers. Research shows that few employees are keen to leave a manager who recognises their hard work and publicly thanks them. 
  • Connection: Employee recognition creates a ripple effect – great employees are highlighted and thanked, encouraging others to emulate them. Staff will also pick up the culture of appreciation and gratitude, often complimenting and thanking each other. According to Gallup, recognised employees are 5 times as likely to feel connected to their culture.
  • Overall wellness: Recognition creates an encouraging work environment where staff feel supported and valued. According to Gallup, employees that feel recognised are 44% more likely to be ‘thriving’ in their life overall. 

7. Don’t be an island 

Before you finish building your business case, remember to find ways to integrate what you propose into other HR initiatives and consider how this will align with or support other key initiatives throughout the business. Not only does this help make your case more compelling, but stakeholders will appreciate that you see the bigger picture. 

It might even be worth connecting with other HR leaders in the space who are actively using employee recognition tools and have achieved their desired results. You aren’t the first to pitch what seems like a crazy idea to improve your employee experience, and you certainly won’t be the last! 

Stay determined and put yourself in your leaders’ shoes to know how to build a strong proposal at the table. And hopefully, you’ll get the approval you need to get everything across the line! 

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Mo is an employee recognition and engagement platform that can help leaders improve collaboration and morale, reduce employee churn and drive change. 

Our platform creates a vibrant culture by developing team habits, encouraging people to celebrate success, recognise results and appreciate colleagues.

Your complete toolkit for connecting and motivating teams in the new world of work. Book a demo with our team today!

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