When my wife Linda and I had coffee with a neighbor recently, our neighbor complained about the lack of recognition in her company. She heads the business improvement area in a billion dollar company and is paid a salary of several hundred thousand dollars a year. Yet even at her senior level she was unhappy about the way top management failed to recognize her work – which improved her company’s bottom line by many millions of dollars. What’s more, operational managers were trying to take the credit for some of her work. She was actually thinking of leaving the company due to the lack of recognition for her good achievements.
This story is a strong reminder that hunger for recognition is one of the strongest motivators for employees, ahead of money and various other influences. And communication is a key element of successful employee recognition.
I have written several articles and a Kindle book, Employee Recognition: The secret to Great Team Performance about employee recognition, having managed several such projects in-house and as a consultant for various organizations. Through all these experiences I’m still amazed how senior managers overlook such a simple concept so much. It is not difficult to set up – as you can read in my article, “Key principles for effective employee recognition activities.”
12 mobile apps for recognizing employees
Mobile apps for recognizing employees make it easier to to give due praise and acknowledgement for work well done. Nevertheless, don’t overlook the fact that face-to-face expressions of recognition are more effective than digital versions. On the other hand, the COVID pandemic has forced many employees to work from home, which will probably continue on a hybrid basis. This would tend to suit the use of mobile apps more than previously. The list below of 12 mobile apps for recognizing employees for work well done could be helpful for you:
Workmates by HR Cloud is an all-in-one employee mobile app, providing a touchless solution for businesses and employees to stay connected. Its ‘kudos’ feature and kudos leaderboard allow employees to reward each other for achievements, creating a company culture of increased productivity and engagement. Employees can give each other a digital ‘high five’ with customizable badges and receive rewards with gift cards, corporate items, or other ways of saying thanks.
Bonusly is an engaging recognition and rewards platform that enriches a company culture. Bonusly’s tools are designed to help people feel a sense of purpose and progress at work. The firm is top rated on review sites like Capterra and G2.
Released by O.C. Tanner, an 85-year-old company known for its employee rewards and recognition products, iAppreciate enables you to celebrate employee milestones, appreciate efforts, reward results, and more. What’s more, employees can send one another inspiring messages, too, and share their accolades on Twitter and Facebook.
This app from Toronto-based employee-engagement vendor Achievers enables workers to accumulate recognition points that they can apply toward merchandise, gift cards, and even trips. Or they can use their points to make a donation to their favorite charity. Employers may also designate points for employees to use to recognize peers.
Analytics on employee morale, culture and engagement. Using surveys, pulse tracking, recognition and awards the employee engagement software measures company culture and morale in real-time.
Rebranded from Globoforce, Workhuman is a complete app for employee recognition. In real time, the app lets you nominate colleagues for awards, approve pending nominations, receive awards, redeem awards, view and congratulate colleagues for recognition they’ve received via a social newsfeed and more, all in a safe and secure environment.
Terryberry is the parent company of the Give a WOW platform for peer-to-peer recognition in the workplace, and is also the parent company of 360 Recognition.
Through a Terryberry bulletin board platform, employers and employees can use the GiveAWow app to give and receive recognition for great work in real time. Flexible for businesses small and large.
9. 360 Recognition
Terryberry’s 360 Recognition Platform enables employers to host all recognition activities on one platform. This makes recognition experiences more engaging and meaningful for recipients, plus programs are easier to manage and monitor.
Kudos is a corporate social network and peer-to-peer recognition system designed to engage your teams with enhanced communication, collaboration, appreciation and recognition. It is simple, scalable, flexible, effective and affordable.
JobPts provides you with various types of rewards you can choose from to distribute. You can run points programs based on multiple currencies, denominations, hierarchical levels, geography and budgeting periods. The app’s social walls, gamification and employee collaboration features mimic your employees’ favorite social media channels and create a satisfying employee experience and engagement with the program.
12. Kazoo HR
Kazoo HR employee recognition and rewards programs help to keep dispersed teams together. Their employee recognition and rewards programs celebrate teams and tie their work to company culture and goals. These Kazoo programs are visible throughout a company and help boost engagement.
Risks in using employee recognition software
It is tempting to ‘subcontract’ to mobile apps for recognizing employees. However, one of the key factors in employee recognition is the ‘people factor.’ Most workers want their recognition to be live and in person, not delivered via impersonal social media systems and gamification, etc.
In a Gallup workplace survey, employees were asked to recall who gave them their most meaningful and memorable recognition: “The data revealed the most memorable recognition comes most often from an employee’s manager (28%), followed by a high-level leader or CEO (24%), the manager’s manager (12%), a customer (10%) and peers (9%).” Around 17% of employees cited “other” as the source of their most memorable recognition, which presumably included software and apps, a comparatively low proportion.
A review conducted by Gartner in 2015 (“Technology Overview for Employee Recognition and Rewards Software” – access by subscription) found the use of software systems including apps can be relevant to mid-size organizations of 500+ employees. The platforms “should be used to complement – not replace – the annual merit increase, incentive/bonus award and promotion management processes…” The Gartner report noted the drawbacks of using software systems. Be mindful of these:
- Employees may “game” the system, working in conjunction with peers in a quid pro quo fashion to drive up mutual point values and/or recognition, which undermines the philosophy for having the system.
- Leaderboards and badges can spur system utilization but may also encourage the wrong behaviors (such as too much focus on visibility attainment versus core job requirements).
- Recognition results can be at odds with the formal performance review. Employees and employers need to understand that social recognition and rewards are one perspective on performance and are not mutually exclusive. (For example, in a retail environment, the measured goal may be to serve as many customers as possible, but an employee may receive a lot of praise for spending more time with a customer to solve a problem. So the employee gets praise for doing the right thing, but it may run counter to official measures.)
- Recognition not based on a commonly understood benchmark or standard could lead to situations where the recognition becomes so frequent that it becomes meaningless and given for just “doing the job as expected,” rather than recognizing exceptional efforts or exceeding expectations.
- There could be privacy concerns when individuals are uncomfortable with public recognition due to, for example, fear of resentment from co-workers.
- For very “traditional” organizations, social recognition may appear alien if the organization is not culturally open; low engagement and program failure can result.
- If recognition events are broadcast on external social media (such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn), there are risks to confidential company information and personal privacy preferences. Additionally, organizations risk exposing top performers to recruiters outside the organization.
Not a suitable game plan
“Gamification” has become considered by some people as a form of recognition, but what most people call “gamification” is actually what experts call “pointsification” or “badgification” – the addition of things like leaderboards, badges and a competitive or acquisitive element into software. The key point is that there is no real substitute for direct human interaction in employee recognition. Employees understand that. Here are the responses from employees in the Globoforce “Spring 2014 Workforce Mood Tracker” survey:
Globoforce also wrote in more detail about this in their article, “Why gamification and recognition don’t mix.”
Kim J. Harrison has authored, edited, coordinated, produced and published the material in the articles and ebooks on this website. He brings his experience in professional communication and business management to provide helpful insights to readers around the world. As he has progressed through his wide-ranging career, his roles have included corporate affairs management; PR consulting; authoring many articles, books and ebooks; running a university PR course; and business management. Kim has received several international media relations awards and a website award. He has been quoted in The New York Times and various other news media, and has held elected positions with his State and National PR Institutes.