5 signs your internal communications aren’t reaching every frontline employee

5 signs your internal communications aren’t reaching every frontline employee

Despite your best efforts, you may not be reaching every employee. 

We know: just the thought of it can send any communication leader spiraling. No matter how much time and effort you spend developing a next-level communication strategy and engaging updates, if they’re not reaching every single worker, you have a problem. 

After all, being able to connect with every single employee is a critical part of driving operational consistency, workplace safety, and employee engagement. In fact, over time, poor internal comms can cost up to $62.4 million per year, a lack of priority alignment, low levels of engagement, and high turnover rates. 

Here are 5 telltale signs that you’re not reaching every employee with your internal communications. 

1. You’re focusing on email as your primary communication channel

You might not reach everyone if you still rely on email to deliver mission-critical information. Many frontline workers don’t have a corporate email address, and trying to track personal email addresses in a workforce that’s always going through ebbs and flows is next to impossible. 

Further, email can only take you so far. Workforce metrics can be tough to track with email – engagement and interaction with your content can’t necessarily be captured and analyzed at scale. Beyond open rates, it can be tricky to know who actually receives and digests the information you’ve shared over email, which means you won’t see warning signs until it’s too late. 

2. You’re seeing signs of knowledge gaps and execution inconsistencies

Say you’ve recently launched a new product or loyalty program. Maybe you received word from your operations team that your floor staff isn’t mobilizing on the program. Maybe a recent change in signage or policy hasn’t been implemented correctly. These are knowledge gaps that can decimate a launch, and they’re a surefire sign that there’s a break in the communication chain.

Those breaks might be issues with the effectiveness of your communications, but it also might be a warning sign that your information isn’t reaching every employee. After all, your staff can’t execute on programs they don’t know about. 

3. You’re relying on your floor managers to share information

Frontline managers are vital to the success of a deskless organization, but they can also act as a bottleneck. Now more than ever before, your floor managers are wearing many hats. Having all internal communications flow to frontline employees through them can mean they have to spend a significant amount of time each day synthesizing and disseminating information, when they should be on the floor leading their team. 

This can lead to a “broken telephone” scenario, where information is filtered or even lost in translation. But it can also mean that certain employees get left completely out of the loop if they’re, say, not on-shift when information is shared. And again, there is also no effective way to measure who has received the information.

4. You’re still using posters or a bulletin board as your primary communication method

Don’t get us wrong: a poster can move mountains. But it might not be the best way to ensure you’re systematically connecting with every single employee in your workforce, especially when it comes to critical real-time information. Think about it: how can you be sure that every worker at every location is walking by the poster, let alone stopping to read it. And how can you test to ensure they retained the information? 

5. Your voluntary turnover rate is skyrocketing 

Of course, there are many factors that contribute to turnover rates. But if your organization is seeing these numbers rise, it’s definitely a good time to check on your communication channels. Because as any communication leader knows, effective communication can have a serious impact on employee engagement. According to The Deskless Report, 36% of frontline workers said that clear communication makes them feel engaged and motivated at work. So if your communications aren’t doing what they should, it’s a good time to make sure they’re actually reaching your staff in the first place. 

If you’re seeing any of these warning signs that your communications might not be reaching your entire workforce, don’t panic! With a few tweaks, you can be casting a wider net. More on that soon…

5 types of internal communication your frontline needs (and how to share them)

5 types of internal communication your frontline needs (and how to share them)

When it comes to internal communication, frontline workers aren’t getting what they need. And, unfortunately, head office might not even know it. That’s one of this year’s biggest takeaways from The Deskless Report: while 86% of frontline leaders say they’re sending meaningful communications to their workers, 59% of workers say the communications they receive aren’t useful.

And that’s a problem. Because, done right, internal communication can have a huge impact on employee engagement, retention, and productivity. On the other hand, poor communication can cost you and alienate your employees, leading to churn. 36% of frontline and deskless workers polled for The Deskless Report said they currently want to quit their jobs, and when asked what would make them quit, one of the popular answers was “poor communication.”

Which begs the question: what types of internal communication do frontline and deskless workers want? What would make the communications they receive more useful? We turned to more findings from The Deskless Report to learn more…

Here are 5 types of internal communication that frontline workers desperately want (and how to share it with them):

1. Company updates 

What is it?: Company updates usually refers to larger announcements shared across all company levels on things related to company values, vision, and mission. Think big picture.

Example: A video message from a CEO announcing that the organization has just met its corporate sustainability goal for the year.

Why your frontline wants it: According to The Deskless Report, 63% of workers want to know more about their company’s core vision/mandate, and 55% of workers state a sense of purpose makes them feel engaged at work. They want to truly understand how the company works and feel like they can make a meaningful impact. Embedding this information into company updates is a great way to show-not-tell your frontline what’s driving the organization. 

How to share this information: Keep it short and sweet – we recommend bite-sized announcements that your frontline can quickly read in real time (ideally, right from their phones!). And be sure to bake your mandate and vision into as many communication channels as possible, from your digital communication and feedback platform to your pre-shift huddles. One word of warning: Don’t just rely on your floor managers to share information verbally. This can result in bottlenecks, inconsistencies, and retention issues.

2. Product/service updates

What is it?: A critical type of internal communication for retail and foodservice frontlines, this includes information on new or changing product lines, or changes to your services. Keeping this information standardized plays a major role in creating a consistent (and memorable!) customer or guest experience. 

Example: Details on a new return policy being implemented.

Why your frontline wants it: According to The Deskless Report, 36% of frontline workers are currently getting this type of internal communication from their company – and, still, 32% want more. With good reason: as we’ve said before,  better customer experiences start with a better employee experience. Your frontline employees need to understand how your offerings work to be effective in their work when helping customers. 

How to share this information: For this type of internal communication, your best bet is to combine a short update with larger information on the product or service changes in a central knowledge hub for easy reference. With that in mind, consider opening up your device policy at work. According to The Deskless Report, 60% of employees read employee communications during their work shifts, whether or not there’s a BYOD policy in place. Sharing crucial updates in real-time, and then corralling information into a central hub they can access during their shift when needed is a recipe for quality, memorable customer experiences. 

3. Safety or protocol updates

What is it?: Details and documentation on any company safety or protocol updates. 

Example: An update on new food handling procedures.  

Why your frontline wants it: Easy access to health and safety updates is vital for every industry (especially during the pandemic), but especially for foodservice, facilities management, and manufacturing. The Deskless Report found that 30% of frontline workers want more safety/protocol updates – and that number jumps to 34% for foodservice workers. Think about it: if there is a food safety emergency, such as food poisoning or a product recall in a restaurant, you’ll want your employees ready and trained on how to respond. Having documentation and step-by-step guidance helps minimize any potential risk. 

How to share this information: For health and safety information, internal communications can work alongside compliance training to reiterate policies and update protocols as needed. Use announcements and your knowledge hub to share information, and then knowledge testing questions and quizzes to help identify any gaps or retention issues that arise. As things change and evolve, bake in pulse surveys with your staff to check in on safety and health concerns – you might uncover issues much sooner, avoiding turnover or hits to productivity. 

4. HR news

What is it?: Sharing employee and organizational information related to employee experience, compensation, and benefits. 

Example: Announcing a new wellness program has been rolled out for your frontline staff.

Why your frontline wants it: The Deskless Report found that compensation was the number one thing that makes frontline workers feel engaged and motivated at work – but other employee benefits, like wellness programs, wasn’t far behind. Frontline workers want information on these programs in a clear, accessible, and timely way. 

How to share this information: According to HR Dive, HR communications resonate more with frontline employees when they are targeted, personalized, and interactive. Find ways to go beyond the simple update by pairing it with other channels – maybe a forum on how workers are prioritizing mental health, or a skill testing quiz on details of your latest initiative. This type of internal communication has the added benefit of boosting employee community, another important driver of employee engagement (The Deskless Report found that 60% of workers would like a stronger community with employees outside their location). 

5. Updates on promotions or product launches

What is it?: Information around product promotions, launches, or other new campaigns coming up in your organization. 

Example: Details on a Black Friday promotion. 

Why your frontline wants it: According to The Deskless Report, 30% of frontline workers are getting this type of internal communication, but 29% want more. Why? For your frontline staff to effectively mobilize on a new product, program, or promotion, they should be well equipped with every single detail. Customers are savvier than ever, armed with so much information and online research before coming in-store. Giving your staff access to the information they need to match and exceed customer knowledge is instrumental to the success of any promotion.

How to share this information: We suggest a multi-tiered approach for this one. Start well in advance, sharing details on the upcoming key event and directing staff to learn more at your knowledge hub. Then use interactive, engaging quizzes to see if your retail staff understands all aspects of the promotion or launch. These can help uncover any knowledge gaps so you can iterate on your internal communication strategy and reallocate resources to address them accordingly.

Nudge makes it easy to track campaign effectiveness before, during, and after your key events. Our readiness indicators analyze how knowledgeable and confident teams are, so you can course-correct before it’s too late!

We all know internal communication is a crucial part of any organization’s success, yet many companies fall short. Giving your frontline and deskless workers the types of information they’re looking for can drive some serious business outcomes. Want to learn more? Check out more of our findings in The Deskless Report

How (and why!) to invest in a frontline employee wellness program

How (and why!) to invest in a frontline employee wellness program

No industry has emerged unscathed from the pandemic, though frontline foodservice and retail organizations were acutely affected by this unprecedented disruption. Even now, as industries start to navigate the “new normal,” The Great Resignation is making it impossible for organizations to stay staffed and productive. 

To mitigate turnover, organizations need to invest in the programs and initiatives that workers desperately want and need. And, with frontline employee burnout and well-being an increasing concern, wellness programs are fast becoming a go-to for forward-thinking frontline organizations looking to retain and engage their staff. 

Let’s learn more about employee wellness programs, and how frontline organizations can prioritize employee health and well-being.

What is an employee wellness program? 

Wellness programs typically refer to initiatives that prioritize employee health and well-being. According to KFF’s annual Employer Health Benefits Survey, 81% of large companies offer at least one kind of initiative to help workers identify and address unhealthy behaviors, and 44% of those companies offer workers an incentive to participate.

The goal of these benefits is to help employees feel healthy, engaged, and supported at work. These programs can include everything from mental health initiatives and healthy eating plans to employee assistance programs and fitness credits. 

The need for frontline employee wellness programs has never been more necessary. Frontline organizations are still reeling from COVID-19 and have had to find ways to better support their staff. Due to increased workloads, operating on skeleton crews, and an uptick in volatile work situations, employees feel immense stress, increased mental health issues and risk burnout. 

Why should frontline organizations invest in employee health and well-being?

According to The Deskless Report, 49% of deskless and frontline workers feel that employee benefits/programs (including a wellness program) make them feel engaged and motivated at work. By focusing on employee health and well-being and integrating it with other rewards and recognition programs, you can drive some serious business outcomes. 

Here are 5 reasons why frontline organizations should invest in employee wellness programs:

1. Less absenteeism

The cost of productivity losses associated with absenteeism in the U.S. per employee is $1,685, or $225.8 billion annually, according to the CDC. Wellness programs can help curtail the health issues that are costing frontline organizations billions of dollars in payroll costs, talent and HR expenses and lost productivity. 

2. Increased employee engagement and morale

Employee well-being and engagement are intertwined. Employees who prioritize their well-being are almost twice as likely to be engaged and find fulfillment in their work.

Why? There are countless mental pressures in and out of the workplace that weigh heavily on each employee. These pressures can profoundly impact the ability of frontline workers to maintain focus and positive engagement with their relationships and tasks at work. Considering how disengagement is already a serious issue for most organizations (one study found that only 35% of U.S. employees feel engaged in their jobs), finding ways to boost morale is always a safe investment. 

3. Improved worker productivity 

Employees with improved well-being at work tend to show more enthusiasm on the job, execute their roles more effectively, and are more productive. These factors, when harnessed strategically, boost an organization’s bottom line. Improved wellness contributes to happier, engaged employees, impacting a company’s customer service.  

4. Reduced turnover

Nearly 36% of deskless workers want to quit. And considering turnover costs businesses nearly one-fifth of a worker’s salary, these are stats no frontline organization can afford to ignore. Luckly, one of the simplest ways to reduce turnover, disconnectivity, disengagement, and frustration is by increasing job satisfaction, and wellness programs are critical drivers of this. 

Case in point: according to this 2017 National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plan, employers that create strong wellness and health cultures see 11% lower turnover than organizations who did not invest in their employee well-being. 

5. A better employer brand

Companies investing in their employees’ well-being can see great returns flow through all parts of their company, including in their employer branding. This, in turn, results in higher quality candidates, reduced turnover, and higher retention rates – all of which are critical to success during The Great Resignation. 

How to create a frontline employee wellness program 

Frontline employee wellness programs can help drive performance and increase feelings of inclusion. But they cannot just be one-size fits all. The wellness needs of a frontline worker versus a deskbound one will differ greatly. To appeal to frontline workers, employers need to fine-tune their program to meet the unique needs of their workforce. 

Here’s our 8-step plan to start building a wellness program at your frontline organization:  

1. Understand what your employees want and need

A common mistake organizations make when developing an employee wellness program is setting up initiatives without reviewing what it is their workforce actually wants. This can be done by tapping into your HR team, reviewing employee surveys, and setting up a wellness committee for ongoing consultation with frontline workers. And take the current work environment into consideration, as well. For example, during the pandemic, Walgreens began a series of mental health initiatives to help mitigate the burnout and mental health issues its employees were experiencing. The initiatives included mental health talks, meditation, even a virtual outdoor wellness walk. 

2. Identify your program goals

Like with any initiative, setting a clear goal for your wellness program is vital. Focusing on addressing one metric at a time, such as productivity, absenteeism, or turnover, can help to fine-tune your approach. Each goal should have one or more objectives, and the objectives should be clear and time-bound.

3. Choose inclusive channels for running your employee wellness program

Choosing the right communication tool or platform to run your program is an important part of the process. You want to ensure your program is easy to access for all team members. This ensures team members feel empowered – and not afraid to – engage in self-care and well-being practices at work. Embed wellness conversations throughout the organization. From weekly reminders to the promotion of events, you can encourage people to take the time they need to invest in themselves in and out of the workplace.

4. Pick your success metrics

Outline any key success metrics you’re looking to track. This will help you ensure alignment across every location. Seek out metrics that relate closely to the goals you set earlier in the process. But, don’t stop there. Collect multiple data points to get as granular as possible about the outcomes of your program. This will help you iterate and learn over time.

5. Get buy-in from your floor managers

Your frontline managers are vital to determining your team’s health, well-being, and engagement on any given day. In fact, according to Gallup, managers can account for 70% of employee engagement levels. So it’s important to engage your managers to activate enthusiastic employee participation. 

For example, when KFC began offering health and wellness programs to its franchisees, they started educating franchisees and managers on the importance of wellness programs, and encouraged these lessons to flow through to frontline workers. 

Companies can go the distance by empowering managers to develop rituals and systems that embed employee health and well-being into their teams’ day-to-day. This could be as easy as starting team huddles with a moment of mindfulness, or encouraging team members to take a short walk on breaks.

6. Gamify the process

Incentives or rewards are an essential way to encourage behavior change and boost participation in the wellness programs you run. Gamifying your wellness program can effectively drive organizational behavioral change and increase both workplace motivation and engagement. Try gamifying your frontline wellness initiatives through leaderboards, badges, or points. Then, share successes and give appropriate recognition, incentives, and rewards based on achievements and involvement. 

Did you know that Nudge has a points system baked right into our platform? Encourage friendly competition with our company-wide leaderboard!

7. Provide opportunities for community-building 

​​Employee community is a critical part of high-performing frontline teams. An environment that empowers every individual to collaborate, share information, and support each other builds strong relationships and deeper connections between all team members. Employee community can also help to strengthen your wellness program by encouraging team members to share wellness ideas, challenges, and triumphs. By fostering a community around your wellness program – and in your organization as a whole, you can increase chances of success.

8. Review program results regularly

Now that you have a program up and running, don’t forget to continue to check in, update and optimize. Keep the lines of communication open and encourage upward feedback regularly. Check in on the success metrics you outlined for your program, but also review overall participation and engagement with the program itself. Look for gaps or exclusions you missed. Ask your workers for feedback on how the program is going, and what could be improved. Keep the process flowing.

There’s never been a more opportune time to invest in a frontline employee wellness program. Even after COVID-19 passes, the needs of employees will remain the same. A wellness program can increase retention, boost engagement, and drive productivity, and help your organization reach the business outcomes it’s striving for.

5 reasons your frontline needs pre-shift team huddles

5 reasons your frontline needs pre-shift team huddles

Looking to strengthen your team connection? Help communication flow? Keep customer experience top of mind? The answer is simple: pre-shift team huddles.

From foodservice to retail, so many industries can benefit from implementing this practice into their day-to-day workflows. After all, they’ve been proven time and time again to be a habit of high-performing teams. Morning huddles can help your team stay well-informed about your organization’s goings-on and keep focused. 

Below you’ll find a quick explainer on team huddles – plus five reasons pre-shift huddles are a must for any frontline organization: 

What is a team huddle? 

Also known as pre-shift meetings or lineups, team huddles are a chance for teams to quickly connect. The manager on duty can go through recent updates, review goals or hurdles, and engage staff for their upcoming shift. It should rarely last longer than five minutes.

Team huddles are more than just a staff meeting. They’re a place for consistent, regular discussion in which employees at all levels communicate, share and address key performance indicators and areas of improvement. The purpose is to provide an open channel where your team members can safely share any questions or concerns they may have.

This particularly valuable in uncertain times (we see you, global pandemic) or periods of rapid change at an organization, such as during an expansion. But even during “normal” times, every organization can benefit from these bite-sized meetings, every day. 

Team huddles boost team-building and employee engagement

Even if they’re small, teams can become siloed very quickly. The simplest explanation? People aren’t talking to one another. An obvious benefit of a regular touchpoint in the form of a morning huddle can be simple open communication. This leads to a place where employees grow to trust one another. At pre-shift team huddles, they can give and receive help as they need and can be empowered to work together, rather than separately. 

Pre-shift team huddles are an especially excellent mechanism for team-building between front of house and back of house staff in the restaurant and hospitality industries. And that time dedicated to building relationships between various staff functions can extend to your brand and customer experience. 

There’s also an employee advocacy play here, too. Employees who feel confident that they have the basics to reach their full potential (things like a safe workplace, fair pay, and the tools to do the job) can become staunch advocates of the brand and company they work for. 

Ultimately, team huddles lead to engaged, empowered employees ready to collaborate and contribute – and that high employee engagement leads to better retention, CX, sales, and myriad other benefits

Team huddles allow you to get proactive vs. reactive on employee feedback

We all know that better team communication goes a long way. Unfortunately, nearly two-thirds of managers are ill-equipped to have tough, necessary conversations. Team huddles can be instrumental in giving teams the space to identify and highlight the issues that require the attention of other levels of the organization.

It’s also the perfect place to foster a sense of safety, share best practices, and allow upward feedback. Say, for example, that a team member mentions a policy they believe needs to be changed. If their colleagues also share the same issue, managers can easily take that feedback and facilitate the necessary changes.

According to LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends Report 2020, it’s crucial that employers tap into and act upon employee feedback. By doing this, you are not only engaging your employees but involving them in decision-making. When given the space to share, employees can also help increase your organization’s competitive edge. Retail fashion giant Zara, for example, relies on its frontline staff to share feedback and insights around customer requests, trends and new style ideas by noticing what customers wear or are looking for as they shop. 

When employees believe they are heard and can contribute upward feedback, they can bring that happiness and ease to their work. You may see it shine through in their effectiveness and their interactions with customers and peers. 

Team huddles increase efficiency and consistency in task execution

When employees don’t have a good line of sight into what everyone is working on, there is a danger of duplicating tasks. This is inefficient – and can be significantly negative for your brand if it involves your customers. Pre-shift team huddles allow you to quickly and efficiently create systems that help your business flow better. Taking the time each day, even for five minutes, to go over priorities and goals drives consistency and task execution and can increase team cohesion and efficacy.

Team huddles are an opportunity to seamlessly build new behaviours that push your team to excel. Cascading announcements and protocol changes from head office down through the huddles ensures that every employee understands standard procedures and processes in a deeper way. This is especially true if you pair those huddle announcements with additional information in a digital communication platform that they can refer back to when needed. 

Team huddles also give leaders a chance to act and mobilize their teams to make adjustments that improve customers and employee experience. By quickly sharing bottlenecks or identifying blockers with the team gets more employees focused on a problem so that it can be solved in real-time. 

Team huddles keep you aligned on company goals

Goals and KPIs are the best way to tell you if you’re on target, and let you course-correct to get back on track. And your daily pre-shift huddle is an ideal place for reviewing metric updates, short-term priorities and overall company goals. 

Giving your team members a quick face-to-face before jumping into work keeps everyone aligned and on task. According to Inc., team huddles “keep companies focused on the same strategic goals, ensure timely answers solutions to important questions, and strengthen team accountability because everyone knows what everyone else is up to.” 

In a frontline organization, managers can use huddles to align their teams on priorities and drive performance in a fun way by tying your employees’ successes back to the company’s values and goals. Employers can even use gamification as an effective strategy for engaging deskless employees. You can now set up friendly competitions through a communication app (guess which one is our favourite?), track milestones, and reward deskless employees for their hard work. After all, providing employees with achievable goals and incentives has been closely linked to improving your bottom line and driving productivity. 

Team huddles give each team member a voice

Helping your employees feel valued is paramount, and you can drive that sense of value by ensuring they feel seen and heard. Our research found that 78% of frontline leaders say their company has channels in place for collecting feedback. However…only 24% of frontline workers say their company asks them for feedback often. Does that math seem off to you?

It can be hard for organizations and managers to find ways to give each and every team member a voice – especially in an organization of hundreds of employees. That’s where pre-shift team huddles come in. 

Huddles can be the optimal time to share news, recognize employees, and highlight wins. A win could be anything: someone going several consecutive days (or months) without an accident, a team achieving a sales target, or even an employee’s personal win. That recognition of good work can go a long way toward giving team members – even in large organizations – a voice. 

A key piece of this is ensuring it’s your employees speaking up – not just your managers recognizing good work. Finding engaging ways to allow your employees to share updates or announce changes themselves during the huddle can be helpful. Giving them space to share and celebrate, professionally and personally, can make all the difference. For example, employees at many Enterprise Rent-A-Car locations vote on who delivered the best service during the past week, helping increase connection and add a spirit of friendly competition to their workdays. 

Teaching your team good client experience and company culture doesn’t end at the onboarding stage. Having a pre-shift huddle can help your managers balance functional issues and company purpose effortlessly. What may seem like a small act for your team could make a world of difference for your company and brand. For more on optimizing pre-shift team huddles, check out our recent post!

How to build the perfect employee rewards program

How to build the perfect employee rewards program

We’ve discussed how vital employee recognition is as a cornerstone for the success of your business, particularly when it comes to retaining your frontline and deskless workers. Now let’s go deeper into building the perfect employee rewards program. 

While often used interchangeably, the difference between recognition and rewards is vast. While recognition programs are about creating space for praise for an employee’s accomplishments, rewards refer to company-based programs that specifically measure and drive performance. 

For frontline organizations, a targeted rewards program can help in myriad ways, including: 

  • Boosting employer branding and aiding in recruitment 
  • Driving performance and striving for greatness 
  • Boosting employee engagement 
  • Fostering friendly competition

Rewards are an investment in workers’ productivity and engagement. Without them, promoting a productive, self-sufficient work environment that attracts real talent is impossible. Especially as companies face a heightened level of competition for talent, those without comprehensive rewards or benefits programs are quickly being left behind.  

Let’s take a closer look at how you can build a comprehensive employee rewards program that inspires frontline employee productivity and helps your company grow.   

1. Decide what actions you want to reward 

Rewards can reinforce and encourage the behaviours you believe are important and trickle down from your company’s values and mission. So the first step in building out an employee rewards program is deciding – and communicating – what behavior warrants rewarding. Baking these ideal behaviors into your culture and training can happen long before you launch your rewards program. This means clearly communicating your company mission and sense of purpose (fun fact: 55% of deskless workers are motivated by a sense of purpose at work), and showing how each workers’ actions level back up to that core mission and purpose. Rewards are important because it helps not only reinforce positive behaviour, it helps employees zoom out — reminding them why their work matters and how they make a difference. This in turn, makes them feel more connected and satisfied with their work.

This ideal employee behavior not only differs from industry to industry, but likely company to company so it’s important to be very clear and reiterate it often. What does success look like at your organization? Is it higher sales? More upsells? Better CX? Less food waste? More operational tasks completed daily? It’s important to remember that your rewards program might also change or evolve over time as these ideal behaviors change, but they should always point back up to the same company purpose. 

One more tip: Include your managers in the process. They are already key drivers of your company’s core values; engage and utilize them to help encourage their teams to get involved. They are already noticing and highlighting good behavior, and a good rewards system will also help them with their job and identifying star performers. Managers who are more involved with rewards programs are generally highly rated by their employees.

2. Identify the metrics behind “greatness”

A crucial part of any employee rewards program is a way to quantify success – but this is absolutely critical when it comes to frontline organizations with hundreds of thousands of employees. At that scale, you can’t just assume managers will identify top performers – that leads to bottlenecks, and various definitions of “greatness.” Instead, outline the key success metrics you want to track, and ensure alignment from head office to every single location on how and when this data will be collected. 

Here are some examples of data points you might want to track against your reward program, like operational task completion, employee preparedness, or sales data. But again, these metrics will differ from organization to organization depending on your goals and the communication tools you have in place to track them.

Tying these metrics back to your employee rewards program can be done in a number of ways, many of which make it easy to scale up your program and reduce the bottleneck on managers.  One of the most popular structured ways is to employ a point system. Outline a set number of points (i.e., 10 or 100) for completing a specific action or task. Once they hit 500 points, you can reward them with gifts, experiences, or other perks.

You can also tie rewards to recognition. Social recognition is a cost-effective way to express gratitude and allow everyone in your company to share their appreciation for other team members publicly, and when you connect that recognition to prizes, you’re really driving performance. 

3. Choose how (and when!) you will reward workers

In this step, you’ll decide how you will reward your staff when they achieve the metrics you’ve outlined. They don’t necessarily need to be monetary rewards – many employees seek out non-financial ways to feel connected to their work. 

Survey your employees to discover ways they’d like to be rewarded for their hard work. This has the added benefit of fostering your feedback loops to ensure your staff feel heard. Remember: to build a rewards program that’s truly unique, look beyond purely financial compensation-based rewards. Some ideas to consider: 

  • Company swag
  • Recognition or storytelling
  • Prizes or trophies
  • Gift cards or subscriptions
  • Parties or outings

For larger workforces, you can also consider using a system that allows workers to choose their own rewards. For example, Southwest Airlines lets staff collect points they can use toward swag, prizes – even travel!

Also: Your organization needs to move beyond just simply recognizing employees of the month and find creative ways to embed employee rewards programs into your day-to-day workflow. A Cornell University study shares that immediate, timely rewards can increase intrinsic motivation through connecting it to a task and a goal. Ultimately, if an employee is rewarded more frequently, they are more likely to be motivated to complete associated tasks. 

Digital communications tools can also help support your efforts through on-the-spot reward opportunities. You can help drive excellence and behaviours by thanking your frontline employees immediately as they act. From following new health and safety protocols or taking a customer calmly through a revised returns policy, and even simply rewarding staff for how they treat each other, the timely use of rewards can reinforce effective behaviours. 

Nudge makes gamifying your rewards program easy! Our points system is baked right into our communication, feedback, and peer recognition platform so your staff can climb that leaderboard with every announcement they read, and every idea they share! 

4. Set up the right processes and tools

Setting up how the program will actually work is another important step. That means going through the steps we’ve outlined above, but also going through the logistics in more detail. 

How exactly will you quantify success? What tools will be used? Are they integrated or separate? If it’s a points system, can employees follow along through some kind of platform? How will they be notified when workers win a reward? How can they choose their rewards? How can they be recognized afterward? All of these questions are essential to solidify in advance of a rollout.  

Next, communicate all the details to your workforce, your managers, and your head office.  Rewards programs lacking clarity may work against the problems they’re meant to solve, alienating employees instead of bringing them together. Educate your employees and ensure that they know and understand guidelines to earn rewards through your program. If you have a more long-term program, add it to your employee handbook and onboard your employees once they start. Avoid keeping things to only one channel; find ways to continually remind people about the great rewards programs and initiatives you offer by baking them into all of your employee communication and engagement initiatives.

Like any program, this isn’t a one-shot deal. As you communicate the details to your staff, check in to see what they think of it, and what they might find confusing about the program. Fine-tune the information as needed to ensure company-wide buy-in and adoption of the program – after all, you’ve put all this time and energy into launching it! 

5. Measure the impact  

To really prove the value of a rewards program, you must identify ways to quantify success and measure the value that it creates. In addition to the metrics we’ve outlined above (like sales and task competition), you’ll want to track metrics that tell you how your employee rewards program is driving employee engagement and motivation:

  • Employee retention rates
  • Employee engagement rates
  • Program participation (how often are staff getting rewarded?)
  • Other vital workforce analytics 

Through it all, speak to your employees. Find ways to enable every management level to collect feedback, use town halls and open or anonymous forums to collect honest feedback from your frontline workers. 

Without a doubt, rewards programs are a win-win for employers and employees. Investing in a rewarding and challenging work environment will provide your employees with the best experience possible and achieve critical organizational goals simultaneously.