Recognition-as-a-Service to Facilitate Great Work in Today’s Workforce


You’re not alone in thinking that the age of the physical long service award is well and truly dead. A trophy, medal or pin for long standing service now seems horribly outdated, doesn’t it? However, this is not the case. Far from it, actually: There has been an evolution in the way firms in the long service award space now operate with most having expanded into the service reward market whereby employees can be rewarded for great work accomplished as well as the traditional long-service awards.

In a recent piece of research, Can HR be an Innovation Incubator?, I identified how the right people can be sourced, assessed and incentivized to deliver enterprise wide innovation. For organizations looking to stay ahead of the curve, it is essential to have the right people and to also provide incentives for these people to behave in a way that drives revenue and profitability growth.

Now it’s all well and good investing in new assessment criteria, interview techniques and bonus schemes. But if your workforce doesn’t hang around for long, these new measures are worthless. Voluntary employee churn is incredibly pricey, both in terms of opportunity and replacement cost—not to mention the loss of IP. Increasing employee engagement is a key means with which to drive employee engagement and therefore retention. The simple act of recognizing great work, and in some cases physically rewarding it, goes a long way toward building and incenting a motivated workforce.

Service providers doling out long-standing awards are still alive and well but are now, by and large, evolving service provision into Recognition-as-a-Service.

At a recent event, I had the opportunity to go under the bonnet, so to speak, of one of these employee rewards and recognition service providers—OC Tanner. The company is looking to modernize rewards and recognition—both the practice of it, and the services that support it. In its early days, OC Tanner simply provided “thanks for your years of service” awards, which it still manufactures. The company added recognition awards and now also provides end-to-end recognition solutions and services with a design lab and SaaS.

Although it keeps evolving, OC Tanner, like the HR industry, is having an identity crisis

The company has evolved with the market but it’s not clear where it is headed over the long term. Is it now a software company? What does it want to help its clients achieve and how? The development of its SaaS offering and its continued development of additional HR bolt-ons would suggest it’s moving into the talent management software space. That said, at present SaaS only makes up one tenth of revenues and clients can use differing software and channels to run rewards and recognition programs that OC Tanner fulfills. This seems to disenfranchise the service provider’s SaaS offering. OC Tanner has also made extensive investments in an on-site storage, fulfillment and distribution service for employee rewards. With the Amazons of the world freely available, and with a global reach, this seems unnecessary.

So, while it has branched out into the digital world with SaaS-based services and mobile capability, OC Tanner seems a bit stuck in its roots. The founder of the company put the organization in a 100-year trust in which it could not be sold or offered to IPO, and family members continue to hold positions on the board. Perhaps these two factors keep it emotionally tied to its manufacturing origination. However, the company drinks its own medicine, running an extensive in-house employee recognition program.

It is important to note that the service that organizations such as OC Tanner provide do not simply reward great work but they actively encourage and facilitate it. As such, Recognition-as-a-Service can be a crucial arrow in today’s CHRO’s quiver. In order to continue to speak to the member of the C-Suite, OC Tanner needs to continue down the path of Recognition-as-a-Service and steer clear of diluting itself and its go to market with IT based HR services that are already supported by other providers.

Posted in : Talent in Sourcing


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