Physical gifts, gift cards, and monetary rewards seem like a good way to recognize employees. They cause problems in a peer recognition system, though.
Preciate does not have any features for rewarding employees with physical gifts, gift cards, or money.
The purpose of Preciate is to help your people build stronger relationships among each other. "Employee Engagement," "Company Culture," "Retention," and "Recruiting" are business words that orbit the central desire of human beings: to spend time with people they enjoy and trust.
Real relationships are what people want at work: to be supported and mentored, to build lasting friendships, and to be happy.
Although physical and monetary gifts (e.g. birthday and holiday presents) play a role in human relationship building , they bring with them tremendous complexities when institutionalized in the workplace.
The problem is with equality.
Everyone with children knows that there is an unofficial scorecard on Christmas Day, on Hannukah, or on any occasion when gifts are being doled out. Make sure both the dollar value and the physical size of presents are equal, or you will have at least one unhappy child on your hands.
The same thing happens at work. When recognition systems enable co-workers to gift money or points that can be exchanged for money, they start keeping track of who is getting how much, and why. And this is where a program with good intentions can go horribly wrong.
Employees in IT and HR, whose jobs are focused on servicing internal customers, get points when they serve someone well. Those whose jobs are oriented towards external customers, like customer service and support staff, get far fewer points. Why? Because customers are not hooked into the rewards points system. Even if a customer service employee rocks their day delivering tons of value for the company, they won't get much in the way of peer recognition.
Worse, after a short period of time, financial rewards coming through a recognition system lose their effect and become a compensation expectation.
Finally, as Bruno Frey explained in his motivation crowding theory, when you want to modify social behavior, it is much more effective to activate emotional rather than financial rewards.
To get people to engage emotionally, you need to engage them emotionally. You can't buy love, and you can't buy engagement.
It's understandable why companies put rewards programs in place. (Seemed like a good idea at the time.) It's not clear why they expect money and gift cards to help people build meaningful relationships. Points that translate into gifts and money run the risk of creating jealously, entitlement, and weaker bonds.
Instead of gifts and monetary rewards being integrated with a peer recognition system, we recommend companies abstract data from Preciate and other sources to inform regular (i.e. monthly or quarterly) employee awards programs. Put a thoughtful committee in charge of giving a small prize with the awards, and recognize the winners in a company all hands meeting.
Make sure the prizes are given out fairly across the company, and allow the peer recognition system to build relationships without the clutter and complexity of money.