Every year at the end of February, the entire film scene is preparing for the next Oscars. Nominations are announced, forecasts made, outfits and speeches prepared and finally, the red carpet is rolled out. What does it feel like to walk this world-famous catwalk in a flurry of flashbulbs and under the eyes of thousands? Such an award is always a confirmation of one’s own performance. Most people are happy about the recognition and appreciation of others, feel confirmed and perceived.
This feeling inspires and can have effects on motivation and commitment. Without appreciative behavior, functioning cooperation is hardly imaginable. It is fundamental for a person’s well-being to be appreciated in private and professional activities and trade.
Increasing employee motivation and loyalty
Particularly in the professional context and in the “war for talents”, the discussion of suitable and fair salaries plays an increasingly important role. Appropriate payment is always the basis. But for genuinely loyal employees who identify with the company and do more than just “Dienst nach Vorschrift” (German for work by the book) – as the Gallup Engagement Index calls it – it takes more than a fair compensation system.
Here, awards can be a way of valuing employees and thus recognizing performance above the norm and promoting it in the long term. Similar to wages, awards also aim at extrinsic motivation, as they represent an external incentive and help the recipient to status, but they are non-monetary in the classical sense. And perhaps this is where the decisive difference lies. Although they are formal rewards, they always represent a particular surprise, an extraordinary event and thus trigger emotional reactions.
These can lead to a higher emotional bond with the company. Receiving an award also always creates a social relationship: the appreciation can increase a company’s identification and loyalty, which is not the case with a cash payment to the same extent. Increases in motivation and performance can be explained by the employee’s desire to justify the excellent performance and to continue to do so in the future.
Involving employees in innovation
Not only do awards have an impact on motivation and commitment, but they also have another not insignificant effect: they focus attention on certain topics. So they have a double effect on the public, both for the person who received the award and for a specific topic. Thus, the Nobel Prize not only honors a person or his or her achievement within an area but also always emphasizes the importance of the individual categories and informs about the latest developments.
Innovation Awards can, therefore, be an effective way of highlighting the importance that a company attaches to innovation and communicating it across companies. In addition, awards underscore the importance the company attaches to employees and their ideas within the innovation process. In this way, the topic of innovation gains more attention in the minds of the employees and thus also in the entire corporate structure.
Within an Innovation Award, employees can submit their projects, which are then evaluated by different people in a multi-stage process. Innovation Awards create participation spaces for employees and thus actively counteract one of the biggest obstacles to employee motivation.
Motivation often suffers most from the fact that employees have the feeling that their own ideas are not perceived, that employee participation with regard to company decisions is not desired or that they assume that their own ideas come to nothing due to non-transparent processes. With the help of the Innovation Award, employees can be sure that their ideas will be heard and recognized.
The standard procedure of an Innovation Award always includes a phase of idea submission with subsequent evaluation. The typical competitive character of an award supports the quality and quantity of the submissions. An additional quality check before the start of the evaluations can, for example, ensure that the process is implemented in a way that saves time and money.
There are also various evaluation options. In addition to committees of experts and specialist staff, management decisions or crowd votings by employees can also be integrated.
Employee voting expands the participation spaces so that employees can not only participate with ideas and project submissions but can also contribute their knowledge and opinions in the form of assessments. In this way, Innovation Awards not only create a cross-company awareness of the importance of innovation but also mobilize each individual employee to deal with it and participate. They thus represent a successful method of actively and transparently shaping Innovation with Employees.
Schaeffler Award: Making corporate values visible
A prime example of the successful integration of awards is the Schaeffler Group. The company uses awards to make its corporate values visible across the organization. Employees have the opportunity to submit their projects within five different award categories.
The company not only concentrates on Innovation, but the corporate values are also reflected in the award categories Sustainability, Excellence and Passion. An additional Special Award enables the company to deal with a current topic that changes every year.
Once employees have submitted their successful initiatives in a suitable category, they can name up to three promoters for their project.
Promoters can add a comment to the submitted project within a given time and thus support the candidates and their ideas. Through several evaluation phases, the number of candidates is reduced to two teams per category. These two teams then have the opportunity to present their initiatives at a live pitch.
Schaeffler Group employees are given the unique opportunity to present the success story of their ideas. The positive response the Schaeffler Award receives from employees is underscored by the more than 400 project submissions.
Advantages of the innosabi Technology
The innosabi software offers companies the opportunity to establish Innovation Awards and thus to promote employee participation through a structured and transparent process, to make successes visible and to anchor innovation permanently in the corporate culture.
Employees are often described as the first port of call for new ideas, yet there is often a lack of suitable structures to show employees that their ideas are perceived and successfully implemented. The first step here is always to recognize the importance of employees and their performance for the innovation process and to make it visible across the organization.