Promoting  Culture of Employee Reward and Recognition

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L-R: Bunmi Simoyan (Head of Human Resources, SureGifts), Taiwo Judah-Ajayi (Senior Director, People at Andela), Emmanuel Michael (Head of People Experience, Letshego), Lola Esan (Director of People & organization, Ernst & Young West Africa), Nkechi Runsewe (Head, Talent & Organisational Development, FBNQuest Merchant Bank) and Kolawole Ladejobi of SureGifts.

By Vanessa Obioha

As technology disruptions continue to affect businesses, human resources management — the nexus of every business that is saddled with the responsibility of not only finding the right talents to achieve organisational goals but also ensuring retention — is under pressure to meet the demands of employees and businesses as well.


That was why at the inaugural SureGifts Human Resources Workshop with the theme: ‘A Networking Workshop on the Rise of Digital Revolution in Human Resources,’ held recently in Lagos, HR experts and consultants deliberated on digital solutions to enable HR carry out its work effectively.

In his keynote address, ‘ Workplace Now Versus Later: The Evolution of Digital Trends for Upgrading Human Resources,’ Head of Human Resource at FBNQuest Merchant Bank, Yemi Faseun, represented by Emmanuel Michael, pointed out that digitisation had brought about “massive changes in the lives of hitherto businesses and individuals. Digital technologies are radically impacting the ways that candidates, employees and clients are connected to the organisation.”

According to him, the impact was being felt in various ways including creation of overwhelmed employees, performance management tools, people analytics, HR skills and online education.

While proffering solutions on how HR personnel can thrive in a digital era, it was observed that employee reward and recognition is very important for a company’s overall growth. This was the focus of the first panel of the seminar.


However, addressing ‘Why Employees Recognition Must be Part of Your Company’s Global Growth Strategy,’ the panellists which included Director Kendor Consulting, Adora Ikwuemesi; Senior HR Manager, West and East Africa, Procter and Gamble, Mofulawaso Ilevbare; Country Manager, The African Talent Company, Adesina Ogidan; Head of HR, DHL International Nigeria, Funmi Glover; Reward Manager, East and West Africa, Unilever, Ajibola Oyekunle and HR Consultant, Funmi Bucknor, agreed that employees are the livewire of every company, thus need for them to be duly appreciated and rewarded.

“People drive strategy,” Ogidan said, while stressing that the reward and recognition should start from the recruitment process.

“It shouldn’t be a post-reward. Understand their needs, diversity and inclusiveness.”

His sentiments were echoed by Glover who stated that employee reward and recognition is “all about people. It has to be the main focus of an organisation.”
For most part of this panel discussion moderated by Ibiyomi Ogunbiyi, Head HR Operations, Reward and Performance Manager, Airtel, the panelists delineated the difference between recognition and reward while pointing out how it enhances the global brand of the employer.

“You need to link employee reward to conflict strategy. If you understand the value of your employees, it must reflect on your reward system. If I have a strategy and do not build a reward system, it will not last,” argued Ilevbare.

“Growth strategy is about performance. Human beings are the most sophisticated people you can integrate in a system. They are unpredictable unlike robots. When human beings are not appreciated,they don’t perform. It’s a fundamental need for human beings to be loved and feel appreciated,” added Ikwuemesi.

“Reward often comes in cash, it is tangible while recognition is intangible. However, it is better to democratise it,” advised Oyekunle.

Bucknor added that recognition is a continuous process while stressing that employers need to let the employees know what they are being rewarded for.

“People need to know why you are saying ‘Thank you’. What behaviour are you rewarding? There should be communication and you should commensurate well. You cannot reward everyone the same as it defeats aspiration.”

On how employees reward and recognition impact the redemption strategy, the panellists couldn’t find a common ground. For Ikwuemesi, retention is overrated. “Flexibility is permanent. A company needs refreshers. Moreover, millennials which make up the workforce are not loyal. They only have plans to stay two or three years before leaving you. In my company, we don’t strive for retention, we actually need refreshers.

“Retention is highly unachievable. I think companies should be more focused on how to give the employee a lasting experience that will lead to great referrals,” said Bucknor.

On the other hand, Ilevbare argued that companies need to think employee retention differently.

“Start building experiences that are valued and lead to retention.”

The second panel of the seminar comprised Senior Director, People, Andela, Taiwo Judah Ajayi; Head of People Experience, Letshego, Emmanuel Michael; Lead Remuneration and Benefits, OVH Energy, Femi Akande; Director, People and Organisation, Ernst & Young,

Lola Esan; Head, Talent and Organisational Development, FBNQuest Merchant Bank, Nkechi Runsewe, discussed why every employee matter and the best recognition and reward practices.

“People is the competitive edge that every company has in the market. Companies have to create a culture of recognition which comprises communication, adequate integration of employees, peer-to-peer recognition and others

“Recognise people based on results and the reward system should be fast, easy and enjoyable. It should be curated in such a way that it helps managers to succeed,” said Michael.

A recurring point at this panel was the need for companies to have a broad representation of employees and what kind of reward tailored for them in order to give them meaningful experiences.

“Diversity should be considered when drawing your reward plan,”said Runsewe.

Types of rewards listed by the panellists included ‘Thank You’ notes, recommendations as well as gift cards and vouchers, an area where the organiser SureGifts specialises on.

Launched in 2014, SureGifts, a subset of Sure Group — a global consortium of non-cash value exchange technology — is one of the leading sole aggregators and distributors of gift cards and online gift vouchers redemption system, accessible to both individuals and corporate organisations. Through its SureGifts Business, a fully integrated corporate gift card platform that enables digital and physical gifting for organisations, the platform seeks to eliminate the logistics and invitation inconsistencies that beget traditional gifts.

“The initial idea was to sell gift cards to individuals but then we discovered there was a gap in the market. We saw how HR personnel try to incentivise their staff or clients. So that’s how we became the pioneer in the field. This informed the workshop. It’s a kind of meeting point for HR, talent and personnel managers and technology to explore the digital trends revolutionising the people management industry,” explained Adeoye Ojo, Co-Founder and Director.

Others services offered by the group include SureCredit and  SureRemit.