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Rewarding success the moment you see it


A trip to the mall is an adventure into immediate gratification:everything you could possibly need or want to buy is very likely rightthere, just a stroll away. Imagine that ease of use, that availabilityof choice, for your company’s rewards and recognition program. What ifyou could simply provide your hardworking, loyal employees with amall-like, almost limitless choice of rewards?

Gift card programs that offer that kind of vast choice are not reallyrare these days, and when we talked with  some companies about theirrewards programs, the JUMP card, offered by

Preferred One Inc

., received high praise. Giving a JUMP card as part of your rewards programs means giving the choice of products and  services from over 250 retailers, dining, and entertainment establishments.

“Having someone go out to choose and buy gift cards was a pain,” says George Kralidis, assistant vice president, human resources with AEGON Canada Inc. When AEGON decided to revamp their program, they wanted to make sure it was easy to administer and adding JUMP cards helped them do just that.

And ease of use is definitely one of the keys to creating a successful rewards program, say Jerry Rotondaro and Douglas Garcia, who are, respectively, the president and director of corporate sales for Toronto-based Preferred One. Just as important, though, is knowing what you’re trying to achieve.

Both the companies we profile below spent a great deal of time asking both their management and staff what they wanted in a rewards and recognition program. Both discovered that, to engage all the parties, the best programs were those that:

  • clearly tied rewards to desired behaviours and outcomes;
  • were easy to manage and monitor; and
  • provided rewards quickly - the quicker the better.

Preferred One offers both turnkey “out-of-the-box” program, or customizable solutions. Visit

for more information.

Day-to-day rewards create stars at AEGON

When insurance company AEGON Canada Inc. set out to revamp its rewards and recognition program,

the goal was to reinforce daily those things that meant a lot to the company, the management,

and the entire staff. Management wanted to be able to recognize the stars who were dedicated

to providing quality internal and external service; adaptability; and creativity and innovation.

The three-pronged program that resulted, called “Leap for the Stars,” contains elements that quickly

recognize those who display the desired qualities, as well as elements that single out the truly exceptional.

The stars in the name come from colourful, cut-out stars that are readily available and can be given

by any  employee to another at any time. The result is a very colourful office with stars decorating many

cubicles, according to George Kralidis, assistant vice president, human resources. Those employees

who manage to collect seven stars can submit them for a reward - a $50 JUMP card, which can be

redeemed at a retailer of their choice.

The next prong of the program happens every quarter, when an individual, or an entire team, that

has made an exceptional or outstanding contribution, is nominated to be recognized. The nomination

can come from any employee or management member and is evaluated by a committee. The candidates

must have met certain criteria, including having:

  • exceeded what they were committed to attaining;
  • exhibited positive behaviour; and
  • produced measurable results.

Winners receive $250 each during a personal presentation and their names are posted on the company

intranet and newsletter.

The final prong is the annual President’s Award for Excellence, presented as the name suggests,

by AEGON’s president. Each February, a selection committee reviews the quarterly recognition awards

and selects the best from those winners. The winner can again be either an individual or a team who best

exemplifies the qualities and work AEGON expects, and whose contributions were significant enough to

warrant additional recognition.

The award is $4,000 cash - net - and one week of additional paid vacation for an individual,

or $8,000 split among a team, plus two additional vacation days for each team

member. The award presentation is made at an all-employee meeting held each April, and

is commemorated on the President’s Award wall.

“The program has been in place since 2004, and has done a really good job in driving home what’s

important at AEGON, and has been well received by staff,” says Kralidis.

Positive changes mean rapid rewards at Foresters

The Foresters name is a north Toronto icon for those who

commute daily down the DVP - the large letters adorning

the top of its Don Mills location indicate that the city core is

moments away.

Founded in 1874 as a fraternal benefit society that “helps

individuals and families achieve financial security,” the company

moved to adopt a new business strategy a few years ago. It

developed from managing a captive career sales force to developing

products to sell by an independent sales force in North America.

But, says Irene Shimoda, director of public relations, the real

Foresters is more than life insurance and financial investment


“Our philosophy is that life insurance is what we do, helping

children and communities is who we are.”

And it’s this philosophy that influences the company’s programs,

including its rewards and recognition  program.

Following the change in business strategy and culture, in 2005, the

company’s human resources programs were realigned, says Suanne

Nielson, senior vice president and chief administration officer (and

formerly senior vice president of HR). Before 2005, the company

did have an incentive and recognition program but elements of it

had grown stale and they were not always consistent or easy for

managers - called leaders - to use.

So, HR, driven by the leaders of Foresters’ team-based culture,

revisited the program to tie it in with the culture shift. Basing the

new program on a series of competency, the new reward program

is designed to recognize those that demonstrate:

  • focus on performance - passion, results orientation, decisiveness;
  • commitment to accountability - integrity, personal accountability, sharing knowledge; and
  • dedication to service - customer focus, innovation, collaboration.

Foresters’ FORSTAR program provides three different ways to

recognize positive behaviour:

  • Team Awards: on-the-spot recognition at the team orbusiness-unit level for either the group or an individual init. There is no formal nomination and is at the manager’sdiscretion. JUMP gift cards are awarded in dominations of$25, $50, and $100.

  • Service Anniversary awards: individual recognition of loyaltyand dedication for those with five or more years of service.Various types of rewards available.

  • Achievement Award: individual prestigious award atthe corporate level, which honours achievement thatdemonstrates above-and-beyond performance. Available toall employees below vice president, nominations can be madeby peers, managers, and customers. Substantial cash awards are made at all-employee meetings.

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