How to implement a reward and benefits calendar

How can you implement a reward and benefit calendar? Unlike a normal calendar, rewards and benefits can change and be implemented at any time of the year. We caught up with Debra Corey, Group Reward Director at Reward Gateway to see her tips on implementing a reward and benefit calendar. Here are her top tips.

Why to implement a reward and benefits calendar

“I learned many years ago the importance of creating a calendar to help me plan and manage my reward programmes, learning the hard way how living without one sets me, my team, my company and my employees up for failure.  Here are some of the benefits of having a reward calendar:

Helps you organise key reward events.  I know it may sound obvious, since that’s what a calendar does, but if it’s so obvious then why do so many reward professionals not create a rewards calendar?  A calendar helps you organise the various reward events throughout the year, making sure that everything is mapped out in advance, setting you and your team up for success.

Makes sure you don’t miss important dates.  Again, obvious, but if these dates aren’t pulled into one calendar you risk not having enough time to plan for the reward activity or missing it completely.

Makes sure you have adequate resources.  If you want to be sure you have the right amount of resources to manage your reward programmes, then you need to plan out the events and resources to go along with them.  If you don’t plan, you could end up with not enough people to get the work done, or possibly having to postpone important work. Either way, as the expression goes, you’ll end up with “egg on your face” when you can’t get things done properly.

Encourages focus.  A great thing about a reward calendar is that it supports and encourages focus – focus on the dates and focus on the activities.  It brings things “front of mind”, giving it the attention it requires and reducing stress of the unknown along the way.

How to implement a reward and benefits calendar

So how do you create and manage a reward calendar?  How do you make sure you create one that as I said earlier, will set you up for success?  Here are five things to keep in mind:

Try a post it approach.  I find a great way to create a reward calendar is by pulling out your post it notes, preferably in different colours to help you create and manage different categories of work. For example, green post its could be for pay programmes, pink for benefit programmes, blue for recognition, you get the idea. By using post its you can write out the high level events and display them in a way that will let you move them around and organise them in the best way.  Nothing beats a good old post it wall for planning, right?

Begin with collaboration.  The worst thing you can do is to create your calendar in isolation, without the input of others, as you’ll end up kicking yourself when you realise that you’ve missed key dates, processes, etc.  By collaborating, and collaborating with everyone and anyone that has a role to play, you’ll have more information and data points to build your calendar the right way.  I’d suggest collaborating at the beginning and throughout the process, getting ongoing cooperation.

Don’t skip the little stuff.  Your calendar is only as good as the detail you include in it.  This means you need to really get into the details and not skip the “little stuff”. For example, what is the date of your benefit programme renewal?  Working back from this, when do you need to begin talking to your benefit provider, submitting annual data, etc.  Don’t skip these key steps or you won’t meet your key dates.

Identify overlaps. The great thing about creating a calendar is that it will make it obvious, before it is too late, that there are overlaps in key projects and timelines. For example, let’s say that your annual review process is happening during the month of March and the recognition team decide they want to rollout a recognition plan in March as well.  By reviewing and discussing it through the calendar you can identify this overlap and do something about it so that you are not overwhelming yourselves and your employees with competing priorities.

Refer to your calendar often.  Your calendar needs to be something that is used and referred to over and over again, and not locked away in a drawer once it’s been created.  I like to pull it out as often as possible, using it as a discussion document to check in on how things are going and whether things need to change and adapt.  Speaking of adapting, it is important to consider your calendar written in pencil, so things can and should change whenever they need to.

So grab a stack of post its and get together with your colleagues to develop the best rewards calendar you can.  Use it as a tool to drive effectiveness and efficiency, and you’ll end up with reward programmes that run smoothly throughout the year.