Workplace recognition is a core pillar of most companies and real estate brokerages — highlighting the work of star agents and those who have gone above and beyond on a regular basis.
In a year of such uncertainty like we experienced in 2020, recognitions like these may have been put on the back burner, especially as most people worked remotely.
According to a survey from Snappy Gifts, three out of five employees believe recognition is even more important while working from home. Still, only one in five say their company has created new ways to highlight accomplishments since the pandemic started.
As we reemerge post-pandemic, brokerages should place a renewed focus on recognizing agent achievements. Agents are interested in more real-time recognition of their accomplishments and a stronger connection within their virtual, socially distant work communities.
Now more than ever, it’s crucial for brokerages to implement programs that help give credit where it’s due and as a way to retain top talent. Industry leaders have the opportunity to put agent appreciation at the forefront to highlight the great work they do, maintain morale and reduce the feeling of isolation in a virtual or hybrid work environment.
In the following sections, I’ll highlight four things leaders should consider when developing and implementing an agent recognition program.
1. Create a budget
Before you can move onto the exciting part of rewarding your agents, it’s critical to carve out a budget for the program. Not only does this help you determine what caliber of awards and incentives may be available for agents, it enables you to create a timeline for how often recognitions can take place.
Beyond celebrating top agents, it’s important to allocate funds to celebrate everyone within the brokerage. A good rule of thumb is to dedicate 60 percent of the budget for the entire group and 40 percent to the superstar performers.
When creating your program budget, keep in mind all plus-up events you may want to host — such as an awards dinner or virtual event — to recap the fantastic work throughout the year.
2. Know your audience
One of the most critical aspects of creating an agent recognition program is understanding your agents’ business motivations and how they like to be celebrated for their achievements.
Also, consider personality types when giving out these awards. Some people might prefer a one-on-one lunch to celebrate versus a large luncheon and vice versa.
Whether it’s recognizing sales milestones, excellent customer service or efforts to educate clients, create awards that reflect the key business objectives of the brokerage as a whole.
3. Choose worthy awards
As far as the tangible award goes, consider that agents are always on the move, and the days of the antiquated trophy are long gone. Make sure the awards are modern, fun and representative of the great work the agents do.
This past October, we hosted RE/MAX Torchbearers, an annual celebration highlighting our top 40 agents under the age of 40 across our three U.S. regions. In light of the pandemic, we had to pivot our initial ideas for the 2020 program to a virtual platform for the event.
Despite the changes, we were able to make the experience and awards unique to the deserving recipients. For example, to build anticipation for the virtual event, we curated locked cases packed with info about the event, Torchbearers-branded swag and thoughtful items, including branded drones to help agents capture great content for marketing their listings.
When recognizing those who have excelled, it’s sometimes OK to go above and beyond to make the celebration extra special — especially amid all the uncertainty we have experienced.
Social media is a great tool for announcing these wins within your network. Templated images are a great way to streamline the process and create continuity on your platform, but make sure to take a personalized approach with the caption to highlight why the agent was selected, instead of copying and pasting something lackluster.
Another small but important detail is having social media assets sized to each platform at the ready for the team and individual to share on their channels. Pairing a physical award with a social media spotlight for the selected agent is a great way to bridge the gap between remote, in-person and hybrid agents.
4. Set a cadence
Once you create a budget, figure out what inspires your agents, and plan how to reward their work, it’s time to create a system for the recognition program in the form of a calendar. The first step to building a recognition calendar is determining which achievements you want to highlight.
Across the industry, there are several agent and brokerage ranking lists released throughout the year. This is a great place to start. To go beyond this, consider implementing your own ranking program — if you don’t already have one — that tracks key milestones.
These monthly, quarterly and annual recognition opportunities give agents something to look forward to regularly. Having a set cadence to recognize agents will create an easy-to-follow program for the person managing it and most importantly, it’ll ensure these special callouts don’t fall through the cracks.
Once the cadence is in place, make sure you “don’t set it and forget it.” Revisit and refresh the program on a regular basis to adjust where needed based on what’s working and what could be improved.
Great work can easily fly under the radar, especially in the hustle and bustle of real estate. That’s even more true following a year of remote work and navigating business operations during a pandemic.
Building recognition programs to properly celebrate agents is of the utmost importance for brokerages as we transition to hybrid and in-person work environments in order to retain talent and create a lasting, positive culture.
Katy Robinson, senior director of events, engagement and education for RE/MAX INTEGRA in Ashland, Massachusetts. Connect with her on LinkedIn.