In a recent post to his excellent HR Technology blog, Steve Boese spoke well on this when discussing the new Apple iPad and the likely response from users. His points translate well to strategic recognition programs, too.
“In the enterprise of say 10,000 people that are the planned users of workforce technology (e.g. a performance management system), maybe 100 or so people could be placed in the category of 'power users'. They need the most advanced functionality, can adapt to a less than intuitive design, and often are willing to spend long periods of time learning how to use the technology.
“The other 9,900 or so people are 'casual users'. Ease of use, simplicity, clear workflows and speed in which tasks can be completed are of primary importance. Use of workforce technologies are almost never their 'job', they are meant to be compliments to help them perform their jobs better. They technologies can't be seen as a burden, time suck, and require lengthy and frequent pauses to ask for assistance in their use. And the power users probably can't help all of them anyway, there are simply too many of them to effectively serve.”
In terms of strategic recognition programs, the power users need the additional components of reporting dashboards, approval processes, and systems integration. The vast majority of casual users, however, just need to know they can quickly and easily tell their colleagues how valuable and appreciated their efforts are. They don’t need the details of approval process, just the knowledge that their own manager will also see the praise they may receive.
Just like with the Apple iPad, easy-to-use, intuitive recognition technology is never simplistic. It just seems that way.