What do the Olympics opening ceremony and your recognition scheme have in common ?

The Olympics and recognition schemes share a lot in their launch ceremonies

I love watching the big ceremonies for the launch of truly international sporting events. 

I was happily reflecting on the fact that the Olympics opened on a Friday hence week-end for us in the GCC when an idea came to my mind linking it to Compensation & Benefits.

I know, I know, I’m a bit obsessive-compulsive with C&B, but please bear with me a second.

There is something we can learn from the Olympics opening ceremony and apply to our work on recognition schemes.

Apart from the fireworks and the visual performances, what is so interesting about the opening ceremony?

  1. There is a sense of build-up. Before the official launch, we saw more and more snippets and references in all forms of media about the Olympics, creating a sense of anticipation around the event.
  2. The opening ceremony includes all participants. All the athletes parade and represent their country and they all have the same chance at fame.
  3. The ceremony marks the beginning of the live events. No more guessing, action is taking place, athletes perform, and everyone enjoys taking part in the event.

Well… To me, these are characteristics that we should use when we are launching a new recognition awards scheme for example.

Your reward and recognition program should be launched after you have created anticipation by announcing it will soon come out through various means available to you such as email, a video on the intranet, mentions in team meetings etc.

All employees should be eligible to the scheme and should know that they have a chance to get one of the recognition awards.

And finally, submitting then deciding who will receive the awards should be done in a specified period of time (a month, a quarter).

Another parallel : like at the end of the Olympics, the recognition awards cycle usually concludes with an awards ceremony. At that time time, the “winners” are announced and celebrated, everyone receives congratulations for participating in the scheme (especially when nominations come from peers and other employees), and we are encouraged to continue pushing for performance.

So – there you go. Launching your recognition awards scheme is like a mini Olympics opening ceremony. Doesn’t that sound more fun and exciting to organise than “let’s launch the latest scheme from HR” 😉 ?


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  1. Hi Sandrine, their strategy was basically Jeff Walkers launch formula, all mental triggers were used.

    Beautiful analysis, keep posting articles.


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