What You Need To Know About Employee Recognition


Our intuition that recognition, delivered effectively, builds employee engagement, organization performance and employee retention is supported by survey after survey. A recent survey conducted by Globoforce with SHRM has data that makes the business case for rewards and recognition programs (“The Business Impact of Employee Recognition” is available at go.globoforce.com/rs/globoforce/images/SHRMFALL2012Survey_web.pdf) and experience shows that many organizations are not realizing full benefit from their recognition practices.

What is the secret to providing recognition that actually works, benefiting both employees and employers? We already know much about how to provide recognition effectively. But, in the crush of busy days, we as managers are pressed to get so much done that we make trade-offs on how we spend our time. In reality, effective recognition doesn’t take much time — but we look for shortcuts to make it easier and quicker still, by using gift service providers, internal on-line management and peer recognition, and general praise such as “You’re the best!” or “Great work!” — which have some value, but are non-specific and often, impersonal — qualities that diminish recognition’s positive impact on people.

Following are 3 key actions that can help you take your rewards and recognition efforts from low-impact to high-impact:

1. Align rewards and recognition with the business strategy, specifically focusing on employee actions and performance that contribute to delivery of the company’s differentiation or value proposition. This provides the cornerstone that guides employee decisions and priorities on a day in and day out basis, impacting performance. This keeps your criteria consistent. It also makes it easy for you to show the importance of the employee’s contribution.

2. Give recognition in a way that is meaningful to each individual employee. Tailor it, rather than using a one-size-fits-all approach. For example, some employees thrive on being the center of attention, so receiving recognition publicly is optimum. Others prefer receiving it one-on-one or in writing. I still have a plaque that I received in 1990 for a team project that was a tremendous success and launched a new tool for field customer service people to use in solving system problems for customers, a strategic goal for the business. The award was given in a business-wide recognition meeting where managers told the story behind the achievement, provided brief introductions of each team member and provided each with his own plaque. I enjoy remembering that project, my team members, and the ceremony. I also enjoy recalling the other teams who received recognition that day.

Make it meaningful by being specific. Try using the BET method to recognize the employee, stating the employee’s Behavior, the Effect of the behavior and Thank-you.

3. Use non-monetary recognition. People enjoy the story and the memory and the memento associated with receiving recognition. This applies to both groups and individuals. For example, a colleague of mine still has a note hand-written on a piece of nice stationary by a manager who gave it to him in 1972. It’s in a desk draw, and it still makes him smile to remember the situation, what the manager wrote and the special paper itself.

The video above, featuring well-known expert Chester Elton, is chock-full of additional, simple tips to maximize the value of your rewards and recognition efforts.  And, once you establish your rewards and recognition strategy based on the three key actions above, you may want to expand your successful program to leverage the added opportunity we have in today’s social environment by using on-line peer recognition and email.  Once you have the right strategy and program in place, these tools can help to dramatically increase the frequency and involvement of your workforce in providing recognition, building recognition into your company culture.

What are your own experiences giving and receiving rewards and recognition? What does your organization do well? Please share your opinions, knowledge and experience.

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