When I think about the challenges I hear from HR and business leaders, similar themes emerge:
We want to work with people who are not just smart and capable but are genuinely invested in seeing the company succeed.
We want leaders who understand the impact they have on the employee experience and own that responsibility.
We want to be ahead of the curve and to be able to celebrate success instead of spending all our time fighting fires.
Sound familiar? If you work in a company struggling with disengaged employees and lukewarm leaders, here’s why rethinking your employee recognition strategy could change your (work) life.
Recognition connects individuals with the bigger picture
If you want people marching to the beat of the same drum, then you need to connect them to a purpose and mission bigger than themselves. But so many businesses have mission statements, business goals or company values that don’t mean anything to their people - they’re just words on a poster.
But when you use your employee recognition programme to recognise people based on the values they’ve demonstrated or on how their work has contributed to your company achieving its goals, you instantly connect that individual to the bigger picture. It shows your employees that their contribution makes a difference. It helps people connect their effort to something worthwhile, and gives them a sense of belonging, which is important for creating community.
So instead of waiting for the end of a month or the end of the year, recognise people the day they’ve achieved something – it connects the daily grind with the long-term goal.
Showcase clear examples of what "great" looks like
Nothing illustrates “what looks good around here” more effectively than a steady feed of good news stories that showcase what your values look like every day. One study showed that 90% of companies that have a values-based recognition programme saw a positive impact on employee engagement. Why is it so effective? Perhaps because values-based recognition shows every employee what work is relevant and important, and the type of behaviour it takes to get the results the business needs.
When someone is recognised because they showcase the value of “Work Hard,” or “Be A Leader,” or “Put the Customer First,” other employees see that and have a real-life example of what that really means. It encourages them to “play the game” by the same rules, because they know what “great” looks like.
Employee recognition can break down silos
When you showcase the accomplishments of one person or team to the rest of the business on a social recognition feed, it helps increase awareness of initiatives they would otherwise never hear about. This is all the more reason to recognise people immediately or soon after they display great behaviour - it shows other people in the business that things are happening and work is progressing, whether they’re directly involved or not.
That visibility is fantastic for helping break down silos among teams – the more employees see of each other, the better. Social employee recognition sparks conversations that you may otherwise not have, had people not known about the work that deserved recognition.
Create a powerful communication and employee culture tool
Inviting employees to respond to the recognition their fellow employees receive, whether it’s through a comment or a like helps generate more excitement about what your people are working on. It also gives people opportunities to encourage each other and have conversations they may otherwise not have. Plus, having a steady feed where your employees (and leaders!) can see what others are achieving every day is a great way of capturing and sharing stories that bring your culture to life.
Recognition strengthens the employee experience and your employer brand
Investing in a structured employee reward and recognition programme is not only great for your business financially (studies show you’re 12 times more likely to have strong business outcomes if you have one), but also helps you retain great talent by way of reputation.
Imagine working with a team that enjoyed doing meaningful work, received regular feedback from their peers and managers, experienced higher satisfaction scores from customers, and was known for open communication and collaboration. Sounds like a dream, right?
It’s the type of team that you can build in your own organisation if you show your people and leaders how to use recognition well.
Employee recognition is by no means a “silver bullet” or a quick fix, but it can have a real impact on individual employee motivation, team collaboration and employee/manager relationships. It can be a real game-changer for your business – it’s just a matter of starting the journey.
Kylie Terrell is one of our Employee Engagement Consultants and is RG’s resident advocate for employee recognition. She loves creating “wow” moments and looking for creative ways to make her coworkers and clients feel special.
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