I remember the first time I heard about using social media within an employee recognition system — making employee recognition public, for every employee to see. I wasn’t excited. I was nervous, not knowing what to expect, and what exactly “social recognition” really meant or what it would do.
My first thoughts were, what if someone sends eCards for things of a confidential nature? For example, what if they send someone in HR an eCard to say "thank you for your help with the pay increase" or "thank you for ordering my new company car" or even "thank you for helping me with the disciplinary"? Also, what would happen if employees use inappropriate language, and I’m forced to become the "Social Media Police," and monitor each and every one? Was it really worth the risk to do this?
In a word: Yes.
Since that first fleeting thought, I’ve come to realize that social media is ingrained in everyday life so much that it seems unnatural not to bring it into the world of employee recognition.
According to a 2016 report from Small Biz Trends, 97% of adults say they’ve visited or used a social network within the last month, and worldwide there are over 1.79 billion monthly active Facebook users. Instead of the fears I had, I instead see eCards filled with encouragement, simple “Thank Yous” among team members who went the extra mile and the occasional funny eCard that brings smiles instead of shock.
I was wrong.
Here’s how I see it now:
The truth is, there are so many benefits to social recognition in the workplace. Why, because it’s important for us to encourage our employees to recognise one another and satisfy that basic need of being appreciated. The concept of social recognition is one that is easily adopted by employees since so many of them are so frequently on social networks that have social feeds, commenting capabilities and the ability to “like” — why not bring it to your recognition program? Here’s what else social recognition can do:
It helps connect your people. I work in my home office most of the time, so beyond my conference calls, I mainly interact with my two dogs, Java and Poppy (who cuddle by my side). I travel to the office a couple times a month, so eCards and other forms of recognition help me feel more connected to my fellow employees — I can keep tabs on company projects through the specific messages I see on eCards and it piques my curiosity when I see someone receiving so many that I often reach out myself with an extra “Congrats,” “Great Job” or “Happy Birthday” depending on what that person is doing to get so many cards!
It builds and enforces teamwork. The other day, I sent an eCard to our Growth Marketing Manager Charlie Lofthouse for her efforts in promoting an event I was speaking at. As I sent it, I noticed she had sent another one to our Creative Director Sevi Rahimova thanking her for helping spruce up the Keynote slides I’d put together for the presentation. And then I received one from one of our sales consultants, who said he was planning on using the information in my slides during a pitch later that day. How’s that for coming around full circle?! When you display your eCards, you can clearly see how your employees are working together to achieve their goals — and help move the business closer to its overall mission.
It encourages more frequent and continuous recognition. Gallup recently stated that employee recognition should occur more frequently, at least once every seven days. Our recent study proves the point — of 1,500 employees surveyed, 80% agree that recognition should happen on a continuous, all year round basis. By using a simple employee recognition solution like eCards as a starting point to introduce recognition into your organization, you can encourage a culture of continuous recognition with the social walls (we call ours the Wow Wall!) reinforcing and encouraging reciprocity among peer-to-peer recognition efforts.
I may not be ready for an Instagram or Snapchat account just yet, but the idea of a social recognition program is one that I can get behind. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some eCards to send …
Debra is the co-author of "Build It: The Rebel Playbook for Employee Engagement," which she wrote with Reward Gateway Founder, Glenn Elliott. She's a Rewards guru, having over 20 years experience as a rewards leader, speaker, teacher and a frequent contributor to the Reward Gateway blog.