“There are two things people want more than sex and money: recognition and praise.”
– Mary Kay Ash, Founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics
Why is employee recognition so important?
We are living in a world disrupted by technological innovation and tectonic shifts in consumer expectations. The business operating environment has become Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA). Stories of how dominant industry giants of the past like Blockbuster and Nokia were caught by disruption to become irrelevant almost overnight have been repeated many times as cautionary tales in a VUCA world.
How do companies thrive in a VUCA world? They need a good strategy supported by highly engaged employees to help them become more adaptive, innovative, collaborative and agile. Companies wanting to improve customer experience need to heed this advice: You’re never going to give good customer experience if you don’t offer good employee experience.
Employee recognition can contribute to an overall positive employee experience that will drive the creation of high performing teams. According to Glassdoor.com, more than 80 percent of employees said they were motivated to work harder and stay at their jobs longer when they received appreciation for their work.
An engaged employee is more committed to do great work that delights customers and is less likely to leave the company. These characteristics of an engaged employee contribute to a company’s bottom line. Therefore, a well-executed employee recognition program should be an integral part of any company’s talent management program.
What is the state of employee recognition now?
The statistics around employee recognition is bleak. It clearly shows that companies need to take a hard look at the effort they are putting into recognizing employees for good work done. The good news is, there is plenty you can do to improve how you recognized your best performers.
What can companies do to improve employee recognition?
How do companies make the most out of their investments in employee recognition? Here are a few suggestions.
- Promote a culture of recognition
Now that we understand how important recognition is, it should be something that companies do on a daily basis, starting with the top management demonstrating how they would walk the talk. A simple thank you from the boss costs almost nothing but would make a world of difference in motivating the employees who received them. Recognizing your team in company communications and social media is also a great way to show you care and to create a sense of pride in the employees.
- Measure & improve recognition efforts
Companies should also measure how well employees feel recognized in different parts of the organization by conducting regular employee engagement pulse surveys. Consider designing survey questions to gather data-driven insights to focus their efforts in improving employee recognition culture.
- Listen & be flexible
Instead of taking the traditional one-size-fit-all approach in designing employee rewards and recognition program, companies can consider using an open and anonymous channel to solicit new ideas and suggestions from employees on what will make them feel more valued. We at SelfDrvn Enterprise have taken the idea of dot voting and turned it into a mobile game on our platform where employees could vote anonymously on their peer’s ideas and get rewarded with participation points.
- Recognize not just good outcomes, but the right behaviors & attitude
There are occasions where the right behaviors can be leading indicators of positive business outcomes. For example, in addition to recognizing an employee achieving their sales target, recognizing the initiative that the employee has taken to learn how to sell new products may have a positive impact on his sales performance in the future.
- Promote peer recognition
In addition to formal recognition by company and direct managers, peer recognition can help create a sense of team spirit, friendship and belonging among the employees. Not only that, Employee Engagement Survey Research from Gallup has found that close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50% and people with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to engage fully in their work.
- Make it personal and specific.
At the end of day, recognition is only effective if it is heartfelt, personal and specific to the positive behavior of the employees and the result achieved by them. It shouldn’t feel like “a computer-generated email”. A good communication on recognition should be written in a personal style like a thank you card and should be specific about:
- Who is being recognized?
- Who is recognizing them?
- What specific individual action or decision deserved the recognition?
- Make it fun!
More and more, companies are leveraging mobile technology and gamification to reward and recognize employees. With technology, recognition can become more “agile” where people could be recognized instantly by managers and peers for good action taken. With API integration to business systems, companies can create an employee-centric, game-like experience where employees get instant feedback and immediate recognition whenever they hit their key performance indicators. Through instant recognition powered by technology, the employees will perceive a strong link between their actions and the recognition received, and they are more motivated to repeat them in the future
With innovative HR technology, there are also other mechanisms like live auction & shopping cart using employee reward points that will add a creative twist & personalized flavor on employee rewards & recognition.
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