Employee Engagement Internal Communication

Are We What We Recognize?

Every organization big or small finds ways to reward and recognize their employees to motivate and inspire others to contribute to business success. Addressing rewards and recognition is seen as a key lever for enhancing employee engagement. An effective recognition program is expected to raise the bar with engagement – up to 40%.  Unfortunately, not every recognition program works well. When employees lose trust in the process and believe there is bias in how employees are recognized, they disengage.

In our effort to please all types of personalities and levels in the organization recognition programs end up diluting the very behaviors we want to inculcate or change. Gimmickry and frivolous awards are created to make it ‘inclusive’. This alienate employees even more than ever. In the long run, organizations’ cultures are shaped by how we recognize who we are and what we stand for.

Therefore, to audit your recognition agenda consider the following questions:

  • What kind of behavior do we focus on?
  • What do we currently highlight? Is is the ‘extra’ effort or the teamwork or the quality of output we want?
  • What gets our leaders’ attention? And therefore what do managers have their eyes peeled on?
  • Which kind of employee profiles and personalities are valued often? For example, are introverts seen as worthy of praise when they do great work?
  • Is it only about business or does it also include ‘giving’ back or ‘going the extra mile’ for the communities you serve?
  • Do employees believe the recognition process is fair and transparent?
  • Is there too much or too little of recognition?

To know if your organization has a recognition culture you need to observe your employees’ and leaders’ behaviors carefully. Watch how employees react when they receive their awards – online or offline. See what leaders focus on. Listen to how they want to be motivated.

Daily acts of recognition are known to improve the chances of organizations being perceived as great places to work. Recognizing that a psychologically healthy workplace where employees are recognized for who they are can improve productivity. Likewise, social recognition is gaining ground. Do employees share their recognition with their peers and friends? How do they feel about the awards they receive? What employees see is what they believe is the recognition culture. Often employees feel they are recognized yet the recognition isn’t valued. Or they get recognized but no one knows about it – they don’t get the ‘visibility’.

To get the most of your recognition program and therefore communicate the essence effectively you need to think hard about your philosophy. Consider how recognition can become part of the DNA and help employees appreciate what ‘great’ vs ‘mediocre’ performance is. Write up citations that justify why an individual or a team deserves to be recognized.

It is about optics and about what employees’ value. Blending a personalized experience and a visible community experience can help differentiate great organizations that recognize from others who make feeble attempts.

What are your views?

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