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Employment Today, HR Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Employment Today, HR Solutions - Thomson Reuters



Employment Today Magazine

Remuneration Remedies—Recognition—the ultimate total reward tool

The great thing about recognition is it makes people valued in ways that pure compensation can’t, says Susan Doughty. She explains how to develop a recognition programme with lasting impact.

FEELING VALUED IS THE cornerstone of successful recognition and the key reason why it can be such a powerful reward tool. Yet most recognition programmes fail to deliver a lasting impact.

A recent study by Quantum Workplace found less than one percent of organisations actually perform best in this area. The study of almost 400,000 employees highlighted the top 10 recognition drivers (over and above a pay increase at No. 1):

2.
Access to new learning/training opportunities;
3.
Spontaneous cash bonus;
4.
More flexibility/autonomy;
5.
Granted time off;
6.
A promotion;
7.
Praise from direct manager;
8.
Praise from senior leadership;
9.
Additional job responsibility;
10.
Team celebration;
11.
Personalised gift (plaque or company merchandise).

This research shows that while recognition related to new learning/training opportunities, promotions, more flexibility and autonomy are amongst the most important recognition actions, a plaque/company merchandise—which is the most common form of recognition in many organisations—is the least favoured.

For recognition to increase or maintain engagement, it needs to come in a form employees’ value and a frequency they want. The research finds a quarter of respondents feel they are being recognised too infrequently with the top five initiatives, but conversely too often with additional job responsibility! A sign perhaps that employees are being asked to do more with less?

Quantum’s research shows that as an employee’s engagement increased, they were more likely to report the frequency of recognition was just right. Likewise hostile employees were nearly four times more likely to say they received too little recognition.

When the top 11 forms of recognition are looked at by engagement profile—engaged, contributing, disengaged or hostile—a pay increase ranks No. 1 across all profiles and a person-alised gift (plaque or company merchandise) consistently ranks the lowest at No. 11. In particular, the more engaged the employee the higher they value new learning and training opportunities. This presents a significant opportunity for organisations to capitalise on.

Best practice recognition programmes tend to have the following key attributes:

  • • 
    There is a clear link between recognition and the company’s goals, values and culture;
  • • 
    Recognition comes in a form that is valued by employees and at a frequency they want;
  • • 
    Recognition actions are much more than the employee of the month award process;
  • • 
    The most powerful recognition programmes are multi-levelled targeting individual, team or organisation-wide recognition;
  • • 
    Peer-to-peer recognition becomes part of the social fabric of the organisation.

In order to deliver effective recognition you should be asking the following key questions:

  • • 
    What are your employees’ perceptions on recognition—do they match the company’s?
  • • 
    Do you know how your employees want to be recognised?
  • • 
    Do you know what types of recognition come too often or not enough and why?
  • • 
    Are you able to recognise employees in real-time via interactive online platforms?
  • • 
    Is recognition tied to individual, team, organisational goals?
  • • 
    Are employees able to publicly recognise their co-workers?

Once it is understood what recognition is important to employees and how they wish to receive it, consider the different recognition tiers and build your programme accordingly. The following are some of the ideas we have gathered.

Tier 1: Formal and informal recognition by the CEO or senior leaders through:

  • • 
    A formal quarterly and annual award framework aligned to the organisation’s goals, values and culture;
  • • 
    Spontaneous recognition by the CEO through a phone call, email, letter or lunch date with employees;
  • • 
    Public recognition through social media;
  • • 
    An invitation to take part in a key development opportunity.

Tier 2: Timely and frequent formal and informal recognition by managers through:

  • • 
    Nominations for quarterly awards;
  • • 
    Spontaneous cash bonus/prize;
  • • 
    Access to new learning/training opportunities;
  • • 
    Granting of more flexibility/autonomy;
  • • 
    A “surprise” celebration for an employee or team;
  • • 
    Promotions for high achievers;
  • • 
    Inclusion in key talent programmes;
  • • 
    Use of leader boards to create public acknowledgement;
  • • 
    Public thank-you to employees via internal web.

Tier 3: Peer-to-peer. This is a great way to encourage a positive atmosphere and foster collaboration and teamwork and culture. Initiatives may include:

  • • 
    Making recognition social and part of the fabric of the company’s culture;
  • • 
    Thank you and applause cards with small token prizes;
  • • 
    Use of social media tools. “Tweet” a shout-out to peers or create a link on your intranet page where employees can “high five” each other at a moment’s notice;
  • • 
    A “Recognition Raffle”. Each time an employee receives recognition from a peer, they are entered into a prize raffle;
  • • 
    Display thank you or values cards on a central bulletin board or the intranet to foster a positive work environment;
  • • 
    Consider a “company store” where employees can trade points they’ve earned for prizes. (Note: a company store does not include company merchandise as prizes.)

When organisations are struggling to attract critical skill and improve engagement and retention in an era of cost containment and margin pressure, recognition is the ideal programme to focus on—and it’s relatively low cost.

SUSAN DOUGHTY is a director of DSD Consulting.

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