Companies who recognize their people are more apt to sustain performance excellence.
Throughout my career, I have seen the power of recognizing people’s efforts. Countless studies have shown that when people feel appreciated and get recognized, they are more engaged, more motivated and more productive. The result is greater productivity that leads to better business results. If it’s that easy, why aren’t more organizations taking advantage of this opportunity to maximize business results?
There are many reasons why companies ignore meaningful employee recognition. Some may have a culture whereby they believe their compensation package is sufficient to fully engage their people. Hopefully the number of companies with these antiquated management styles is dropping dramatically, but they do still exist.
Other companies may see employee recognition as too difficult to manage and oversee, too hard to keep it from becoming an entitlement, or simply too costly an investment. It is often viewed as one of those intangible activities many organizations have difficulty incorporating into their management practices.
Employee recognition is a key component of a comprehensive total rewards program, which includes compensation, benefits, performance, work-life and recognition programs, and professional development opportunities. Each component of a total rewards program serves to assist in the attraction, retention, engagement and motivation of an organization’s workforce. If even a single component is missing, a valuable opportunity to capitalize on ways to provide a compelling benefit to employees could be lost.
Organizations need to think of employee recognition as a strategic advantage and a key differentiator in a total rewards program, inherently improving the ability to attract and retain better employees. Employee recognition should be viewed as a long-term investment that helps build the employer’s brand and establishes them as a top employer.
An employee recognition strategy, implemented correctly, helps shape the behaviors that will ensure the development of a culture of employee recognition. Ultimately, this culture will foster a climate that will drive greater business results in performance, productivity, profits and employee pride.
In my years of involvement with, and overseeing, employee recognition, I have found five important principles to consider when developing a recognition strategy:
- Choose a common strategy. Choose and stick to one strategy for the whole organization. It should be inclusive of all divisions and departments and deployed uniformly.
- Secure executive sponsorship. Obtain buy-in from senior management so the message is consistently reinforced across all areas of the organization. This sponsorship must be fully understood and embraced by all members of management.
- Link values and strategic objectives. The employee recognition strategy must be aligned with other company values and objective. Initiatives that aren’t linked or aligned with strategic plans won’t be sustained. Also, introduce complementary programs, such as peer-to-peer recognition for those who demonstrate behaviors in line with company values.
- Create a culture which encourages everyone to participate. Ensure the recognition program includes all employee groups (from top to bottom) and make it accessible to every shift and location.
- Allow for flexibility. Within the confines of the strategy, allow for a certain flexibility to allow for differences for those giving and receiving recognition.
With budgets becoming even tighter, more organizations are looking to a total rewards approach to attract, retain, engage and motivate their workforce. The execution of a well-thought-out employee recognition strategy goes a long way toward retaining top talent and driving performance that encourages long-term business returns.
The spinoffs of promoting a culture of employee recognition includes benefits such as stronger leadership skills, improved team-building practices and the promotion of positive employee relations—all of which will make the organization an even better place to work.
For an organization to truly benefit from a simple act of recognition, organizational designers should consider the following factors to form the basis of a recognition strategy:
- Simplicity. The value of saying thank you should not be underestimated. This simple act may be your most powerful—and inexpensive—asset.
- Specificity. Ensure you are saying specifically what it is that someone did that warrants recognition so he/she will know what behavior to repeat.
- Timeliness. Employee recognition should occur as close as possible to the behavior you want to reinforce. Delayed recognition diminishes its value significantly.
- Sustainability. The employee recognition program must be completely integrated into the culture of the organization. It must become part of daily business activities and function in a manner that is active, not passive.
- Modeling. Managers at all levels must become leaders in modeling good recognition behaviors.
- Suitability. Give it some thought. Take time to ensure the recognition is suitable for the behavior or level of accomplishment and appropriate for the individual receiving it.
- Coaching/Training. Do not assume managers know how to build employee recognition into their workdays. Provide training on how to model the behaviors you want others to exhibit, and don’t miss opportunities to monitor and coach daily. Remember that as humans, we mimic what we observe and experience.
Ultimately, your human resources are the organization’s competitive advantage and your opportunity to grow and sustain your business. Top-performing employees who fit the culture of your organization are golden. They are the “gold nuggets in the mine.” They are the top talents who will raise the bar to a level that will drive and sustain performance excellence throughout your business. So what’s your plan to sustain your company by unleashing the power of employee recognition? iBi