Forbes reported in 2012 that there is a $46 billion market for employee recognition programs. With it being such a huge market, clearly employee recognition is important for every organization to consider. Research from Bersin indicates that in “organizations where recognition occurs, employee engagement, productivity and customer service are about 14% better than in those where recognition does not occur.” With our interest piqued, Astronology® will dig deeper into the topic of employee rewards and recognition, and explore best practices for these programs.
Employee recognition programs can vary, from the very simple and inexpensive to the elaborate. No matter where your organization falls on that continuum, the stakes are high when considering the impact of a low recognition culture on an organization’s bottom line. What are some consequences of ignoring the need to recognize employee contributions?
- Low productivity and low performance
- Negative attitudes and a poor team culture
- Increased absenteeism
- Low employee retention rates and increased turnover rates
It’s safe to assume that no organization would like to have to address and reverse any of these issues. And yet, doing something doesn’t mean that it will be a success. Even more unsettling is learning that you can have a rewards and recognition program and still not meet the needs of employees. How so?
Susan M. Heathfield’s article featured on About.com points out that, for starters, many organizations believe in the “one size fits all” model when it comes to employee recognition and rewards. This results in narrow thinking when deciding when and how employees should be rewarded and recognized. As a result, employee complaints, jealousy, and dissatisfaction become prevalent. Guidelines to consider in order to create a sharper rewards and recognition program for your organization include the following:
- Decide what you want to achieve through your employee recognition efforts. A program cannot solve all problems and motivate everyone to do everything.
- Create goals and action plans for employee recognition. Metrics focus activity towards the relevant and significant.
- Ensure that fairness, clarity, and consistency are important to and evident in the program.
- Avoid “employee of the month-type programs.” These approaches are usually not clear to employees and lead to accusations of “pet employees” receiving the awards.
- Recognize all people who contributed to a success equally.
Heathfield highlights a program to increase attendance that can spur your organization’s brainstorming in the area of employee rewards and recognition. An organization hands out a three-part form or three-part certificate. During the organization’s weekly staff meeting, one form is given to employees who had perfect attendance the previous week. The second form is kept in the personnel file. The third form is entered in a monthly drawing for gift certificates. The goal and action plan for the program are clear, the raffle catches employees’ interest, and the approach avoids the angst that “employee of the month” programs can cause.
Forbes also gave the following best practices for employee recognition programs. Consider these when developing a new or reviewing an existing employee rewards and recognition program.
- Recognize people based on specific results and behaviors. Leave the “employee of the month” mentality and deliver awards based on specific actions.
- Implement peer to peer recognition, rather than the traditional top down approach. According to Forbes, “peers know what you’re doing on a day to day basis, so when they ‘thank you’ for your efforts the impact is much more meaningful. Top-down recognition is often viewed as political and it rarely reaches the ‘quiet but critical high-performers’ in the company.”
- Share recognition stories: Story telling is powerful. Sharing recognition stories can build camaraderie.
- Make recognition easy and frequent. Make it simple and clear for everyone to participate, receive, and enjoy.
- Tie recognition to your own organizational values or goals: “Too many CEOs and managers focus on bottom line results without thinking about how it feels to slog away and work without anyone saying thanks.”
Has your organization established a rewards and recognition program? Does your organization adhere to some of these suggestions? What works best for you? We’d like to hear from you! Please submit your response to Astronology® and we may feature your response!