How to Build a Recognition Strategy Fit for Your Organization
Posted by Nikki Morrison on Fri, Mar 22, 2019 @ 10:00 AM

Janice makes a good salary at her job and she routinely delivers excellent work that improves her company’s bottom line. But recently she’s been feeling underappreciated. Her results are often attributed to her managers and her superiors rarely pay attention to her achievements. It’s frustrating. In fact, she’s thinking of looking for a position elsewhere because she doesn’t think her current employer values her contributions, and she wants to be in a place where she can grow.

Chances are, someone like Janice works at your company. 

Our 2017 Trendicators™ Report revealed that nearly half of employees would leave a job over lack of recognition and unfair compensation, and one in four employees consider lack of recognition to be the most important reason they would leave. 

The research is clear: recognition is essential for engaging and retaining your best workers. But many companies don’t achieve the outcomes they want because they don’t have a cohesive strategy in place. 

Here’s how you can change that. 

Align Recognition with Business Strategy. Emily Gatton, Vice President of Solutions at Engage2Excel, recommends defining the business strategy before discussing a recognition program. That’s because recognition is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. An effective recognition strategy should promote behaviors that communicate and support your organizational goals by: 

  • Aligning with overall corporate goals
  • Rewarding quality of work as well as quantity of work
  • Linking rewards to specific objectives or values
  • Reaching workers in all parts of the organization, including those who don’t have access to a computer
  • Defining success metrics 

Develop Your Recognition Program. Recognition software and apps are popular ways to promote engagement, but don’t make the mistake of delegating recognition exclusively to online tools and monetary reward systems. Some of the most meaningful recognition comes in the form of face-to-face interactions with an employee’s manager or a high-level company leader as part of a culture of recognition. 

An effective recognition strategy emphasizes frequent, personal acknowledgements of an employee’s contributions. These interactions should feel like an organic part of day-to-day interactions rather than a top-down initiative. For example, managers should make a habit of recognizing a job well done with a word of thanks. Even a simple email or handwritten note can let an employee know their efforts are valued, and that can make a huge difference in morale and engagement. 

Within a culture of recognition, the programs should reward and celebrate accomplishments. Be sure to consider various work environments and departments within your organization and create tailored programs if necessary. For instance, you may need to implement online and print options to reach employees both in the office and those not sitting behind a desk. Here are some ideas to help you get started: 

  • Recognition software & AI chatbots – Software and AI offer a wide variety of tools to help promote and give in-the-moment recognition, track performance and develop an award system for service, productivity or showcasing cultural values.
  • Peer-to-peer recognition – Use a nomination system or internal messaging system to promote recognition among colleagues.
  • Social recognition – Use social recognition tools to catch employees in the act of doing something great and share their accomplishments via an app or social platform.
  • Printed recognition cards – For employees who don’t work at a desk, develop branded cards that can be handed out to earn awards.
  • Public appreciation – Recognize high performers during a meeting or company gathering.
  • Celebrations – Take employees out to lunch to celebrate a team accomplishment or provide opportunities for in-office celebrations to recognize milestone achievements.
  • On-the-spot recognition – Provide managers with the authority to give on-the-spot rewards to team members who exhibit exceptional achievement or excellent work on a specific project.

Communicate Before, During and After the Program Launch. Communication is the key to achieving the best results from your recognition program. Start by getting stakeholders on board and encouraging them to back the program. Train managers to value recognition and to provide both formal and informal feedback.

Before the launch, explain the program to employees and let them know how it will affect them. You may want to conduct focus groups to gauge employee reactions and address any concerns or negative perceptions.

During the launch, ensure that managers are available for questions and provide regular updates via email or printed messages to keep the program top-of-mind.

After the launch, follow-up with employees to assess how the program is working for them. Make sure all information is communicated clearly and that employees understand both short-term and long-term goals.

Finally, amid the buzz surrounding the new program, remember that personal interaction with managers is still the most effective form of recognition. If managers aren’t on board with making the effort to personally recognize employees, even the best programs will fall short. 

Topics: employee recognition

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