According to a recent Gallup poll, praise and recognition have proven benefits within an organization. Gallup’s research shows that regular recognition increases productivity and employee engagement while lowering turnover and accident rates. Therefore, every company should follow the five tips below to improve their employee recognition program.
Many employee recognition ideas and awards are based on generic categories or concepts, such as “employee of the month.” However, studies continually show that employees respond better to individualized recognition. Therefore, every employee recognition award should be tailored to the employee’s personality and preferences. In fact, certain sociable employees will respond better to public acknowledgement in front of a crowd while introverted employees may respond better to a one-on-one commendation and handshake. Likewise, certain employees will appreciate monetary rewards while others will prefer intangible perks, such as a reserved parking spot. Therefore, management should personally engage employees and understand their interests, motivations and background.
Employee recognition programs sometimes can create resentment if improperly managed. That is, employee recognition must be genuinely deserved. Otherwise, the value and effectiveness of the recognition program will be undermined. Employees may collectively disengage and avoid attending recognition events as a result. Therefore, awards and acknowledgements must be specific and not standardized or predictable. For example, consider randomly awarding employees for specific acts of kindness, business excellence or great customer service. To be most effective, consider publicly reading a well-written note from a customer or coworker that explains and justifies the award.
Recognition traditionally comes from the top to the bottom. In other words, management has historically been responsible to award and recognize employees. However, the decisions they make may be subjective and based on personal opinion. Supervisors may attempt to mask their hidden intentions through exaggerating the target employee’s contributions. This will surely result in resentment from co-workers, especially if the coveted monetary award is rather large. Therefore, management should consider having employees nominate their co-workers for the award. Anonymous voting is also an excellent way to increase employee buy-in and decrease antipathy towards nominees.
Every business process or program must be measurable. Being unable to properly measure the effectiveness of a program may result in distorted or ineffectual results. For example, executives may actively support a traditional monthly award that employees simply do not care about. On the other hand, employees may not respond well to management’s thoughtful attempts to increase motivation and employee satisfaction. Consequently, every appreciation program will need objective metrics in order to benchmark the effectiveness of the program. This can be accomplished through anonymous employee surveys. Be sure to consistently offer the same questions in order to properly evaluate the program’s effectiveness through the years.
Awards and acknowledgements cannot be random gift handbags or certificates. In fact, management should carefully select gifts or awards that reinforce the company’s core values and vision. For example, a health foods company can award an employee who contributes to higher quality products through inviting them to speak at a health and wellness conference or represent the company at the next expo event. On the other hand, companies can create unique awards that reinforce the brand while recognizing the employee. On the other hand, an athletic equipment company could award employees prestigious awards that are shaped like their favorite sports activity. For example, an employee who enjoys jogging could be awarded a pair of miniature tennis shoes. These awards are highly individualized and meaningful.
To review, employee recognition programs are an essential way to increase employee satisfaction and productivity. Awards that are individualized, rightly deserved, measurable and aligned with core company values will increase the program’s effectiveness.