You have rolled out the company’s recognition program, but you aren’t getting the results you need.
A well-planned recognition program delivers measurable business performance. When done right, it fosters a culture of appreciation, helping retain top talent, increasing employee engagement, and encouraging high performance. Several studies correlate positive outcomes including outperforming competition (by 20%), higher sales (up to 37%), satisfaction (50%), and reduced absenteeism (10 times fewer sick days).
From a financial point of view, employee recognition is linked to cost-savings as engaged employees are three times less likely to seek employment elsewhere. For any organization, employee turnover can be a significant cost as it results in decreased productivity, knowledge loss, and lowered morale among employees.
Apart from budget, you also need to track results. According to Deloitte, once you design an employee recognition program, you need to have metrics in place to measure the outcome – an area approximately 87% of companies do not track.
If your recognition program hasn’t delivered several of the results outlined above, what could you have done differently?
Here are five things killing your recognition program:
1. You’ve shared the recognition program details with your employees
A common mistake in several employee recognition programs is making things predictable. Sure, an annual awards ceremony is great, and your employees might even look forward to it, but unexpected recognition can be perceived as less of an entitlement and more of a personal reward, giving you higher motivation, deeper loyalty and greater employee engagement.
At DOTMENT, we have found that working on a non-communicated pillar like the element of surprise can prove to be successful. For our client Imkan, we planned a meet-and-greet for employees to get to know their new CEO. Towards the end of the event, the CEO surprised everyone with small gifts of appreciation for each person’s performance. The element of surprise in this case had a positive impact on productivity and employee morale.
Alternatively, instead of organizing a coffee morning every month to boost morale, plan unexpected moments of appreciation such as when they take on an extra project, or when they share the workload of someone who is unwell.
2. YOUR TIMING IS OFF
Recognizing your employees for their behavior, contribution, or achievement while it is still top-of-mind is important. Giving out rewards and recognition several months, or even a year later fails to deliver the intended impact. For example, if a team has reached an important milestone, it is far more effective to give them recognition immediately, instead of waiting for an official event to announce their success. At the same time, it is also important that praise or rewards match the effort. In most cases, verbal appreciation will do the job, other times, consider something more, like a gift card, or a coffee morning for the team.
For our client El Sewedy, the DOTMENT team designed a program for employees to get recognized on the spot for their achievements, i.e. when they went the extra mile. This small step in timely recognition had a major impact on overall performance.
3.Only top management is ‘in-charge’ of recognizing employees
While it’s great to be recognized by someone senior in the organization, according to a Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey, peer-to-peer recognition is approximately 36% more likely to have a positive impact on the employee’s commitment and engagement within the company’s goals. Team members who are part of the process that led to success make the recognition more powerful. To encourage peer-to-peer recognition, the DOTMENT team developed a ‘Thank You’ program for Etisalat Egypt, where employees were able to share thank you cards with each other, based on teamwork and collaborations. Even though the cards themselves had no tangible value, employees felt appreciated and were seen displaying the cards on their desks.
An employee is likely to feel a greater sense of achievement when it comes from a colleague who also stayed after hours or worked weekends to meet an important milestone.
4.You do not create ‘visible moments’, socially recognizing an employee
To showcase and celebrate successes, recognize employees in front of their peers. Create a space that puts an employee in the spotlight as the entire organization celebrates his or her success. During an internal event for Abou Ghaly Motors, the DOTMENT team recommended that the CEO recognize employees on stage. To take this one step further, the CEO memorized each employees’ name, the achievement they were being recognized for, the story of how they joined the company, and the value they bring to their team. Several employees became very emotional through this small gesture.
5.You haven’t created a balanced program across all levels
While rewarding employees for their performance or contribution is crucial, rewarding a single employee for the work they have done can be counterproductive. On the other hand, recognizing a team fails to recognize individual contributions.
Avoid this pitfall by:
- Increasing the volume of recognition.
- Getting to know your employees so you understand what type of recognition would reap the most benefits.
For example, asking an introverted person to come on stage and say a few words might backfire, whereas giving a Costa Coffee or Starbucks gift card to an employee who loves coffee will be well received. For SODIC, the DOTMENT team developed the employee recognition program and created avenues for all levels of employees to be recognized in different ways. The program was a success, creating a high level of engagement.
Adopt an effective recognition program
For a recognition program to be effective, it should meet several factors mentioned in this article as well as criteria that cover budget, organizational alignment, and one that correlates to employees’ achievements.
Sound employee engagement is a key driver of success, and adopting an effective rewards and recognition strategy can help you drive real outcomes. Remember, people are motivated by more than money, and companies need to develop recognition programs that reflect the organization’s culture, core values and workplace diversity.