Published 26 October 2017 Category: Workplace, Business, SMEs, Startups, Entrepreneurs, Compass Tips

Employee Recognition: 12 Key Considerations

Employee recognition is one of the most powerful employee engagement and retention tools you have at your disposal. It’s your key to leveling the playing field. Salary isn’t the only effective means of attracting, inspiring, and retaining star employees. One of the assets a company has is its culture. Building an extraordinary culture of recognition and appreciation can level the playing field between companies large and small, high tech and low tech, startups and global institutions.

So how do you build a recognition-rich culture of appreciation?
To get you started, here are some traits that every great employee recognition program exhibits.

Frequency
For recognition to be its most effective, it must be frequent. It’s not enough to recognise contributions on a yearly, monthly, or even weekly basis. There are countless ways each member of your team is bringing you closer to your goals each day. Recognising the multitude of efforts, and showing your appreciation for them is the foundation of a strong organisational culture.

Spontaneity
An effective recognition program is lightweight and easy enough to be spontaneous. Giving recognition on a schedule, even if it is given frequently, inevitably rings hollow. You need to be able to give recognition just as easily at 3:00am as you would at 3:00pm. The moment you start scheduling recognition is the moment it starts to feel gratuitous - not only to give, but also to receive.

Timeliness
Timing is crucial for building motivational inertia. Recognition has the greatest potential for impact right in the moment that a valuable contribution was made. Hearing applause for great work weeks or months later is problematic.

Specificity
Effective recognition is tied to specific actions and achievements. Without this, there’s less value in giving it. If you tell someone ‘great job,’ and consider that good enough, you’re missing out on a couple huge opportunities. It’s important to explain exactly which job that someone did that was great, and why it was great; otherwise they’re not receiving crucial feedback that could help them achieve great things more reliably.

Inclusivity
From new hires to team leads and even executives, everyone should be participating. Just because you don’t often talk to the people in the IT department doesn’t mean they’re not providing an absolutely vital service to your organisation. They need and deserve a show of appreciation and recognition for the work they do, just as much as anyone else.

Even senior leaders need a show of appreciation from time to time.

Participation
Don’t just include everyone, encourage their participation — this doesn’t mean mandating participation — we all know how well that goes. A great recognition program is irresistible to participate in. Why is this important? The more people who participate, the more people who have a vested interest in the program’s effectiveness.

Feedback
Honest, constructive feedback is crucial, and your team is a priceless source for it — they’ll help you develop the most effective employee recognition program possible. Find out what is actually working, and what isn’t. There are a lot of great tools that can help you do this, but the most important thing is to do it regularly, and take action based on the feedback you receive.

Transparency
It’s absolutely crucial for an employee recognition system to be transparent. Whether it’s drawing names from a hat, nepotism, favoritism, or any other unfair practice influencing the system, transparency is the key to eliminating it. Employees need to know that the system is fair, and give them an unobstructed view is the best way to dispel any notions of foul play.

Visibility
Speaking of clear view, an effective employee recognition system isn’t just transparent, it’s highly visible. Private recognition has its place, but public recognition has some unique benefits that can’t be underestimated. For many people, public praise provides stronger motivation than private praise, but that’s not the sole benefit. Visible recognition provides a great example of commendable work for others to emulate.

Alignment
To be its most effective, your recognition program should be closely aligned with your organisational goals. It’s important to recognise great work, but it’s even more important to recognise and identify the connection between that great work and the impact it has on the team, and the organisation’s goals.

The effort you’re putting into work aren’t just advancing the goals of a thing, they’re advancing your own goals.

Rewards
Engagement and participation in the system are often directly impacted by the existence of a reward.

Measurability
Is your employee recognition program working at all? If it is, how well is it working - what areas is it impacting, and to what degree is it impacting them. Talent management is changing, much like marketing did in the early 2010’s - it’s becoming more results-driven and data-centric.

In a study of 834 organisations, “recognition-rich culture” actually had 31% lower voluntary turnover rates.” It may be hard to believe, but that single factor really was responsible for such a dramatic reduction in turnover - and a dramatic reduction in turnover can mean the difference between a good year, and a great year.

Employee recognition is one of the most impactful ways you can level the talent playing field between you and even your largest competitors.