Here's the good news - according to a recent study by SHRM and Globoforce, "80 percent of organizations reported having an employee recognition program." Why is this such good news? It means employers are understanding the significance of recognition in the workplace. It's important, however, to remember that there is not a "one size fits all" approach to implementing recognition programs. There are cases in which companies will have multiple variations based on employee recognition preferences.
Everyone likes to be recognized in different ways. What may work for one division of a company, may not be the best way to recognize another. Although many organizations have been recognizing traditional milestones such as work anniversaries, SHRM cites the following as newer trends in recognition:
- Change champion
- System improvements
- Customer retention
- Talent acquisition & retention
- Marketing diversification
- Tech advances
- Personal development
- Actions in line with organizational values
So, what should you keep in mind? Below are a few common pitfalls we came across that should help you to better define and implement what will work for your organization:
1.) No Goals or Written Process - "winging it" should not be part of a recognition program. Having clear goals which employees can achieve sets clear expectations across the board. This will avoid disappointments and provide transparency for all. As examples, employees should know:
- how they can qualify for recognition: what needs to be done/completed?
- who reviews and approves rewards or recognition
- what they can expect as the reward or recognition - i.e. a financial reward, a company-wide email, etc.
2.) The Wrong Program Altogether - before spending copious amounts of time planning a recognition program that your employees simply won't like, take the time to ask them what they would like. There are easy to use survey tools, like SurveyMonkey, that can make collection of this insight very easy. Investing a small amount of additional time in this data collection will help you to avoid rolling out a program with low engagement.
3.) Non-Existent or Little Promotion - You'll have to be involved. There's no way around it. "Set it and forget it" is, in fact, setting your new program up for failure from the start. We recommend a planned communication strategy such as pre-rollout announcements, ongoing updates, etc. Employees receive countless emails daily so having a message that is meaningful and consistent is key.
4.) No Utilization - Ensuring you're engaging your managers, users, designers, etc. throughout the entire process is a great way to build internal support for the program prior to launch. You'll want to make sure you have stakeholders across the organization that are not only going to promote the program but will actually use it.
5.) The system/program isn't user friendly - Make it easy for employees to use and for those managers rewarding the employees. Having to follow 15 steps to be rewarded provides more barriers to recognition than it's worth to most employees. On the other side, managers should be able to easily distribute the rewards/recognition without needing 5 other approvals. A few clicks is all it should take.
There is no question that recognition programs can work extremely well for organizations. They improve employee perception of the brand, increase engagement, can help reduce turnover and enhance overall employee experience. Taking steps to validate a program prior to design and getting stakeholders on-board from the start is going to give you a great foundation for the success of your program.