It’s a time of change in the marketplace, and change is never easy. For several decades, the world has been described by the acronym VUCA “volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.” Now more than ever, that acronym is accurate. To bring your company successfully into the emerging VUCA future, employees have to be highly motivated, agile, and adaptable. After all, an agile firm has a 70 percent chance of being in the top quartile in organizational health. So, how exactly can you make employees more motivated, agile, and adaptable in the workplace? Start with employee recognition - it’s the key to growing these qualities in your workforce. If you recognize your employees, they will be motivated to go the extra mile for your organization and are more likely to repeat key behaviors.
Achievers partnered with the researchers at Brandon Hall Group to learn more about the business impact of inclusive and frequent recognition, and we’re excited to share some of our report’s discoveries here.
Employee recognition best practices
You can only achieve the necessary levels of employee engagement if you increase and improve your employee recognition efforts. This isn’t difficult to do, but it’s surprisingly rare. Despite clear evidence from behavioral science concerning the amount and type of recognition that’s most effective at building employee engagement, fewer than half of employers follow these best practices. Brandon Hall Group’s Culture of Recognition survey found, surprisingly, that only 49 percent of employers give performance-based recognition, and even fewer give recognition that is timely, frequent, and inclusive. Let’s look at each of these recognition program qualities individually:
Employee recognition has the greatest impact when it’s tied to what the person actually does. After all, you’re primarily interested in growing your workers’ key behaviors that positively impact your business and exemplify your company’s values. If you save recognition for chronological milestones such as years of service, you’re not motivating your staff to excel in their day-to-day performance. Performance-based recognition should be clearly connected to specific company goals, instead of merely to longevity. Furthermore, recognition of great work can be given much more frequently for maximum impact.
Organizations that recognize their employees frequently (multiple times every month) rate their culture of recognition 34 percent higher than those companies that don’t recognize as often, according to the survey. Positive Psychology notes that “Reinforcers delivered often and with consistency are less likely to … lose their effect, particularly in the case of new skills.” Surprisingly, Brandon Hall Group's survey found that only one quarter of companies offer frequent recognition to their employees.
Timeliness is closely related to frequency, but it’s not the same. For recognition to be timely, it must be given in real-time, shortly after the effort that it is acknowledging. The survey found that only 36 percent of companies give timely recognition, which means that in all the rest of them, there’s too long a delay in recognizing and rewarding good work. Cornell University cites research in which people were assigned to perform a work-like task. The researchers found that “An immediate bonus led to an almost 20 percent increase in the percent of people sticking with the task ..., compared with a delayed reward.”
Only 34 percent of companies give recognition that’s inclusive. If your company wants to have a true culture of employee recognition, the sharing of appreciation and rewards must extend across the entire enterprise. Nobody can be left out: Every location, team, business unit, and individual must be equally likely to have their great work noticed and praised. Inclusivity is paramount.
Additional best practices to keep in mind
In addition to the four key points mentioned above, the most powerful employee recognition programs allow appreciation to be expressed by peers as well as by managers. This appreciation includes extrinsic rewards, such as gift cards, as well as intrinsic ones, such as heartfelt appreciation. Frontiers in Psychology states that "individuals can simultaneously experience extrinsic and intrinsic motivation for doing their work.” Brandon Hall Group’s research also suggests that linking recognition and rewards to opportunity: “Offering employees new experiences as part of recognition — online learning, team projects, job rotations, or whatever is most relevant — is an important link between recognition and performance.”
R&R technology is key
Are you wondering how it’s possible to keep up with all these best practices for employee recognition? Do you have a mental picture of your desk covered with sticky notes and your screen filled with calendar reminders? The solution is: Recognition & Rewards (R&R) technology.
R&R technology is the engine behind a strong recognition culture. Brandon Hall Group reports that companies that use R&R technology are 72 percent more likely to rate their culture of recognition highly than are companies that don’t use technology. Furthermore, more employees than ever before are working remotely right now. Without recognition technology, it’s much harder to reach out to these workers. Despite the obvious advantages that R&R technology offers, however, the survey found that 56 percent of employers don’t use it. Here are just two vital outcomes of putting this technology to use in your company:
Stronger employer brand
Using R&R technology makes employees 36 percent more likely than non-tech users to rate their employer brand highly, according to the research survey.
R&R technology also has powerful effects on employee retention — the numbers in the report will surprise you. Organizations without R&R technology are 160 percent more likely than those with technology to recognize employees just twice a year or less. That infrequent recognition increases the likelihood of employee turnover and engagement challenges. Furthermore, organizations that give frequent recognition are 41 percent more likely to see increased employee retention.
Higher employee engagement
With the use of R&R technology, a culture of recognition is further enforced across the workplace. What does this mean for employee engagement? Brandon Hall Group reports that organizations that rate their culture of recognition highly are 2.5x more likely to see increased employee engagement and those that give frequent recognition are 34 percent more likely to see an uptick in engagement. This is important to note given, according to Gallup, higher engagement results in “substantially better” customer engagement, higher productivity, better retention, fewer accidents, and improved health outcomes.
Build a culture of recognition across your organization
Are you taking advantage of R&R technology at your organization? Major companies, such as Meijer, Ricoh, and General Motors, are leveraging Achievers’ award-winning recognition platform to power their recognition programs and strengthen key business metrics.
The Brandon Hall Group reports that Achievers customers are 107 percent more likely to give their culture of recognition a high rating than organizations that don’t use recognition technology. For more compelling insights, download the Brandon Hall Group full report, “The Business Impact of Inclusive and Frequent Recognition.”
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