Monday, November 16, 2020

6 Reason Recognition Programs Fail to Boost Employee Engagement



Giving recognition and sharing appreciation is a core component of Respect for People. Employee recognition programs are a great way to boost employee engagement. However, more often than not, they end up doing the opposite of engaging people. Poorly structured employee recognition programs end up causing a lot more harm than good. 


So why do 80% of U.S. employees say they aren’t recognized enough for their contributions? 40% of employees say that they would put more energy into work if they were recognized more often. From experience here are the top 6 recognition mistakes I see happen. 


1. Rewards 

When we are constantly looking to link recognition to rewards - gift cards, pizza parties, certificates, a "free" day off work - we take the focus away from the team members and their contributions and shift attention to the rewards. 


2. Generic 

When we give the generic "thanks, bud" or "appreciate you" or "you're the best" recognition, it doesn't feel like it's authentic recognition- and team members are left wondering "what for." 


3. Immaterial 

When we share appreciation for random things that don't tie back to our purpose, goals, and priorities, then the impact of that recognition gets lost. 


4. Incomplete 

When we give recognition without sharing the "so what", it's incomplete and doesn't have the same meaningful impact that effective recognition has. 


5. Infrequent 

When recognition is an event or an occasional activity, the scarcity doesn't increase the value of it - it actually detracts value. Ever hear someone say "I do ten things right and never hear a word - I do one thing wrong and never hear the end of it"? Yeah - that doesn't lead to engagement, commitment, and action. 


6. Similar 

When we give everyone the same reward or recognition it lessens the weight of the gesture. 


So what are we to do? 


Let’s see five practices for employee recognition that organizations could follow and build in their organizations. 


1. Tailor recognition to the individual 

Leading companies are now understanding the need for recognizing individual employees in individual different ways. 


2. Teams need recognition too 

Organizations are often made up of different teams. Teams are made up of different individuals. Individuals should be recognized for their contributions, but so must teams. 


3. Recognition can be shown in different ways 

Recognition does not have to have a tangible form every time. A pat on the back, a social media mention for an employee’s good work, an appreciation card on the employee’s desk, a special mention in the weekly meeting, a lunch treat and a “thank you for the good work” note, are just some of the ways in which to show recognition. 


4. Make recognition a part of your daily work culture 

Some companies create formal recognition programs and some prefer to make recognition a part of the daily work culture. When managers and organizations align recognition and appreciation with the larger company goals, daily gestures of employee recognition can boost performance and accelerate growth. 


5. Merge recognition with company values 

When companies merge company values with recognition programs, they grow faster. 


There is no one standard formula or way to do it. And there is no limit to the ways in which you can show recognition to your employees and your teams. Management must create formal recognition programs aligned with the company culture and goals. Companies should create their own ways of recognizing their employees. If possible, combine all of the above five points, to have the most effective recognition culture. 


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