Why Recognizing Employees For Going Above and Beyond Is a Good Thing

When employees go above and beyond in the workplace it stands out.

It’s noticeable. Exceptional. And it should be celebrated.

That is why managers need to understand the importance of recognizing employees for going above and beyond.

Why should you establish an above and beyond category to your existing recognition award programs? What are the benefits of doing so?

Why Above and Beyond Awards?

Let’s examine some typical goals and the purpose of recognizing employees for “above and beyond” actions.

Here are some goals you could consider:

  • To recognize outstanding performance by employees.
  • To demonstrate to employees that positive behaviors are valued.
  • To stimulate employee growth and development.
  • To set a standard of what above and beyond looks like.
  • To identify high performers and potential emerging leaders.
  • To align people with the corporate business goals.
  • To achieve and exceed specific objectives and key results.
  • To promote a greater connection and belonging to a team.
  • To develop a work ethic that promotes going above and beyond.
  • To increase the number of positive outcomes at work.

Have you ever asked this question when interviewing a candidate for a job position? Or perhaps you recall being asked yourself: “Give me an example of a time you feel you went above and beyond the call of duty.”

We ask people to recall above and beyond before they start working for us. Shouldn’t we remember and honor those who demonstrate above and beyond when they are working for us? Our purpose with above and beyond awards is to honor and celebrate individuals and teams for exceptional performance.

For example, in response to the several wildfires and floods in 2017, the British Columbia provincial government of Canada developed an “Above and Beyond Awards” program.

Their awards program allows anyone in the province to nominate firefighters, first responders, or any citizen of B.C., and acknowledge their exemplary service provided in response to difficult situations. The initial awardees assisted friends, neighbors, and complete strangers.

Keep in mind that every “above and beyond award” I’ve reviewed requires the same thing. They state that nominees must clearly demonstrate behaviors, or produce results, that go above and beyond the normal job expectations, or above and beyond the call of duty.

You have to spell out exactly what above and beyond means for your organization and employees. Establish specific criteria for your above and beyond award whether online or manually administered.

You can’t say things like, “Demonstrates a positive attitude toward all”, which I found on one website for an organization’s above and beyond award. That kind of quality should be part of everyone’s regular job expectations.

Now consider the Above and Beyond Award criteria that the Insurance Brokers Association of New Brunswick developed.

  • Sets a high standard of integrity by leading through example, maintaining a high personal standard and promotes a team environment;
  • Goes above and beyond by showing exceptional initiative, perseverance, accountability or commitment in meeting or exceeding consumer needs;
  • Has made and continues to make significant, positive impact on the industry by supporting knowledge sharing and efforts towards building relationships within the industry;
  • Demonstrates a commitment to the broker distribution channel through participation in industry wide initiatives and Association networking and education events.

Notice the beyond ordinary word choice, like: “high standard of integrity”, “high personal standard”, “above and beyond”, “exceptional initiative”, “exceeding consumer needs”, “significant positive impact”, and “commitment”. This sounds more like above and beyond to me.

Benefits of Recognizing Above and Beyond

Research conducted by Jana Gallus and Bruno S. Frey on Awards: A Strategic Management Perspective showed some of the benefits of above and beyond awards and formal awards in general. Their analysis demonstrates how appropriately designed award programs can enhance employee motivation, increase employee loyalty, and improve corporate performance.

Formal awards are another method of expressing recognition, which is often so lacking in companies. Awards support their recipients’ perceived competence and social status in an organization. They also help with employee retention and with establishing role models for fellow employees.

Quick Guidelines for Above and Beyond Awards 

  1. Above and beyond awards must always reflect the organizational culture and normative practices. These types of recognition programs must work strategically within your organization. Not every culture or company needs to have them. Above and beyond awards must be a fit with your leadership and management style. And it must be right for your employees too.
  2. Establish a common vision and purpose for above and beyond awards along with clear objectives. Above and beyond awards must demonstrate to all levels of employees that anyone can receive them. Criteria must be clear enough so those who adjudicate the nominations can easily judge them. Set goals for participation without forcing people to be involved.
  3. Strive for involvement from all levels of employees. Have your employees involved with whether you should have categories of excellence or just one overall award. Include employees along with leaders and managers in evaluating the nominations.
  4. Create a strong communication and publicity plan. Your above and beyond award needs to be actively promoted. Develop a communication plan for the development of nomination forms, online web presence, and speaking points for leaders. Keep the award alive all year long.
  5. Make the award event a celebration and not just a presentation. Your event for celebrating the recipients also has to be above and beyond. Show recipients how much they are valued and appreciated. Their story and experience must be shared with all employees. Storytelling is a powerful way to encourage others to go above and beyond.

Reflective Question: What does your company do to recognize staff that goes above and beyond?

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