A New Year Is Just Around The Recognition Corner

Here’s a scary reality from the latest trends in Human Resources. First off is that 53 percent of HR professionals have seen an increase in turnover in the past year. That sounds like it might be a lot of people!

Already in America the number of monthly resignations is near all-time highs.

Other research suggests 40 percent of workers are planning to leave their jobs in the next year. The media is calling it the Great Resignation.

Which means those of us in the recognition profession need to support leaders in retaining and motivating our fellow workers. Here are some ways to get in gear for recognition in 2022.

Respectful Communication

Margaret Duffy, executive director of the Novak Leadership Institute and professor of strategic communication in the Missouri School of Journalism, believes employers risk losing younger employees if they don’t make an effort to use respectful communication in the workplace.

“There’s a giant risk for employers if they don’t help employees have a sense of purpose and a sense of well-being and engagement,” Duffy said. “Coming to work may not be joyful every day, but if work is something where I can feel fulfillment, I can feel respected as a human being and most important, that I can feel that I have earned the respect and recognition that I’m given by my boss and by my co-workers.”

Their research suggests that leaders who communicate the need to establish a workplace culture of respect may see an interesting pay off. They found that early career employees had better abilities to rebound from adverse experiences. This is certainly needed in the pandemic era.

And respect is a foundation principle for giving meaningful, motivational, and memorable recognition. Work on strengthening the positive language and specificity behind recognition expressions—whether online or face-to-face.

Leadership Skill Development

To better understand the changing needs of remote or hybrid employees, organizations will need to invest and implement leadership skill development.

I shared in a previous post how exit interviews can reveal patterns of behavior from leaders contributing to people leaving. One of these qualities was a lack of empathy and emotional intelligence—both essential attributes for giving meaningful recognition.

One area that is showing challenges for leaders is the whole aspect of virtual leadership. It seems that some leaders have a hard time creating connections with their remote workers. They might think to schedule more remote meetings—more than when working in person.

To work and lead today’s hybrid workforce leaders must develop great active listening skills. This is critical to engage employees and demonstrate care and concern for people.

Take a look at your leadership development curriculum and see how much, if any, is focused on giving employees recognition that resonates with them.

Respectful Actions in Person, and Virtually

A recent study from Kansas State University and the University of Mississippi’s Novak Leadership Institute revealed that younger workers are concerned about how their managers treat them. In particular, there are two types of respect they crave:

  1. Being valued as a team member.
  2. Being respected as a person who has a life outside of work.

I hear this from my university attending grandchildren who complain about their employers not acknowledging their lives when scheduling work.

Reportedly, 50 percent of remote employees want contributions towards household bills and 46% for their home office equipment. Those employees heading into the office surprisingly named free breakfast and lunch as their top priority.

Whether you agree or disagree with these requests the principles that are important to grasp are respecting and listening to the needs of your employees in these challenging times. It also means connecting with workers so you know what contributions to value.

Employee Recognition

According to a 2016 conducted by OGO, 82% of employed Americans don’t feel their immediate supervisors or managers, recognize them enough for their contributions. And another 40% of employed Americans stated they would put more energy into their work if they were recognized more often.

Has this lack of recognition been the cause of so many employees leaving their current places of employment?

Unfortunately, with the remote workplace that most people have experienced during the pandemic, a reduced amount of recognition and rewards have been given. Leaders have not kept in touch with employees to know what they are working on and what they have achieved.

This is why I advocate that a leading indicator of recognition is the number of interactions you have with your workers. The more one-on-one interactions you have, whether in person or virtually, the more you will hear about their accomplishments, and their work and personal life. This will give you tons of information and insight on things that deserve to be recognized.

In the New Year, I recommend drilling down on your recognition program data to see where your strengths and weaknesses are. What is the ratio of non-monetary recognition being given to that of rewards? How many employees are being reached through your programs? Do you hold leaders accountable for recognizing their staff?

Take a look at your recognition program data more carefully. Move beyond analyzing the results of your online recognition programs from a descriptive and diagnostic perspective. You should be looking to correlate recognition program metrics in a predictive and prescriptive manner to elevate business performance outcomes.

Examine your recognition practices and programs to see what needs to be transformed to address the needs of employees of the future.

Recognition Reflection: How do you review your recognition practices and programs at the end of the year?

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