Each organization has at
least one person in their midst who doesn’t get it with employee recognition.
Which is why when I was in a meeting this week with several representatives from an organization I am working with, someone boldly asked me a question related to a person who is likely a non-recognizer. This courageous individual asked, how do you respond to people who ask, “Why are you working so hard on recognition?”
They are asking how do
you address naysayers in an organization. They want to know how they should
stand up to these types of people and substantiate the merit of the
time and effort they are putting into the cause of improving employee
How do should you respond to someone like this who is negative, opinionated, and sometimes even derails your efforts to make recognition happen in your organization?
A recognition strategy is a written document
that outlines the purpose, direction, goals, and plans, for you and your
organizational leaders to commit to doing, and make recognition giving a way of
life and not just a program.
However, according to the latest WorldatWork
2019 Trends in Employee Recognition Survey, only 49 percent of the surveyed
organizations have a written recognition strategy.
For that reason, I am helping you with how
to create a written one-page recognition strategy to ensure you have something
rather than nothing.
If you haven’t already heard, there are fewer
companies today than 2 years ago that have a written recognition strategy. Wow!
That’s a shame.
According to the latest WorldatWork 2019 Trends
in Employee Recognition, only 49 percent of the organizations they surveyed
have a written recognition strategy. Fortunately, for the nearly half of these
organizations with a recognition strategy, 97 percent are aligned with
their organization’s business strategy.
The surprising thing was seeing how the
percentage of organizations with a recognition strategy declined from 55
percent in 2017 to 49 percent in 2019. I really thought more organizations
would commit to writing one. But, alas, I was wrong.
Why would organizations not have a recognition
strategy? Let’s examine some possible reasons why this
Whether approaching the end of a calendar year
or a time to consider a refresh of your recognition practices and programs, it
is important to ask yourself as the recognition owner in your organization,
“Where do we most need to improve recognition?”
Often this whole question of improvement
follows the review of your annual employee engagement survey. Right off
the bat I can tell you that if the average score of your recognition related
questions on your survey is less than 65 percent, then you are dealing with
issues with your daily recognition practices of everyday recognition.
Looking at everyday recognition, you know this
should happen on a daily or weekly basis and impact between 80 and 100 percent
of your employees. This is a great opportunity to work on.
Where else can you improve recognition at your
organization? What are some practical steps you can take?
It seems there
is a massive absence of recognition in the workplace.
In fact, you can
call this absence a recognition famine because there is an extreme scarcity of
people acknowledging, praising, and appreciating one another.
Organization has long stated that 67% of employees report not being recognized
for doing good work in the last seven days.
healthcare organization I was consulting for I broke the frequency of
recognition down in finer detail.
How often we
receive recognition can be as important as how and who gives the recognition. I
asked these healthcare employees how often they received recognition or
praise from their immediate supervisor or manager for the work they do. The
statement ended with “at least” and then the time frame statements of daily,
weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually, or not at all.
Only 11% of
these healthcare employees stated they received recognition on a weekly basis,
so well below the Gallup average of 33%. Another 33% indicated managers
had recognized them within a month. But there was nearly another
third of the employees who said managers never recognized them at all.
This is a crime.
Let me give you
some ideas for stemming the recognition famine that might happen where you
I love reading
the latest business books and business magazines that inspire me to think about
employee recognition in a fresh new way.
For example, in the September-October Harvard Business Review (HBR) there’s a great article on Put Your Purpose at the Core of Your Strategy by Thomas W. Malnight, professor at IMD, Ivy Buche, associate director, Business Transformation Initiative at IMD, and Charles Dhanaraj, a professor at Temple University.
Now, as you
would expect from HBR, these academics are addressing purpose as it relates to
business strategies. But I instantly saw the application of the principles in
this article towards creating a recognition strategy.
When you search
out Recognition Professionals International’s (RPI) seven best practices
standards you’ll learn that their first standard is Recognition Strategy.
RPI defines a
Recognition Strategy as a written strategy statement and plan with specific
program objectives, with recognition aligned to the organization’s culture
(i.e. vision, mission and values) and the business strategy and
objectives. They use a three-dimensional recognition approach of formal,
informal and day-to-day recognition practices. This Recognition Strategy
document typically outlines the procedures and processes used and the
program delivery methods for the various types of recognition adopted.
My definition of
a recognition strategy includes a few more features that help make your
recognition strategy a working, actionable tool.
you think strategically about recognition and rewards or with trying to
implement them, do you have a logical order in how you think about them or
I have a bias in that I am foremost a recognition strategist before
thinking about rewards. But I completely understand the place for rewards and
know the value they play in both recognition and reward strategies.
I think there is a psychological and practical reason for prioritizing
recognition before rewards.
I have seen
where after a poor performance on the recognition measures of a recent employee
engagement survey that the CEO tells all the leaders and managers to go out
there and give more recognition to people.
You can probably
guess why the senior leader asked them to do that. The reason was to
improve the recognition scores on the next engagement survey.
from on high doesn’t work.
recognition to the people you work with for the sake of the numbers is not why
you want to recognize others more.
It is not about
numbers and measuring the occurrence of recognition. It is about giving
recognition more purposefully.