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
Choosing the right awards
for your various incentive and recognition programs is never an easy task. You want
to show employees that their contributions are valued and appreciated. Awards should
match your program’s goals and celebrate employee achievements. Today’s
employees want more than the traditional award items. So here are the Top 10
Ways to Select the Right Incentive or Recognition Award to help you.
1. Clearly spell out your program purpose. Is this award for a sales campaign? Are you wanting
to get people enlisted in your health and wellness platform? Or is this a
prestigious award for the president’s excellence program? Awards must always
fit the program purpose and performance level.
2. Have employees involved and ask them. Use an employee survey to get the big picture view
of employee input. Ask them to prioritize on criteria such as the meaningfulness
and perception of various award options. Draw upon focus groups too so you can
dig deeper. Solicit the why behind each employee idea.
3. Focus on the meaningfulness factor. Employees are very clear on whether an award item is
meaningful or not. Always add onto the
award presentation. For example, who’s presenting the award? How have you
orchestrated the total award celebration experience? What elements can you make
4. Inspire and excite award recipients. Does the incentive or recognition award inspire the
recipient to do, and be, better? As you explore award items – whether tangible
gifts or symbolic awards – find out how excited employees are to receive them.
Evaluate the emotional appeal of the awards you’re thinking about.
5. Provide choice wherever you can. Giving people exciting options to decide from is a
great way to create motivation. Whether the awards are lifestyle, health and
fitness, electronics, outdoor, or experiential items, charitable donations, or gift
cards. Think choice! This factor can be especially critical with incentives.
6. Always use quality, name brand products. It can be a real let down when an award gift breaks
or stops functioning shortly after receiving it. Stick with brand name items
that are top quality. Ensure your award vendor is reputable and has a great
exchange and replacement policy. Your award speaks for you.
7. Put symbolic awards on a pedestal. Trophies and medals must be totally representative
of your organization. Look at Olympic medals and the Oscars® for what they mean
to recipients. Whatever symbolic awards you design must be an extension of the
company and your brand. They will become a treasured prize.
8. Think outside of the box for novel ideas. No need to stay with the tried and true award
selections. Dabble in creativity such as a customized portrait painting from a
family photo of a recipient. Provide an opportunity to learn something new from
an expert that the employee has mentioned such as painting or in music.
9. Move from tangible to experiential. Corporate volunteer trips to destinations around the
world appeal to younger generation employees. They can build schools or set up
wells with water access. This is a fully immersive cultural and teambuilding
experience that leaves a legacy associated with your company.
10. Choose your own adventure. Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman made famous the idea of doing things before you “kick the bucket”. Have employees choose experiences that bring joy. It could be skydiving, an amazing destination experience like whale watching in Patagonia, or cooking with a chef in Paris.
As previously published by the author in Incentive Magazine.
Career milestone award or service
award recognition programs have been around for many years.
Over those years there have been
the customary plaques, symbolic crystal awards, and gold watches—and these used
to start when a person reached 25-years of service.
But as tenure reduced significantly
with economy and business changes, and retention of employees was harder to
maintain, career milestones now begin at 5 years and 5-year increments
thereafter. Today, you will find many companies now start career milestones at
an employee’s first year of service.
The reality is, whether you give an
employee something tangible or not, they always have a workplace anniversary
every single year.
How do you plan to make the next
round of your milestone recognition celebrations more meaningful and effective?
Vineet Nayar, an Indian business executive and former Chief Executive Officer of HCL Technologies, is the author of the critically acclaimed management book Employees First, Customers Second.
that employees are the clear differentiator in the value zone for helping
organizations grow faster and be more competitive. He further states that the
business of leaders and management is to enthuse, encourage, and enable
employees to continue creating this differentiating value for their customers.
already know the power of employee recognition. But not everyone is like Vineet
However, what all leaders want to know about recognition is four major points about the programs and practices that you are overseeing.
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.
organizations have a formal awards program that is their “best-of-the-best”
academy awards event. These formal award programs are truly the best
performance ranking, or earned award, such as the top salesperson, or they
are nomination based and selected by a judging committee.
selected jurors are previous award recipients because they know the standard
required to become an award winner.
does using previous award winners as jurors who are peers of potential
award candidates lead to bias in selecting winners?
All of us are
striving to help people in our organizations feel valued and appreciated for
their contributions and for who they are. We’re also tasked with showing
everyone how to give more effective and meaningful recognition face-to-face and
with using our online recognition programs.
And the only way
we know how well we are doing is by measuring the outputs of recognition
through our recognition programs and through employee perceptions on
recognition received through engagement surveys.
But is there
another way that you can refocus what you measure that will lead to more
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.