Recognition Should Not Be Owned By HR

Something about the “human” in Human Resources has relegated recognition practices and programs to the HR department.

Oh, there are times recognition might fall under another section of HR. Perhaps compensation and benefits. However, they tend to focus more on the rewards side of things because of their responsibility for the total rewards package.

The pure (or poor!) HR folks typically get dumped with being responsible for all things employee recognition. Many people I know in the HR field are desperately trying to get away from being known as “the caterers”, “event planners”, and the “party-balloon-blow-up-people”.

HR truly wants recognition to become a strategic tool to help achieve their company’s business and people strategy objectives. And I think HR is becoming more aware of taking ownership for this recognition direction.

What Typically Happens

Many HR leaders, specialists and generalists, end up doing the routine things associated with employee recognition. There’s the onboarding of new employees and making sure they’re aware of everything there is to know about the company’s recognition programs. Often training of new supervisors and managers about recognition skills may fall under their banner, unless they have a full-fledged Learning & Development department. There is also the whole recognition program and products procurement, setting up and branding, managing, maintenance, communications and reporting around all the recognition programs.

But…it is not HR that gives recognition.

It is everyone else’s responsibility in the company to give recognition.

Recognition does not have to come from the top down, either. Recognition is not owned by a title or position…and not by a department! Every person in a company is an employee, so employee recognition should be multi-directional in its origin.

All employees can honor and give praise to their peers, which is a lateral direction. Each of us can express appreciation to a manager for things they have done that help us, making a bottom up direction. Of course, managers and supervisors can certainly acknowledge their direct reports for contributions they have made and that is the traditional top down approach.

HR does not give recognition.

 What HR Does Do

However, HR does provide the leadership around aligning recognition with the business strategy and how making it a part of the culture.

  • HR provides leaders with the knowledge and language to set the expectation for all employees to give recognition.
  • HR gives feedback to management with reports, engagement surveys and analytics on how effective everyone is at recognizing and engaging each other.
  • HR often manages budget allocation to provide the right people and necessary resources to create successful recognition.
  • HR organizes education and training needed for employees to know how to access and utilize recognition programs and the skills for giving positive feedback.
  • HR ensures equity in recognition practices and programs and that all laws and tax requirements are fulfilled.
  • HR makes sure business rules for recognition and rewards are followed and that the right things are being recognized or rewarded the right way.

Yes, HR is a big part of the recognition puzzle.

But HR does not own recognition.

Question: Who has ultimate responsibility for employee recognition where you work?

Roy is no longer writing new content for this site (he has retired!), but you can subscribe to Engage2Excel’s blog as Engage2Excel will be taking Roy’s place writing about similar topics on employee recognition and retention, leadership and strategy.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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