Employee Recognition

Employee recognition means acknowledging hard work and accomplishments remains more than mere employee recognition or a nice thing to do.

Employee recognition defines as a communication tool which rewards and then reinforces the behaviors a manager wants to see in their workforce. Effectively stating what actions or behavior outcomes an owner wishes displayed creates the work culture for that environment.

For the employee, it gives them an understanding of how you would like them to contribute to their enterprise. For the public, it shows the brand’s style. Most employees do have the desire to become effective contributors at work. It helps reinforce the positive image of themselves, increases an employee’s self-worth, and lends support in a meaningful way. Doing so haphazardly may give good results in a workplace but not consistently and the group may not handle changes well.

Creating an effective employee recognition system consistently and powerfully reinforces positive behaviors and serves as a buffer against the work day’s inevitable negative events.

Finding an Employee Recognition System

An employee recognition system must have more to it than rewards and incentives. It needs simplicity, or a leader can become exhausted in dispensing it. It must balance intrinsic and extrinsic rewards well, or it will look too much like a bribery system and create fawning behaviors rather than good work habits. It must recognize important small behaviors while giving kudos to large accomplishments. Balancing that so that the two extremes become seen as equally important is an art. A preponderance of good small behaviors in a work environment nurtures the work culture so it can do the large accomplishments or weather a more negative period. It builds up resilience and endurance in a way that develops habits of persistence and delayed gratification. All of which makes for a positive work environment.

Of the two areas of recognition and reward, recognition of effort ranks higher and surprisingly does not take any money to do. It takes something more precious as in giving someone your time. Do not negate the impact of recognizing teams. Putting together a solid team that functions well is not a small accomplishment. Keeping a team working positively for long periods of time takes strategic thinking on how to keep relationships among the members friendly, cooperative, and collaborative. Do not disregard emotion in a workplace. Employee recognition remains a process of developing positive and appropriate emotional connections among the employees so they can work to their full potential. If it ties into the company’s values well so much the better. At the end of the day, employees should feel respected and valued.

The Most Important Tips for Effective Recognition

Good employee recognition systems do not just happen they become created. A good employee recognition system should continue even if personnel change out. One way to accomplish that begins with establishing criteria on what action in the workplace or contribution becomes rewardable behavior. The system must make all employees eligible for the recognition. Excluding an employee or a group of employees can become seen as harassment or discrimination.

The recognition system must have specifics on which actions and behaviors become rewardable or recognized. These criteria must become communicated to the entire organization. Presentation of the employee recognition system requires a clear design and good communication system. Anyone should be able to tell a new employee the criteria for eligibility for an award. Most employees should be able to attain the recognition or reward. It must have levels of recognition and reward to make it easy to give that but also to create an obtainable hierarchy in which if an employee becomes capable of getting a smaller reward they can use it to propel to one of the larger recognitions with confidence. Select from a pool of people who have shown the desired behavior and communicate that if not rewarded it did not mean they had been a problem. It should never be the same people all the time. Track who has received recognition and rewards. Notice if someone gets missed in the system, not because of poor behavior but just overlooked. It helps if the recognition happens near the recognized behavior otherwise it has less meaning.

Do not have managers give the rewards. It creates an opportunity for favoritism, puts undue pressure on managers and gives the appearance of promoting fawning. The time table needs a frequency closer to weekly or bi-weekly rather than monthly. Be specific in naming what behavior became liked and name it. Look at the value and mission statement of the company. Recognize which employees display that message. That creates a living core value system of what the business stands for. If someone does not want a recognition or reward do not force them or offer something that is not so public. Private individuals do like recognition but do not want a public display of it.

Create surveys so employees can state if they see improvements in the work environment. Elicit feedback from employees that includes suggestions for tweaking the system or even replacing parts of it. Explore using social software such as wikis, social media, or web conferencing to increase positive social interactions among the workforce.

A Working Example of Successful Recognition

A typical scenario of a good employee recognition system would look something like this. A set of criteria became established for giving recognition in the workplace. Employees received information on the programs and posters went up in the common areas. The criteria consisted of such activities as serving a customer without supervisor present, solving a problem with resources at hand or making assignments to a team so that they could be more effective. Near the end of the two-week period, positive activities of employees were discussed among management who turned in recommendations to their bosses. From this, a set of employees were chosen for recognition. The employees who met the standards received a personalize thank you note handwritten by the supervisor which spelled out exactly what was seen and instructions to go to a gift box in said room to draw a gift from a box it was concealed in. The gifts in the box listed s candy, gold dollar, gift cards and restaurant gift certificates. The employee draws a reward from the box with no supervisor present. The duplicated hand written thank you note goes into a larger drawing that hands out more substantial rewards such as a paid for trip or popular electronics. A third copy of the thank you note goes into the employee’s personnel file.

Additional Tips About Recognition and Performance Management

Remembering the work remains a process mostly, and a product or service sometimes helps in the development of program. Most often a good employee recognition programs identifies the components of that made a successful product or service. Performance development planning meetings list all the components it took to achieve that level, not the result itself.

After creating such a program developing consistency in the managers for applying the criteria remains a key component of making it successful. At some point, the owner or investors may want to do some organizational oversight to ensure the program creates the values of the mission statement. The element of surprise in doing so randomly displays vigilance on the part of the management in a positive way rather than setting up traps to catch someone doing an infarction.

As time goes by with individuals and teams consistently successful the problem becomes the reward equally becomes routine and no longer an award but has moved to entitlement. Adapting the program for higher levels of success becomes helping individuals set individual goals and achieving those. If a weakness becomes found instead of discipline consider a training by a third party then set criteria for the team or individual to become recognized for accomplishing that set of criteria. This creates a solution where everyone benefits and build morale. Or choose a concentration area in a particular part of the work cycle that needs performance improvement.

The Employee Recognition Traps

Employee recognition programs can fail spectacularly if not handled well or managed well. Mysteriously selecting someone for recognition gives the appearance of favoritism. It causes disbelief in the criteria, and the program becomes useless. Influencing the votes will ruin the program. If the program becomes routine and expected, it will no longer work. Possibly basing it on data from products and services should keep it fresh since consumers needs and wants change plus new processes come along. This keeps employees willing to learn and moves it to a continuous improvement model.

When and Why Should Recognition and Rewards Be Linked

Listening to the constant barrage of negativity on the media shows our culture looks more for what is wrong rather than pointing out what works. In court situations, the negative behavior does get pointed out and backed by evidence but so does positive behavior with evidence to support it as well. The Supreme Court in its decisions and dissensions does the same. Justice has a set of scales that can become balanced. Use that idea in the workplace since failure to do so will be the criteria a workplace culture will become judged by. Toxic work environments by law can be sued as policies line out in employee handbooks. Employee recognition programs show an intentional act on the part of the owner and management to create positive work environments. Achievement does not have to be extraordinary to become recognized. It must be well done and consistent. On especially difficult tasks recognizing the effort, it took to correct a path or to make progress sometimes means more to a person than one that had an easy ascent. Reward and praise for a job well done go hand in hand. Most employees leave good positions because of the lack of recognition of jobs well done rather than the money.

The experience of working counts as much as receiving the money of working. Research from Bersin through Deloitte found organizations with recognition programs which are highly effective at improving employee interaction have a 31 percent lower turnover (voluntary). Tying recognition to company value statements according to Society for Human Resource Management creates strategic recognition which results in an employee turnover rate 23.4% lower than retention at companies that have no recognition program. Many more such research studies prove the point. Training new employees remains a costly endeavor. At the least keeping good employees in a company lets the company use the money for other areas. Expertise developed in a position takes time and saves a company money. Praising employees in a specific individual manner makes it sincere.

Implement Peer-to-Peer Recognition

As positive reinforcement for work well done becomes the norm employees begin to give peers positive recognition. In most cases, it has a sincerity. Employees get recognized for their talents in areas and become the “go to” person for that on a project. Peers appreciate it. Owners and managers need to make sure everyone has something they become the “go to “person on though or good employees get over worked. Creating fake gratitude environments develops into just as toxic work environments as negative ones and has been the downfall of many companies. Fake gratitude creates a web of lies about people, products, and procedures.

Rewards need to be specific to the employees in a work area and to that industry. Generate a list and take suggestions from employees along with other models. Create a set of criteria for the employee recognition program and then follow up to see if it works. Hire third party vendors in the field such as the Flippen Group to give an assessment of the workforce motivations and climate.

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