5 common pitfalls of employee recognition and how to avoid them

Recognising and rewarding the performance of employees is vital for creating a positive company culture. Regular real-time feedback has been shown to have a great impact on employee motivation and productivity but there are still a number of common mistakes that businesses often make which can limit the effectiveness of workplace recognition schemes. Here are five of the most common errors that companies make and how to avoid these pitfalls yourself.

Adopting a “one size fits all” approach

Each person in your workplace is unique: they want different things, they have different personalities and they are motivated by different factors. Because of this, the recognition that you give to your employees should change depending on who you’re addressing.

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What works for one person may not work for another. For example, some people with feel a sense of pride & achievement when their hard work is recognised and applauded at a team meeting but for others, this would be mortifying. They would be much happier to simply receive a personal written message from their manager to let them know their efforts have been noticed. Likewise, for rewards, some employees would love to receive a £50 supermarket voucher as it helps them save on their weekly shop but for others, this would be wasted, as they would much rather receive something that suits their personal interests.

Each instance of recognition should be considered on a case-by-case basis to ensure that managers are rewarding employees in a way that they would want, providing them with motivation to repeat this behaviour. Although this constant re-evaluation of how recognition should be carried out takes more thought on the part of the manager, it certainly stops them from becoming “lazy” in their approach to recognition and falling into the trap of giving ineffective “copy and paste” recognition to each employee.

Expecting a recognition scheme to sustain itself alone after launch

You’ve implemented a new reward and recognition program into your business. You’ve made sure that everyone knows how it works and trained your management team on how to reward employees. The hard work’s done now, right? Not quite.

Many companies launch recognition schemes but fail to put in the upkeep effort required to keep them alive in the long-term. As recognition platform require buy-in from different stakeholders across your business, it’s important to make sure communication about the benefits of your reward scheme are maintained. These also serve as regular reminders to your staff to make sure they’re practicing recognition in the workplace as part of their everyday working lives.

We are often asking a lot of our employees and quite often they have so much on their plate that things can be easily missed or de-prioritised. This is where communication is required to keep company recognition at the forefront of their minds. Ensuring people are regularly reminded about the importance of recognition and encouraged to practice out such activities, it is less likely to be forgotten. Regular communication also emphasises the importance of the concept to your business – if you’re not treating recognition as if it’s a key part of your business’ way of working, your staff are unlikely to view it as important either.

Only rewarding based on hard targets such as sales performance

How do you measure performance within your team? If you work in a company where employees are given regular targets such as sales numbers or revenue, it can be tempting to just recognise employees who perform best against these set targets. However, the downside to this is that you could end up just rewarding the same people over and over again, leaving out many of your other employees who find it hard to get a look-in but who work hard and are deserving in other ways.

To ensure you’re not just recognising your high-flyers and are giving your other employees a chance, it is good to reward people for other achievements such as overcoming a task that they’ve been working towards or demonstrating some of your key company value or qualities. By being more creative with your recognition criteria, you open up a range of different ways that employees can earn your praise.

Recognising employees too late in the day

Recognition is all about timing – it will have most impact on your recipient when it is given as close as possible to the occurrence that you’re recognising them for. They may be feeling a sense of achievement and pride in themselves already but the recognition of others reinforces this feeling and makes them feel appreciated by their employer.

However, leave it too long and recognition will become less relevant and less motivating. It can even be confusing for your employees if the reason why they’re being rewarded is not clearly explained and they could even forget the details of what they did to gain your recognition if too much time has passed. As a result, it’s important that you keep recognition at the forefront of your mind. Keep an eye out for any “small wins” that your employees experience during their day and ensure that you respond to these promptly by showing your appreciation on the same day.

Only practising top-down recognition

It’s a common misconception that employee recognition and reward is a top-down activity where managers recognise the people that work for them. Although this is certainly a key focus, to ensure you create the most positive and engaging work environment, it’s important to encourage a general attitude of gratitude amongst your entire workforce.

By enabling and encouraging all your employees to practice employee-to-employee recognition, you give them the power to thank their fellow colleagues. For many recipients, this type of recognition can even be more powerful as it can be perceived as more considerate and heartfelt. The recipient know that the sender does not have a “duty” to monitor their performance but has gone out of their way to show their appreciation and gratitude.

To find out more about the Each Person employee recognition and reward scheme, visit www.eachperson.com.