We’re currently living through a period of unparalleled change, and change is always difficult to manage. According to ChiefExecutive.net, the acronym VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) could be used to describe the last few decades, but it’s probably never been more relevant than at this current moment. To ensure your organisation successfully navigates these choppy waters, your employees will need to display motivation, agility and adaptability. But how do you go about achieving this?
A good place to start is by focusing on employee recognition. Recognition is the easiest way to develop these attributes in your workforce. Employees who are recognised are more inclined to both put in extra effort for your company and repeat desired patterns of behaviour.
Employee recognition best practice
Employee engagement is closely linked to employee recognition, so if you want to increase the former you’ll need to improve the latter. The good news is that this is easy to do, although it’s not as widespread as you’d imagine. Behavioral science offers plenty of evidence regarding the level and nature of recognition that works best at raising employee engagement, but less than half of employers listen to this advice. At Achievers, we recently worked with researchers at Brandon Hall Group to produce a report on the ‘Culture of Recognition’ which discovered that just 49 per cent of employers provide performance-based recognition, while an even smaller proportion strive to make that recognition frequent, timely and inclusive.
Let’s examine each of these facets of successful recognition programmes in more detail.
If you want to get the most out of employee recognition, ensure that it relates back to the individual’s job role and responsibilities. That way, you’ll be encouraging the employee’s desired behaviour which has a positive impact on your organisation and embodies your company values. Recognition that is only wheeled out for important milestones, like work anniversaries, is unlikely to persuade your workforce to go the extra mile in their daily activities. Avoid linking performance-based recognition to length of service and try instead to keep it tied to particular organisational objectives. And don’t forget to recognise outstanding work as often as possible to keep motivation levels high.
According to our report, companies who recognise their employees frequently (several times a month) point to a 34 per cent higher culture of recognition than their peers who are less inclined to offer frequent positive feedback. Positive Psychology also states that “reinforcers delivered often and with consistency are less likely to… lose their effect, particularly in the case of new skills.” Despite this, our report also discovered that just a quarter of organisations provide employee recognition on a frequent basis.
Timeliness and frequency are closely linked, but they’re not identical. Timely recognition is provided in real-time, as close to the action that it is praising as possible. Our report reveals that just 36 per cent of organisations offer timely recognition, meaning that the remainder wait too long to recognise and reward outstanding work. Research carried out by Cornell University found that giving employees an
immediate bonus while they performed a mundane job “led to an almost 20 percent increase in the percent of people sticking with the task …, compared with a delayed reward.”
For recognition to truly achieve its desired effect, it must be extended to every member of your business. Our report found that only 34 per cent of organisations surveyed satisfied this criteria. Establishing an inclusive culture of recognition involves leaving no one behind. You need to be prepared to praise and reward the high-quality work carried out by every site, business unit, team and employee within your company.
Extra guidance to bear in mind
Aside from the four important qualities already cited, allowing co-workers, and not just leaders, to express appreciation indicates that your employee recognition programme is really firing on all cylinders. Such appreciation could take the form of either extrinsic rewards, like gift cards, or intrinsic ones, for example, sincere praise. Frontiers in Psychology has found that “individuals can simultaneously experience extrinsic and intrinsic motivation for doing their work.” In addition, our report advises connecting recognition and rewards to opportunity: “Offering employees new experiences as part of recognition — online learning, team projects, job rotations, or whatever is most relevant — is an important link between recognition and performance.”
Click here to find out more about Achievers’ employee engagement platform.