Top tips for linking recognition to an organisation’s values

employee values

Need to know:

  • Employers looking to link organisational values to employee recognition should ensure that each value can be demonstrated as part of a recognition scheme in order to engage employees with corporate objectives.
  • Values-based recognition should be delivered in the moment to have the greatest impact on employee behaviour.
  • Language used to describe an organisation’s values should steer clear of corporate jargon to help increase employee understanding of what the values mean and how they can be lived at work.

Recognition schemes can play a significant role in engaging employees. According to the 2016 Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) and Globoforce employee recognition survey: employee experience as a business driver report, published in December 2016, 90% of employers found a values-based recognition programme had a positive impact on employee engagement, and 71% saw a positive effect in terms of staff retention.

Julia Hanna, director and co-founder at Verditer Consulting, says: “Values are very much part of [an employee] as an individual, they don’t stop when [they] start or leave work, so aligning them [with recognition] will boost motivation, commitment and productivity. If people feel that the values that they hold and that the [organisation] holds are part of the same aspiration, it very much links in with people’s sense of purpose.”

So how can employers ensure their recognition approach is aligned to, and reflects, their organisational values in order to drive desired employee behaviours?

Award recognition for each value
First, employers should ensure that a recognition scheme allows employees to be recognised for showcasing each of the values in their day-to-day behaviour, says Debra Corey, group reward director at Reward Gateway. “The challenge when [employers] have a values-based recognition programme is that often [there is] that popular, easy value. It’s easier to see, so it’s easier to reward. [Employers] create values for reasons [and they] want everyone to engage with all the values.”

Employers can incorporate all of their values into a recognition programme by having an e-card for each value, for example, or annual or quarterly award categories that celebrate employees that have demonstrated each value. A leaderboard is a creative way to visually showcase which employees have been recognised for which values, while games that enable employees to receive recognition against each value and win prizes can help staff to identify how to incorporate the values into their daily working lives. A value of the month communications campaign can also be used, adds Corey.

Denise Willet, senior director at Achievers Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), says: “It is extremely important to take the values off the wall and put them in the hands of employees. When recognition is aligned with those values, then [employers] encourage those behaviours and reinforce them, and we believe that what gets recognised, gets repeated.”

Link recognition outcomes to specific values
Within a values-based recognition scheme, the outcome or reward should also be linked to each specific value to further emphasise to employees what they have been recognised for, says Hanna. For example, if an employee has been celebrated for creativity, they could be awarded with a trip to an art gallery, while an employee recognised for teamwork could receive a group experience or outing.

Avoid corporate jargon
The language used to describe an organisation’s values can sometimes resemble corporate jargon, for example words such as ‘integrity’ or ‘accountability’, which employees may find dry or difficult to relate to their day-to-day behaviour or job role. Instead, employers should look to use engaging and easy-to-understand statements that reflect the employer brand, for example: ‘we love what we do’. “It’s great to link [values] to recognition, but if people don’t understand what the values actually mean, the recognition will not be for the right behaviours or the right values,” says Corey.

Make recognition immediate
Values-based recognition is best delivered in the moment to ensure that everyday successes are celebrated as, and when, they happen, says Matt Norbury, chief executive officer at Epoints Employee, part of Instant Access Technologies (IAT). This allows employers to instantly thank staff for behaving in a manner aligned with the values, and reinforces the behaviour that the employer wants to promote.

However, employers should be careful when considering implementing a management approval process. These can be lengthy and delay the delivery of recognition, lessening the overall impact and value for employees. As Chris Andrew, client service director at Caburn Hope, says: “I’ve seen some very complicated recognition schemes in the past that require approval processes and by the time [the employer has] done it, [it has] missed the moment.”