Ruth Patel: Recognition strategy needs to create a positive feeling


Really forward-thinking employers understand where recognition sits in their overall people strategy. They think through the purpose of recognition and under what circumstances it will be most effective before determining the manner in which it will be delivered.

Understanding how employees turn their intentions into behaviour is essential to putting in place the best conditions for success.

Firstly, employers should consider the employee’s attitude towards the recognition programme. What is in it for them? How the employer communicates the purpose, criteria and benefits is key to ensuring a positive attitude to the programme.

Secondly, consider the impact the work group has on influencing employees’ attitudes. Are values espoused at senior management level throughout the organisation? This will be a reflection of organisational culture. If the recognition programme is seen as ’just another management idea that will lead to nothing’, the chances are that employees will not take it seriously.

Lastly, consider how easy it is for employees to take part in the programme. Do they fully understand the system, how it works and what their part is in it?

Our research shows that employees who have been recognised are 2.29 times more likely to recognise colleagues, so ongoing training and support is needed to encourage maximum take-up and repeated use.

A recognition programme that employees feel positively about, believe will lead to outcomes that are of benefit to them, is supported by the work group, reflects organisational culture, and is easy to administer and participate in, will have the best chance of success.

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Forward-thinking employers will use recognition programmes as part of a well-defined people strategy. These are a very effective way to show that the organisation lives by its values and will improve engagement.

Ruth Patel is business psychologist at Unlocking People Potential