How recognition schemes can help employers to foster good behaviours

What recognition schemes can employers use to foster good behaviours

Need to know: 

  • Recognising and rewarding staff can boost morale and engagement.
  • Peer-to-peer recognition schemes help to remove any sense of hierarchical structure.
  • Senior leadership teams that promote recognition can encourage employees to lead by example.

Employee recognition schemes are becoming ever-more important for employees to reach the best of their abilities at work, especially during such an uncertain time due to the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. With many employees either furloughed or working remotely, communication may be more limited than usual in some businesses. Employers need to find ways to reward those who are living by their business’ values.

Recognising and rewarding employees that foster the behaviours and values that an organisation deems important can encourage others to do so and boost staff morale. 

Different methods of recognition

Online recognition platforms can help an employer manage good behaviours and reward these accordingly. Iain Thomson, director of incentive and reward at Sodexo Engage, says: “Having a platform in place that encourages peer-to-peer recognition can boost team morale. Offering staff the opportunity to nominate their co-workers creates a sense of togetherness. This is particularly important right now as people might feel isolated from one another working from home.

“A scheme like this can also be used to record employees’ out-of-work achievements, for example, voluntary work or marathons. It’s important to recognise non-work accomplishments too, as this demonstrates that the business values and appreciates its employees as individuals.”

Although recognition platforms can be an effective tool in a people strategy, ingraining a culture where it is easy to reward people face-to-face can equally be a successful way to reward good behaviour and effort. A successful approach to recognition will include a culture that continually recognises employees that follow business values and demonstrate behaviours that help the organisation achieve its goals. 

Taking the time out of the day to thank someone for their efforts makes an individual feel like they are being seen and heard, says Lauren Goldgrub, general manager for recognition at Benefex: “When it comes to what is meaningful to employees, we can see clearly that businesses can’t just throw money their way. [Employees] need to feel appreciated and recognised.” 

It is important to remember that every employee is unique, therefore, a recognition scheme  should tailored accordingly, and give all employees the opportunity to demonstrate discretional effort. Having several types of recognition in place, including public, private and peer-to-peer, is crucial to foster good behaviours, says Maddie Pozlevic, employee experience lead at Perkbox: “The first way that we recommend businesses should reward good behaviours is through an awards ceremony. This is a business-wide recognition scheme that celebrates employees who have moved the needle. Secondly, a ‘one vision’ quarterly awards can celebrate one person from each department who has demonstrated a business’s values. 

“Finally, businesses can use a platform to give recognition virtually to each other and simply reward people with small things like a free lunch for their good work abiding by business values.

Inclusive and peer-to-peer recognition schemes help to remove any sense of hierarchical structure and give all employees the opportunity to be recognised for their efforts. 

Alexandra Powell, director of client culture at Reward Gateway, says: “Programmes that make employee recognition visible across the organisation so that employees can learn from the recognition, tend to fuel the most behaviour impact.” 

Effective recognition measures

So how can employers understand what methods are likely to be most effective for their workforce? Data and communication are key, says Goldgrub. “If an employer can’t track what’s going on and create a baseline, then it may miss what the golden formula is for recognition for its employees,” she says. “A recognition scheme can bubble up a lot of really powerful analytics that can inform how executive teams move forward.”

It is important that all employees are aware of the organisational values and behaviours so that they know how to get the best out of their roles. “The first step is to provide clarity and education on business values and strategic behaviours to make sure everyone understands these,” says Powell. “When a business aligns its communications and ongoing recognition to its values and behaviours, employees are more likely to understand what good looks like. 

Recognising those who are fostering good behaviour is difficult to measure and differs between organisations. However, being transparent about values can give employees a good benchmark to refer to. It is then about encouraging staff to give feedback on their peers and watch any patterns emerge in terms of who is consistently performing well.

“If managers want to use an employee recognition platform to measure good behaviour, they could consider something point-based,” says Powell. “If an employee gets a certain number of points, they’ll receive a reward. This will give employers the benefit of a figure to look at, which makes it clear where staff members are performing well or lagging behind.”

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are another way of measuring the success of a business and can help employees understand what to work towards, by setting a clear and concise goal.

Good behaviours should also be rewarded as frequently as possible to ensure that employees are feeling recognised. This can motivate others to follow suit. “It should be, at a bare minimum, weekly,” says Goldgrub. “We try to nudge managers and employees into doing so but the last thing a business wants to do is make it feel like an obligation.” 

Recognition from the top

Senior leadership is absolutely crucial when creating a recognition scheme. If business leaders promote objectives and lead by example, it is more likely to impact employees. “Ensure leaders and managers understand how important their visible participation is and educate them on ways to deliver strategic, timely recognition,” says Powell.

Aligning recognition programmes to business values and strategic behaviours is critical and can affect the impact of a scheme. Making recognition programmes social and visible across the whole organisation can help employees understand how fostering good behaviours can be rewarded. As Pozlevic says: “It’s also worth remembering that it takes time to create a habit, so [employers shouldn’t] be afraid to heavily promote the recognition scheme across the business at the beginning.

“Listening to employees is also crucial to implement a recognition scheme that is meaningful for business.”

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