We all want a successful recognition programme in place. After all, the aims of any reward and recognition programme are all about benefits. Benefits to employees, your business, even employee acquisition and retention.
However, the sad fact is that some recognition programmes just don’t work. The results you’re looking for don’t come. If you’ve launched an employee recognition scheme without success, don’t lose heart – just change your tactics.
Recognition schemes tend to perpetuate a number of common mistakes. See if you can spot yourself on this list.
You don’t consult employees
Employees are at the heart of your business, so it makes sense that when you recognise them, you are giving them what they actually want as opposed to what you think they need. It isn’t just about the recognition on offer, but also about how you reward.
If your current plans include a big song and dance and company presentation, you may have your introverts hiding under the table to avoid something that makes them squirm.
If you decide to reward top performers with an annual exotic break, single parents and carers are probably sighing in exasperation.
Consulting employees with a survey, or getting to grips with what gets them going face-to-face, is the only way to get a real understanding of what your employees want. You might even be surprised that it’s predominantly verbal recognition and respect that resonates most with your teams.
Then, when you’re putting your recognition plans together, make sure you carefully consider what your employees have told you and plan accordingly.
Your communication is too sparse
We know that communicating recognition often feels low priority, but every business gets busy. If you have a recognition and reward programme in place, there can never be too much communication around it.
Tell your new employees. Remind your current employees. Shout about the winners and highly commended team members in your newsletters, meetings and noticeboards, even on social media.
A recognition programme ceases to be relevant when it’s not top of mind. Keep it fresh and breathe life into it – harness your marketing team to get it alive and kicking once again. Making it a priority is essential for your managers as well and now is the time to reiterate why recognition is so vital to your business.
You rely on manual intervention
We mentioned that your business is busy, but if you rely on manual work to keep your recognition programme going, it’s always going to fail in some way unless you are hyper-vigilant. Technology is the answer.
Recognition platforms are available to help you reward and recognise employees and improve the morale in your company.
Technology allows you to take a step back and introduce employee-led elements into the programme, whether that’s a peer-to-peer mechanic, leader boards, real-time engagement or the ability to self-select rewards. Technology can simplify employee recognition and make it more effective.
Remember that when it comes to recognising employees, the whole point is to ensure that employees are in the spotlight for the work that they do. Make sure that they receive valuable recognition and rewards in a way that works for them, and you’ll find your employees are more productive, happier and even healthier, resulting in sustained business success.
About the author:
Elaine Keep is the owner and director of Incentive & Motivation, among the longest standing titles in the employee and customer reward space catering to HR pros. Elaine is also the founder of Your Marketing Managed, offering marketing management, content production and copy writing services.
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If you need Social recognition explained, this is the blog for you. We have all you need to get to grips with questions like:
Does this form of social recognition really work?
How can you integrate social recognition into your employee value proposition successfully?
Social recognition schemes are a great way to motivate and engage your team, but they need to be implemented correctly – using the right platform and structure – to get the best results. Here’s my advice on how to get social recognition right, so you can reap the rewards that come from a satisfied, productive and engaged team.
I’ve seen some great results from various social recognition methods applied across a wide range of businesses, but while social recognition isn’t brand new, it is a new concept for many brands.
While different employees will be motivated by different things, recognition is something that everyone thrives on – but it often comes from the top down. Managerial recognition certainly has its place but appreciation between colleagues, acknowledged on an internal community platform, has some pretty impressive benefits.
With social recognition schemes there’s no siloed or hierarchical dynamic, so literally anybody in any department and at any level can recognise any other team member. Any thanks for a job well done or for a valuable contribution of help or support is posted on a central platform that all employees have access to; so rather than a cursory “thanks” over the desk between two people, everyone can experience that warm glow of shared gratitude.
10 Benefits of a social recognition platform
I could list dozens of reasons why it’s worth using social recognition in your workplace and why praise from peers is vital, but I’ve whittled it down to my top ten:
1. Builds relationships, trust and engagement
A recent study has shown that disengaged employees cost US companies between $450 and $550 billion annually, which is a pretty persuasive argument for driving employee engagement, right? Social recognition helps to build trust in the company and across teams, and the added power of a social platform helps to create even stronger employee relationships too. Everyone performs better when they know their comrades have got their back, and this sense of team spirit creates a happier and healthier working environment.
2. On-the-ground insight
Social recognition solves two problems that other methods can’t: achievements and commitments aren’t missed by managers who are often not present, while they also get to collate crucial insight on performance on an ongoing basis via a visible platform.
3. Better employee retention and job satisfaction
Statistics and studies consistently show that happy, recognised employees are more likely to stay put. They’re more productive, take less sick leave and achieve significantly higher sales figures – and the ability to boost your colleagues’ morale through social recognition gives them even more reasons to stay.
4. Recognition regardless of role
With some recognition schemes, the same staff get the kudos over and over again. With a platform driven by peers, the playing field is evened out, with employees having an easy way to reward staff from less ‘active’ departments, where recognition isn’t based on specific skills, roles or outcomes, such as sales.
5. Perpetual positive feedback
The feedback loop can often be pretty closed and predictable, disengaging employees over time. With a social recognition platform, praise can be given at any time, so there’s a continual circulation of inclusive positivity, with a nice surprise potentially around the corner every day.
6. Improved productivity
In a culture built around appreciation, staff are more engaged and motivated to perform to their best abilities. A Gallup report shows that highly engaged teams are 21% more profitable – and profit is driven by productivity.
7. Building a strong employer reputation
Companies that regularly reward staff with praise are themselves rewarded, through their employees ‘paying it forward’. When staff feel valued, they’re much more likely to recommend their employer as a good business to work for, which can bring better candidates to your door when recruiting.
8. Happier customers
Treat people how you like to be treated is an old saying with retained relevance. Similarly, if people are treated well at work through positive reinforcement, they will treat your customers better too. In fact, 41% of companies with social recognition schemes in place have found customer satisfaction rates have improved as a result.
9. Reinforces company values
I’ve seen hundreds of websites with company values, ethics and culture outlined, but how many actually live and breathe this stuff?! Visible rewards for displaying good work ethics and behaviours, and reinforcing and celebrating the culture of your business will keep them at the forefront of your employee’s minds.
10. Improved employee wellbeing
Regular praise from colleagues adds up to an enhanced sense of employee wellbeing. Where staff are thanked and feel their work valued, they experience less work-related stress and feel more positive. And with happier staff many more of the above benefits are brought to life – it’s a perfect circle!
Choosing the right social recognition system
So I think I’ve made a pretty compelling case for – and established why – a social recognition is vital for your business. But how do you select and set up the right system?
Choosing the right social recognition platform is essentially the same as investing in any other piece of business software. You need to consider:
The size of your business
How much set-up and ongoing support you need
Features and functionality
Integration with other software systems
Ease of use
I’m going to look into each one of these in a little more detail to help guide you towards the best social recognition software for your needs…
How many staff do you want to include on your system? Are you opening it up to all employees, including casual or part-time workers? Do you have multiple sites? And if so, do you want to link them all to the same platform?
You need to make sure that any recognition software is able to accommodate for your staff numbers – and that it’s scalable if you intend to grow your business.
The above, of course, will have an impact on your budget, as most social recognition platforms will charge per employee, with a sliding scale to balance numbers with price-per-head.
While it’s obviously a cost to your business, I think it’s worth reiterating that with the improvements to productivity, retention rates, wellbeing and absence levels – not to mention the bottom line value of these things combined – implementing an online recognition system, usually pays for itself… and then some.
If you want to take your recognition a step further, most software will allow you to set a budget for tangible rewards that go above and beyond praise alone. So you can assign each employee or manager with a set amount that they can use to send gifts/rewards to their colleagues each month – completely at their discretion.
Set-up and support
Some social recognition software can be accessed via the internet, but there are other things to consider in terms of set up. While you may have an IT team in-house, it often makes more sense to use the software provider for initial set-up and ongoing support.
The software will need configuring to your own objectives, company values and branding, with customisation across themes, rewards and communications. You’ll also need to think about security and integration with other software you use (more on that later).
You may also want your provider to run you through a demo, so you can familiarise yourself with the dashboard and functionality – and ongoing support will give you direct access to professionals with the right knowledge to help you get the most out of the system, and adjust it to ensure you’re hitting your KPIs.
Features and functions
Seems obvious, but you really do need a vision of what your ideal social recognition software can do. Do you want a public message board as well as direct messages and threads? Do you want to offer rewards – and if so, what type?
It’s also important to find out how any potential system collects and calculates data. What kind of analytics and reports would help you to measure and improve value and performance? What details do you want to be able to access to help with other business insight and decisions?
Integration with existing tools
Already use software to keep staff connected such as Slack or other project management and communication tools? Do you have an HR system that would benefit from the additional data that a social recognition system can provide?
Good software will be built with integration in mind. This should be pretty quick and easy to do, and your provider should be able to help you integrate your systems successfully from the start.
You need to ensure your chosen recognition system is easy to use. The more familiar it is to people the better. If it’s complex or confusing to learn and use, you’ll find it harder to engage your employees and keep them active.
Setting up a social recognition scheme that consolidates your company culture
Social recognition works as a two-way street when it comes to your company’s culture and values. The benefits I explored earlier all help to shore up your culture and keep it visible, while the interaction and positivity shared by colleagues ensure they perpetuate it and contribute to it on a regular basis – making it even stronger.
What do I mean by this?
Creating a strong company culture ultimately balances on your employees’ happiness at work. If your staff actively enjoy their jobs and the environment they work in, they’ll be more proactive, engaged, productive, communicative and supported. Stress levels reduce, atmosphere improves and both individuals and the company as a whole benefit.
In turn, if your company gains a reputation for being an employer with a strong internal culture, staff stay longer and you’re more likely to have a better recruitment pool to choose from – everyone wants to work somewhere where they know they’ll be appreciated.
Nurturing a culture based on appreciation and recognition helps everyone to maintain a positive attitude and reminds employees of the company goals – and keeps them working towards them.
While manager-led recognition has lots of value in these terms, social recognition can be much more tangible: it presents a more even playing-field while also ensuring that praise is given from those who understand the actual day-to-day contributions of individual workers.
So in a nutshell, a social recognition scheme will help promote a more positive work culture by:
Instilling a tradition of appreciation
Improving relationships and teamwork
Ensuring happier, more productive workers
Social recognition made simple for any business
Our social recognition platform makes it simple for your business to enjoy the benefits of social recognition on an accessible, cost-effective system.
Social recognition – a snapshot of how systems typically work
Social recognition software works differently depending on the system, but essentially, your platform will work something like this:
Search for the colleague you want to recognise.
Explain what you’re recognising them for, copy in any employees or managers who you think should be made aware of their achievement and assign a company value or key behaviour from the pre-set options.
Select the type of reward (if applicable) e.g. an extra tea break, a free car wash or a gift card – or simply pile on the public praise.
The recipient is notified by email, along with any other colleagues you’ve included, plus managers or colleagues defined in the recognition hierarchy.
Social celebrations – some systems will have a ‘wall of fame’ or similar function, so that appreciation is automatically displayed for all to see.
Certificates – you’ll also usually have an option to print out a recognition certificate for the recipient to keep and display.
How to successfully launch a social recognition scheme
To get the best from your social recognition system, you need to make sure everyone’s onboard. But how do you ensure a successful launch?
Here are my top ten tips for launching your social recognition scheme:
1. Get employees involved
It’s never too early to engage! Make sure your employees are part of the process, asking for their input on name, branding and rewards. If they feel part of things from the start, they’re more likely to dive in with enthusiasm upon launch.
2. Define objectives and criteria
As an extension of the above, make sure that you get input regarding the goals of the programme, and that they are aligned with your overall culture. By allowing everyone a say regarding what kind of things should be recognised and rewarded, people feel empowered by being involved in decision making. It also encourages conversation and communication, creating a ‘buzz’ around the launch.
3. Make it human
Stuffy comms have no place in social recognition, whatever your corporate tone of voice may be. Make sure you build your scheme around natural, friendly and ‘human’ communications. Save the boring business speak for, you know, actual business.
4. Personalise if possible
When you’re setting up your social recognition software, there may be several opportunities for personalisation – take advantage of it! Apart from using your official branding, you may be able to add photos or profile images. If so, try to avoid stock photos and instead opt for real pictures from your business and or ask staff to design their own avatar.
5. Get your leaders in-line
Some pre-launch training so that managers can make the most of the system is essential, and by getting them onboard early, they’ll be primed to promote the programme effectively and enthusiastically when it comes to kick-off.
6. Keep everyone informed
Don’t wait until a week before launch to start building up that ‘buzz’ – create a countdown and send out regular internal communications to evoke a sense of anticipation. Focus on a different benefit each time to ramp up the excitement levels.
7. Consider different media
A video message from your CEO or other leaders can be a great way to introduce and communicate the concept in an engaging way – and shows that those higher up feel you deserve to be recognised for your efforts. Your smartphone will do the job if it’s only being circulated internally, and will show that the scheme has support throughout the business hierarchy. Don’t forget field-based staff that may not have ready access to a laptop. These employees will need additional communications in the form of physical handouts, face-to-face briefings and roadshows.
8. Create a fantastic launch event
If your business operates from a single site, you can arrange an informal meeting over tea ‘n’ biscuits or plan an actual dedicated event to celebrate the launch of the new system… but make it IMPACTFUL! If you have multiple sites, you can send out a goodie-pack with information and a small treat. Get some posters up, offer an extra tea break for launch-day adopters or come up with any suitably appropriate approach to get everyone excited and onboard from the offset.
Keeping everyone engaged – how to maintain momentum in social recognition
A successful launch of any recognition programme doesn’t mean that enthusiasm will continue – never take anything for granted.
A well implemented and delivered social recognition scheme will benefit your business for sure, but you need to keep up interest for it to consistently deliver. To help you do this, I recommend:
Keep talking, keep teaching
Make sure conversations around the platform keep happening and use them as a feedback loop and inspiration for improvements. Send out reminders and offer training to help people get to grips with the software.
Share the love
For employees who are less engaged, it’s a good idea to share the appreciation shown on the system in other ways for added visibility. If you have screens or physical message boards, display some of the praise and programme benefits periodically to maintain and encourage uptake.
Send out surveys
A pre-launch survey will help you to gather everyone’s input on the programme and gauge initial interest – but follow this up with a survey six months post-launch to see what’s working, what’s not and how employees feel about the scheme.
Over-saturation of the same thing, will, in time, start to disengage people, so do what you can to keep things fresh. Talk to your provider about mixing up rewards every so often to incentivise re-engagement and participation. You can also create fresh communications and update the software in other ways to keep energy and excitement levels up.
Don’t go overboard with every piece of functionality possible from day 1. Hold something back for launch later in the year. Add additional modules in bite-sized chunks over the course of the year. This will give you a reason to reach out to users and provide continual drivers to pull employees back into the platform.
Your scheme will need representation from ‘in the trenches’ to succeed. Empower a group of stakeholders that aren’t in senior leadership positions to push activity ‘on the ground’. These programme ambassadors will act as your eyes and ears, constantly striving to rally the troops and engage them in the process of giving heartfelt and meaningful thanks.
Keep executive interest
Use your reports and analysis to demonstrate effectiveness and ROI to business leaders. This will ensure they stay engaged and supportive of the programme – they may even ‘up’ the reward budget if the numbers add up, which in turn will increase employee interest and activity.
Using social recognition software to boost your business
Implemented correctly, social recognition software can add genuine, tangible value to your business by improving employee happiness and relationships, which will boost performance and productivity.
It’s pretty clear that social recognition schemes have the potential to add real value to your business in lots of way, so what are you waiting for?
Book a demo of our social recognition platform
Read more about our social recognition platform, and book a live demo with one of our engagement and recognition specialists.
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The leaders in your company must understand the value an employee recognition scheme brings and how it impacts on overall business success. Any business that values its employees and wants them to stay needs to understand that regularly showing appreciation is a key driver of engagement and retention.
Having constant flow of employee recognition is vital to productivity, engagement, morale and retention. You’re doomed if you ignore it while your competitors embrace it.
This blog gives covers the fundamentals of what everyone, from middle management to CEOs, needs to know about employee recognition.
What’s covered in this article:
1. What employee recognition is 2. Why employee recognition matters (the business case) 3. When to recognise your employees, and for what 4. How to recognise staff 5. Getting started on employee recognition
What is employee recognition?
By definition, employee recognition is:
“Communication that seeks to highlight or celebrate achievements, with the intent of reinforcing behaviour and building positive habits.”
That’s a very staid and plain way of describing recognition, however accurate it is.
When you recognise employees, you’re highlighting positive behaviour. Behaviour you want to see repeated and celebrated. We’ll go into details on what you might want to highlight later.
But for now, you can see from that definition that recognition has always existed. It was there every time someone said “good job.”
It just hasn’t always been understood or embraced as a tool for your business.
Peer-to-peer and social recognition are different
Traditional recognition schemes tend to focus heavily on top-down recognition.
Managers recognise employees and senior leaders recognise managers in turn. There’s nothing outright wrong with that, managers should recognise staff for their work. It’s just so constrictive. Peer-to-peer and social recognition put the hierarchy aside and let anyone recognise anyone.
Giving employees the chance to recognise anyone across the business is empowering. It offers them a voice, and an opportunity to talk about what’s important to them in the workplace.
How recognition and rewards interact
Your recognition efforts aren’t inherently separate from your rewards. But they’re not really the same thing, either.
We have a good longer read on everything you need to know about rewards here if you want to read up.
To summarise in a hurry: they’re connected, but separate. Recognition doesn’t have to involve any kind of cash-value reward, but rewards are inherently a form of recognition when they’re the result of behaviour at work.
Pay isn’t the same as employee recognition, by the way
Despite what the more curmudgeonly business leaders think.
Pay is a transaction. It’s cold. It’s also something employees fast become accustomed to. That’s why cash is so questionable as a reward. Our blog goes into more detail on that here.
The emotions you’re trying to create with recognition shouldn’t be associated with being paid on time. You and your employee have already agreed about what their work is worth. Recognition, and reward, are always in addition to being paid.
Why employee recognition matters
Employee recognition is more than just a feel-good exercise. Even though it does feel good. It’s a valuable tool for your business.
Companies that embrace recognition, and take the spirit of recognition the right way, see genuine benefits to their business.
The tangible outcome of embracing recognition is more motivated, productive and loyal employees.
No one wants to feel like their achievements aren’t valued or noticed. When staff feel unappreciated or ignored, they lose heart. It’s only a natural reaction.
By pointing out and highlighting achievements, we make sure people know they’re valuable.
This makes employees feel good about their work and their place at your company. Their morale will improve, improving the mood of the employees around them.
Receiving employee recognition, whether from peers or managers, is validating.
If you’re feeling a bit more callous, you might say to yourself: “Why do I care about employees being happy as long as they get the job done?”
Simple answer: happy employees do more work. They also do better work, they’re easier to collaborate with, and their happiness rubs off on other staff.
Feeling unappreciated is one of the biggest reasons employees cite when they leave a company. And recognition is a proven pathway to make employees feel more valued.
As we talked about in one of our longer read blogs, retention costs companies thousands of pounds a year. It costs as much as £30,000 to replace a skilled employee once recruitment, training and productivity dips have been accounted for.
There’s no real room for argument here. Not when your company can start recognising employees for free, and it could save you tens of thousands a year.
How employee recognition affects your company culture
When you embrace employee recognition, it becomes a feedback loop for your company culture.
What you recognise is by default what you treasure and want to promote about your workplace.
You’re signalling that to staff when you recognise them. It’s only natural human behaviour to seek out validation, and to seek to replicate behaviour that results in positive reactions.
Your leadership need to understand this
The link between recognition and culture is why it’s so important leadership understands their role in recognition.
They’re building a company culture, for better or worse. Whether or not they even know they’re doing it.
What your leadership recognise and reward is a way of telling staff how to behave. Regardless of whether your employee handbook says otherwise.
It’s essentially your staff getting invested in your company purpose and values. That investment influences their behaviour at work.
Employee recognition has a positive effect on engagement. As long as you get it right.
For many companies, embracing recognition is an extension of their company culture. Seeking and highlighting the value other colleagues bring to the company is a part of how they work.
For other companies, the recognition is what makes the values in your company come to life. By asking employees to express the company values when recognising employees, those ideals are kept alive in the workplace.
This makes it easier for staff to identify and invest in what your company stands for, improving their engagement with your business.
Where’s the proof?
We don’t advocate for the benefits of recognition for no reason. There’s plenty of evidence to show that recognition generates real improvements in your company. As long as you execute it properly.
When there are measurable, tangible benefits to employee recognition, you sort of have to be mad to refuse to take it seriously.
97% of public sector managers agree recognition improves morale, and 98% of managers agree recognition improves a sense of belonging
55% of employees say they would move for a company that clearly recognises its employee contributions , and recognition rich environments have a 31% lower turnover rate. 
Happy employees are, on average, 12% more productive, and and strategic peer-to-peer recognition improves productivity by 32%. 
Employee engagement increases by 61% when employee recognition programs are offered , and a 15% uplift in engagement correlates with a 2% uplift in operating margin. 
When to recognise employees, and for what
Employee recognition isn’t a magic staff happiness button. You can’t dish out recognition for everything and anything and expect to see the benefits in line. Pick your moments.
It might cross your mind that we talked about social and peer-to-peer recognition earlier. When your company puts the power to recognise in your employees’ hands, you have to give up a bit of control.
That’s no bad thing, staff need that freedom to feel in control. And you can keep the recognition on track with your social recognition platform – just ask staff to match all their recognition up to one of your company values.
Picking the right time to recognise staff
Choosing the right time to recognise – Use a similar checklist to our when to reward section but make some changes.
Much like rewards, it’s handy to have a little mental checklist. When you’re thinking about employee recognition, especially as a manager, think about:
Values – Ask yourself whether what you want to recognise is part of your company values.
Notable – Making a coffee, or completing standard job tasks isn’t notable. For recognition to be effective it has to highlight behaviour both the employee and management would acknowledge as notable.
Timely – Millennials especially feel the need to see quick recognition for the best work. But it doesn’t matter what generation your staff belong to, being close to the event is helpful.
Positive – Remember what we said about what you recognise becomes what you see in the workplace. Only recognise employees for behaviour you would want the public to see.
Repeatable – This harks back to what we said about recognition being about generating positive behaviour. If you want to see certain behaviours more often, it helps if what you recognise is repeatable. If not the actual task itself, then the spirit of the achievement.
Employee recognition suggestions
Take a look at these ideas as a starting point. Every business is different, so please don’t feel like you should be constrained by these suggestions.
Employee achievements – Put employee accomplishments in the spotlight and show they’re valued.
Longevity – The longer your staff stay, the more valuable they are. And the more important it is to keep them around. Recognise their longevity milestones to make it clear.
Good ideas – Improving processes, products or services with creativity or knowledge.
Problem prevention – Spotting a roadblock and prevent a crisis could save you huge amounts of hours and money fixing a problem.
Project delivery – Making sure vital projects go live on time.
Working on initiative – Acting on good ideas when the chance comes along and turning them into something workable and valuable to the business.
Helping colleagues – Offering time and care to help colleagues hit deadlines, or help other departments deliver projects.
Going above and beyond – Employees who go outside their job role and take responsibility for projects or ideas.
Putting values first – Finding ethical solutions to problems requires ingenuity and skill. That often merits recognition.
Hero of the month – Focus on your stand-out performer of the month. And, as we suggested in another blog, consider democratising that process and letting your staff have a say.
Milestones – Recognise your teams and employees when they bring you closer to organisational goals.
And many more possibilities – Without a crystal ball, we can’t look into your company and tell you what matters most in your workplace. Your values and your day-to-day needs will tell you that.
Focus on outcomes
The most effective employee recognition will focus on tangible outcomes.
Differences and improvements employees, and their colleagues, will recognise in the workplace.
By staying in the visible spectrum, so to speak, what you recognise is always easy to understand.
And it’s easy for employees to latch on to what’s important and encouraged in your business.
How to recognise your employees
Employee recognition channels
In broad terms, you have three avenues to recognise employees; verbal, physical and digital. For example:
Verbal recognition would include face-to-face talks, or vocally celebrating someone’s achievement in a huddle or department meeting.
Digital recognition would include highlighting achievements on your social media or your website. It would also cover using a recognition platform or an online wall of fame. You might also choose to send out emails to celebrate staff achievements.
Physical recognition uses items to create trophies. That might include literal trophies, but you don’t have to stop there. It also includes recognition letters, handwritten notes, certificates and placards.
Mix and match your approach
The best employee recognition schemes don’t just stick to one way of communicating. There are benefits and limitations to every approach, so it’s best to mix and match.
Verbal recognition is personal, immediate and emotional. But it’s fleeting. A digital recognition is more permanent, but needs a public element to influence other staff.
Trophies and plaques are nice mementos, but need an accompanying personal message for proper context.
Be funkier if you can
Get creative if your company culture and environment let you. Like we’ve said a few times already on this blog, if you get the basics right you can be as creative as you like.
Work the flavour and personality of your team and company culture into your employee recognition scheme.
Some companies hand out custom Lego miniatures. Others use stickers on the back of chairs, or a Wall of Fame on the wall of the office. You’re only limited by your imagination the boundaries of your company culture.
Platforms make employee recognition easy to manage
Using an employee recognition platform simplifies issuing, tracking and managing employee recognition.
Issuing recognition over a platform is versatile. You’re no longer bound by the need to be in the same room as the person receiving recognition. Email makes a nice alternative, but you forgo the benefits of recognition being public: a central, digital, visible place to recognise employees.
Tracking and learning
Platforms offer you a top-down view of employee recognition. You can see who receives recognition. And what they’re recognised for. This gives you valuable insight on how your company interacts. When recognition is quiet, or private, there’s no opportunity to use it as a business learning tool.
Often, recognition in between employees is private. Delivered through emails or verbal. In turn, it’s fleeting. When recognition goes public, managers can see it. There are two benefits to that. First, senior leadership can see the virtues and achievements of teams they don’t always get to interact with. Second, they can measure it and better understand the business.
While verbal recognition is personal and real, it makes it harder to incorporate values. Your staff live your values, they don’t generally sit around talking about them. A digital record lets you frame recognition in your values without being stilted or coming off awkward in a conversation.
It’s much easier to integrate rewards into your employee recognition with a platform. Many recognition platforms have reward options built-in, or have simple reward plug-ins. That makes it easy to top recognition off with a reward.
For more on the advantages of using a platform, read more on our Shout! employee recognition product page.
Or, if you’re shopping around, you can read our blog on how to pick quality employee recognition software.
How to get an employee recognition scheme off the ground
You could introduce an effective employee recognition platform with just the time it takes to plan and implement it.
Make sure you have a clear idea of what your company culture is about, and the behaviours and values you want to see reflected.
This will form the basis of which behaviours you want to recognise later on.
Your company’s leadership need to understand and buy into your values, and the concept of employee recognition.
This is important – the success of new ideas depends on buy-in for two reasons.
First, your senior leaders must believe it’s necessary, and must agree to put the resources aside to achieve it. Second, your middle management must have the motivation, and the breathing room, to execute the new idea.
Get a clear idea of what should merit recognition in your business. This will be based on the details of how your company works, and what achievement looks like in your company. Then communicate this decision to your management teams.
Tell your employees what to expect
Tell your staff about employee recognition. Explain why you’re taking employee recognition more seriously, and what kind of changes they can expect to see.
Name your scheme or concept
Give your employee recognition efforts a name. By giving it an internal identity, something that reflects your employees’ personality and culture, you make it easy to remember and become attached to.
Measure and reflect
Use an anonymous survey ahead of time to gauge how your employees feel. Ask about the areas you’d like to see influenced by an employee recognition scheme.
Ask your managers to keep track of what recognition they’re issuing, and when (assuming you don’t have a platform to manage this for you).
After enough time, ask your staff’s opinion again with another survey. A year would be enough time to get a feeling of your success.
However, you might want to use pulse surveys at shorter intervals for top-ups.
Good today, perfect tomorrow
Start with something simple, repeatable and effective. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to make something completely perfect before getting started.
Over time you can implement platforms, rewards, social recognition and more. But the benefits of embracing employee recognition are available regardless of whether or not you have a formalised piece of software.
Easy to learn, difficult to master
Once you have your head wrapped around the concept of recognition, it’s easy to get started. But like many worthwhile things, it’s easier to get started than it is to master.
Platforms, as we discussed earlier, are a great way to gain an understanding of how recognition is affecting your company. But you need the expertise and time inside your company to measure and understand what you’re getting out of them.
Take us as an example of employee recognition in action
Park Group, our parent company, has a company culture informed by four ideas. We call it our Trademark Behaviour. We always aim to be:
Collaborative – We value each other and we work together as colleagues, clients and partners so that we exceed our goals effectively.
Respectful – We appreciate the contribution and opinion of others; when we act with respect we optimise everything.
Empathetic – We are human and we value everyone.
Dynamic – We are curious about the world; we are passionate about agility and we love what we do.
We see our colleagues put these values into motion every day. How we treat each other, how we treat clients, and how we approach our work reflects those values. Leadership figures understand the need for recognition, and all of our colleagues are empowered to deliver it.
Recognition at Park and Appreciate is expressed over a variety of channels. We see verbal recognition straight after tasks, we see written recognition in notes and emails, we see recognition in our meetings and we see it in our internal communications.
Notably, you can also see it on our shared social recognition platform. By using a blend of techniques, we can see employees across department, divisions and sites receive recognition for their work.
Talk to us about your employee recognition scheme
Our Engagement Services team are experts in helping businesses deliver effective employee recognition schemes and platforms.
If you’re not sure how to get started with yours, or want to talk about using some effective recognition software, get in touch. Send us an email, use the web chat on this page, or call the number at the top and bottom of this page.
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Your employees’ engagement is important enough to justify priority on that level. You might feel a little bit overwhelmed by the providers, features and modules competing for your affection.
That’s no cause for panic. Refer to our checklist when you’re comparing and contrasting the field.
12 tips to pick the right employee recognition software
By credibility, we mean demonstrating a wider understanding of recognition and the role it plays in engaging employees.
If the supplier’s material is nothing but an unfiltered list of platform features, there’s a decent chance the developer is more enamoured with the software itself than how it actually helps your business and staff.
Ease of use
It’s unlikely your entire company is made up of tech wonks and millennials.
Employee recognition software should rely on familiar user interfaces, so staff will slip in and get to grips with minimal adjustment.
Recognition doesn’t have to be led by cash-value rewards, or even use them at all, but your employee recognition software should come with the power to incorporate them.
It gives you an extra string to your bow for truly excellent performances.
Not everyone has the budget to indulge staff with cash-value rewards on the back of a recognition platform. That’s where you need a bit of creativity from your supplier.
Ask yourself how the platform rewards top performers without having to use financial rewards.
We talk all the time on this blog about the benefits of employees recognising each other.
Worthwhile employee recognition software absolutely has to include the ability for employees to recognise one another. Manager-led recognition has its place but peer-to-peer is just as vital.
Recognition, especially peer-to-peer recognition, gets a boost from being public.
Your staff’s achievements are held up for their peers to see, and they become little trophies on a shared digital space.
A birds’ eye view of what’s happening on any platform you use is vital.
Keeping track of who is recognising whom, for what, and when, gives managers insights on how your teams are interacting.
That kind of understanding can drive managerial decisions to bring teams together or capitalise on already strong relationships to make projects succeed.
You don’t want a GDPR nightmare to ruin your brand new employee recognition software.
Make sure you know where your data gets stored, what kind of back-ups are in place, and how the supplier will respond to any outages.
While your staff will mean well when interacting with your employee recognition software, even good intentions can bleed into tricky areas.
Take a careful look at what kind of power your managers have to intervene in the software if it’s ever used in bad faith.
Suppliers will do everything they can to idiot-proof their software. But someone always builds a better idiot. At some point, you’ll have a problem and need help.
What happens when, despite the best efforts of all and sundry, the software falls over? You need to ask who will respond, what they’ll do, and what kind of time frame you can expect that to be in.
Never, ever buy or licence software based just on screenshots.
Insist on seeing a live demo and getting a chance to interact with the software live before even entertaining the idea of parting with your money.
Ask about a transition or implementation schedule before you buy.
Not only will it smooth the process if you have it ahead of time, but seeing that a company has navigated implementations and transitions before is a good sign of their competence.
Now it’s up to you
Run through our checklist, but most importantly use your own common sense and intuition.
If it’s too good to be true it often is. HR software is a buyer’s market; you can afford to shop around make sure you’re completely confident before making a decision.
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Peer-to-peer recognition programs help build a sense of belonging and a positive place in a business. In turn, that leads to more motivated staff and better productivity.
A recent study from Harvard Business School (HSB) put this assertion to the test with a group of fruit pickers.
Their results back up what we tell all our clients. Recognising your staff, particularly peer-to-peer recognition, leads to happier and more productive employees.
How the study worked
HBS researched fruit harvesting staff in the Western United States. The work is relatively lonely. There’s minimal social interaction, and few chances for an employee to hear positive feedback from peers.
A sub-group of fruit pickers were asked to watched a short video. It was presented by colleague from their company, detailing how the work they do has a positive impact on the rest of the business.
The video was deliberately inclusive in tone. It focused heavily on how quality work benefited the company. Not just the company’s success, but how they affected the work of employees further down the production queue.
The employees exposed to positive expressions about their work were more motivated and did more work.
The motivating effect showed up again in a similar lab study too. Internal recognition and affirmation had a positive effect on employee motivation and productivity.
The key conclusion
The most important line in the study is this:
“Contact with an internal beneficiary…yielded a persistent increase in productivity.”
It’s something you need to embrace and utilise for the health of your company and your employees.
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Thank a colleague for what they do. It improves the physical and mental condition of both that colleague and you yourself. That’s the evidence from a recent study by Portland State University and Clemson State University.
The study explained
The university staff ran a study of 146 nurses practicing in Oregon, USA. Nurses in the USA are subject to burnout at an especially high rate.
That’s due to the physical and emotional stress of their work. The stress is why they were perfect for the study.
Over three months, the nurses completed surveys about their experience inside and outside work. There was a notable correlation between nurses being offered gratitude at work and uptick of mental health.
How “thank you” boosts health
Thanking colleagues affects both their mental and physical health. The two are inextricably linked, and inform each other.
Alleviation of mental stress from being thanked is the catalyst for other health benefits.
Improving a co-worker’s mental health is a noticeable result of taking the time to thank a colleague.
They’ll feel appreciated, and they know their work is appreciated. They enjoy a positive afterglow they’ll carry into the hours and days after hearing your thanks.
Feeling gratitude increases overall job satisfaction. And it lowers the stress employees feel while going about their work.
That lower stress makes it easier to handle difficult situations in the workplace. the result is a more overall more positive work experience.
Giving gratitude, in turn, makes us feel good. Contributing to a positive feedback mechanism gives us a sense of wellbeing of our own.
The physical health aspect comes down to two areas – lower stress and better self-care. Both have a strong link to the mental health benefits of hearing gratitude.
On a direct level, people who feel less stress from work get sick less often, and they enjoy better sleep. But there’s also a knock-on effect; less stress leads to employees exercising more self-care.
By lowering overall stress levels and making staff feel better, the nurses in the university study showed a greater level of self-care.
When hearing gratitude, the nurses in the study were more likely to make positive lifestyle choices. In turn, that fed back into their physical health.
Time to take action
Get out there and thank a colleague doing something worthwhile. When you see someone doing well, let them know.
Not just behaviour that benefits you and your work directly. Include performance that benefits the whole workplace.
Ethical behaviour, exemplary service, improvements in their performance, or even small but worthwhile gestures for other staff.
Or, if you’re in management, encourage and facilitate your employees showing gratitude for each other. Put systems and schemes in place that make it simple for your staff to express gratitude.
Good for you, good for your business
Thank a colleague today. It’s good for you. It’s good for your co-workers. And if you’re an employer, that’s good news for more than just your conscience.
Long term, having a more mentally and physically healthy workforce is good for business. Lower stress and healthier lifestyle choices reduce the amount of working days lost to sickness.
Mentally healthy employees, with lower levels of unhealthy stress, are more likely to be productive and stay in your company for longer.
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Five years ago, very few HR pros were talking about social recognition. Now, it’s at the forefront of our business. And it takes up much more space in the HR world.
Having a coherent understanding of social recognition, and employee recognition, isn’t negotiable any more. Your leaders need it.
This blog outlines the basics of social recognition. Get to grips with the idea in just five minutes.
Employee recognition at a glance
To get why social recognition is so important, you need to be familiar with employee recognition overall.
Employee recognition is about validating and affirming positive actions.
It creates positive reinforcement that encourages more good behaviour. That has a knock-on effect of improving your company, and company culture.
What you’re highlighting could be many things. Anything from a metric-driven success to an example of someone living out your company’s values. When you recognise behaviour, you highlight it as desirable.
Making staff feel good about that makes them more likely to repeat it.
Keeping that recognition close to your values has benefits, too. It strengthens your company’s sense of identity and purpose. In turn, that helps you build engagement.
Social recognition explained
Social recognition is recognition that doesn’t have to follow your company’s hierarchy.
The recognition is between peers, across departments, from lower in seniority to the higher. There’s no restrictions on who recognises who.
Most employees already do a version of this. Probably verbally, with a hand-written note, or through an email.
Telling each other job well done, saying thanks for some help from another team. While it’s normal, it’s limited to just those two employees.
Social recognition platforms give those expressions a public venue. It makes sure the recognition is in line with your values.
And it gives all employees a central place to post and read messages of gratitude from around the business.
When the recognition is public , other employees can see what’s important to company culture.
Then everyone can see for themselves what’s important to their colleagues and the company.
Where social recognition beats top-down recognition
As we’ve pointed out, recognition is traditionally top-down. Managers recognise their employees for notable behaviour.
That recognition is valuable, but it doesn’t have the same effect as social recognition.
Top-down recognition doesn’t empower staff, or encourage a culture of mutual appreciation.
Employees showing appreciation for each other has impacts top-down recognition can’t match.
Social recognition builds connections
Social recognition builds the strength of the bonds between employees. Staff feel valued and feel that their efforts are noticed and celebrated.
This improves mood at work, and builds strong connections with their colleagues.
It also builds attachments between employee behaviour and your company values. Increasing employee engagement depends on strong links between positive behaviour and company values.
Channeling achievement through those values builds engagement with your business and your goals. It lets employees see how they’re having an impact on something bigger than their daily tasks.
Social recognition improves businesses
Individuals, teams and organisations benefit from social recognition’s effects. It makes a difference to a range of areas, including:
Social recognition makes teams work better together. Recognised employees see that they’re a valued member of a team.
When they feel valuable and respected, they work better with peers. In turn, they become more valuable to that team. When these patterns repeat themselves across department, teamwork is significantly uplifted.
Leaders can take a top-down view of who recognises across a social recognition system.
This gives your managers key insight on how your employees interact (or don’t, as it might be). As we’ll explain below, managers can also capitalise on a social recognition system to recognise staff.
When your values are celebrated daily, they come to life. Your employees see that you’re earnest about them.
And they see that employees who live them out are recognised by their peers. This creates more ethical behaviour in the future.
Knowing that your contributions are valued at work reduces stress.
There’s less worry about an employee’s place in social hierarchy or team. Reducing stress is a major factor in employee wellbeing.
A good environment for staff improves how they see your company. By bringing your values to life, you let employees see your company as ethical.
By recognising their contributions, you make staff feel good about being associated with their colleagues and your company.
Together these benefits improve your company’s culture. The recognition helps everyone feel closer.
Closer to each other, and closer to your company and what it stands for. That makes it easier for employees to embrace your company and become more engaged staff.
The benefits of recognition are measurable
Companies that take recognition seriously see measurable boosts to measurable boosts in performance. They include:
‘Recognition-rich’ working environments have a 31% lower employee turnover rate.*
Companies that practice strategic peer-to-peer recognition cite a 32% increase in productivity**
Employee engagement is observed to increase by 61% when employee recognition programs are offered.+
A 15% higher employee engagement rate correlates with 2% percent uplift in operating margins.~
Managers can still chip in
Opening the floor to social recognition doesn’t mean managers are left out of the conversation.
It’s still vital that leaders make sure they recognise the positive and outstanding things their staff do.
Having an open platform is also a gift to managers. It gives leaders a bird’s-eye view of who is recognising who, and for what.
Acts of recognition a manager might have missed become visible. That gives managers a chance to double-down on recognition, and offer their own congratulations.
Summing up social recognition
Social recognition is celebrating positive behaviour without relying on company hierarchies.
It’s held close to the values of your organisation, to keep employees close to your company’s values.
This builds engagement with the company. And it strengthens the bonds between employees.
Ultimately that helps you build more loyal, satisfied and productive staff.
*Bersin by Deloitte research
+ Society of Human Resource Management 2012 study
** 2015 SHRM/Globoforce survey
~ Towers Watson
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