Employee recognition is a powerful tool that can help engage, retain and motivate your company workforce – if done well. The problem is that many organisations don’t do it well.
No matter the size of your organisation, whether it’s 5 or 50,000 employees, when managers (or peers) show their people and colleagues meaningful appreciation, it will positively influence their loyalty, attitude and improve performance. This will be reflected in increased staff retention and talent attraction, while delivering innovation and cost saving initiatives and even enhancing customer the experience.
But just as proper recognition has the power to influence the employee in a positive way, thoughtless or ineffective recognition can produce a negative impact. Below are the four major mistakes to avoid when implementing employee recognition and rewards programs. Using these guidelines should start you off on the right track:
The “One Size Fits All” approach.
We all know that no one is the same. So don’t make the mistake of recognising each of your people the same way. For instance, when publically recognising an employee who prefers private praise, they might feel more embarrassed than rewarded. Recognising in a one-size-fits-all approach puts the intention at risk of losing the motivating benefit. To combat this mistake, first find out what your staff would prefer – public or private praise? Once that’s understood, begin recognising in ways that are more personally meaningful and motivating.
Recognising too much or too often.
Creating a culture of recognition requires managers to recognise employees in a consistent manner. However, there is a fine line between purposeful recognition and excessive recognition. If people are recognised too much – there is a risk of devaluing the recognition and having them see it as an entitlement rather than an acknowledgement of good performance.
Consistency of recognition, measuring performance “over and above” will go a long way to meeting this challenge.
Recognising too little.
In a world where the average tenure of employees is 4.6 years, there is little value in celebrating a 5-year service anniversary. Clearly that is too little, too late! While it’s important to respect tenure, if solely recognising service milestones, the company or department isn’t harnessing the retention and motivating power of recognition. Similarly, giving staff a Christmas bonus may seem like a great idea, but aligning it with recognition for contribution will make it meaningful and worthwhile to the business as well as the recipient.
Instead, make sure recognition is an integrated part of the culture from the moment each employee enters the company by acknowledging contributions as well as length of service.
Neglecting to tie recognition to performance goals or company values.
The purpose of recognition is to promote good behavior and positive performance. But what’s recognition without purpose? Failing to align goals and objectives with each recognised behaviour will dilute the connection between performance and organisational values.
For recognition to be effective, it must be specifically tied to performance goals or corporate values. It is important for the workforce to make the connection of short and long-term goals and the overall values and mission of the company.
Don’t be careless about giving recognition or treat it casually. Recognition and reward programs can influence employee behavior and result in improved morale, increased productivity and improved performance.
But to reap these benefits, it’s essential to avoid these common recognition mistakes.
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