Time to throw out the recognition rulebook?

by Ben Abbott15 Jul 2015
HR teams will need to develop smaller and more regular avenues for employee recognition if they are to continue to engage employees.
 
A leading expert on employee recognition says there are still many companies and sectors where recognition practices are ‘poor’.
 
Solterbeck’s David Jackson told HC Online this is often due to leaders who are not convinced by the efficacy of recognition programs.
 
“Often, they don’t value it and believe that others don’t either,” he said.
 
Due to recognition’s ‘discretionary’ nature even within HR’s own suite of strategic tools, there are companies still lagging behind trend, he said.
 
“What we find with a lot of organisations is, until they’ve actually done it, these practices aren’t necessarily ingrained or mandated.”
 
Many employers are also using ‘old school’ approaches in the form of formal, infrequent recognition strategies – like employees of the month.
 
Jackson said HR best practice is moving towards offering small, frequent bursts of recognition to more employees, day-in and day-out.
 
This can be as simple as ‘thank you’, or engineering a company culture with more peer recognition as well as appreciations from customers.
 
Two finalists for this year’s Australian HR Awards – Commonwealth Bank and American Express – are examples of culture’s that have moved to prize recognition.
 
American Express’ Reward Blue program is based on three pillars: praise employees for their efforts, offer rewards for results and celebrate loyalty.
 
American Express’ senior leaders are also strong advocates of employee  recognition at the company, and consistently support reward and recognition as part of the group’s broader total compensation philosophy.
 
Meanwhile, Commonwealth Bank’s ‘Legends of Can’ reward and recognition program has recognised 74% of employees in just six months for displaying the bank’s values in the workplace.
 
“Engagement has been exceptionally high and executive buy-in reflects its standing as a key element of the bank’s strategy,” the bank says.
 
Jackson said the GFC had shown recognition experts the financial quantum of a reward was not the most critical motivator of employees.
 
Jackson recommends organisations start small by looking at what they are already doing and “give it a little nudge” by elevating the practice.
 
“Simplicity works. It doesn’t have to be a major investment, or recruiting new staff; it can be done incrementally,” Jackson said.
 
“Where activity is generated and becomes more visible, you will get a little bit of success, providing the evidence to put more time into it.” 
 

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