Failing recognition strategies highlight disconnect between employees and managers

Is there a disconnect between your managers and employees?

Failing recognition strategies highlight disconnect between employees and managers

New research shows the perceptions of managers aren’t quite stacking up with reality when it comes to how well they are recognising their employees.

The findings from global engagement platform Achievers paint a worrying picture from the inside of many organisations, highlighting a sizeable gap between how rewarded managers believe their employees are and the experience of those on the ground. The Engagement and Recognition @ Work report found managers believe 22% of employees strongly feel they are appropriately recognised at work, when in reality, that figure is just 12%.

Managers are overestimating engagement levels too. Only 14% of employees surveyed say they feel engaged in their overall work experience, whereas managers think the proportion is 26%. As a result of their low engagement and recognition, the percentage of Australian employees who are dissatisfied with their workplace is more than double that of managers.

Matt Seadon, Managing Director APAC at Achievers, told HRD that the data suggests recognition has slipped from the priority list in the last year – and employee engagement is suffering as a result.

“We've seen organisations that haven't embraced digital recognition really struggle,” he said. “You’ve got organisations who were good at recognition in person, so they have the system, but they didn't have the technology that sat under their organisation. Instead, they relied on town halls or the power of the personality with the CEO or the MD to get up there and drive recognition through the organisation.”

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Without that physical contact in the face of lockdowns and restrictions, organisations have needed to be far more intentional to have the same results. For those who have let recognition drop to the bottom of the priority list, the knock-on effects have been damaging.

Seadon said without effective recognition, key markers like engagement and retention levels will eventually plummet. The positive cycle of recognition, engagement, productivity and innovation that employers rely on to be successful will hit a roadblock. So, what can HR leaders do to close the expectation vs reality gap?

Seadon said the first step for HR leaders is to assess whether a disconnect exists in their organisation through surveys and feedback data. But he warned inaction fatigue is a common problem. Ensure any calls for feedback are followed by a plan of action that can be held accountable by employees.

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“The second step is to focus on recognition. Prioritising recognition is a really simple way to drive engagement across the organisation,” he said. “But don't just do it once. It can be as simple as putting time in your diary as a recurring task to check in with the team and take a moment to recognise achievements.

“Managers and HR teams should also think about how they can use recognition within internal communication, because we’re not getting those moments of face-to-face time to congratulate and say thanks that we would get in an office environment. Think about how you can embrace internal communication channels to bring forward some of those stories.”

Finally, Seadon said adapting and being flexible is the third key step – particularly in the everchanging times we’re currently finding ourselves in. Bouncing in and out of lockdown, managers and HR need to be able to pivot recognition strategies from face-to-face to virtual – and back again - to really keep their finger on the pulse.

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