Six steps to building a culture of recognition

by 17 Oct 2014
From as little as $100-150 per employee per year, employers can build recognition programs that deliver tangible business results through more engaged and productive workers. Here are six tips to do it well.
Dreaming big is almost a pre-requisite for business success. Without dreaming big, it’s unlikely Steve Jobs and his Apple team would’ve revolutionised the way we listen to music (thanks to MP3s delivered via the IPod), and it’s just as unlikely that Sir Richard Branson would’ve evolved from record label owner to being the face of global behemoth Virgin.
Yet dreaming big falls down when there are no practical solutions in place to achieve smaller goals. Recognition of the small achievements along the way, and breaking the strategy down to goals that mean something to every day workers, is an effective way to build sustained high performance.
“You couldn’t solely point to a reward & recognition strategy and say it equates to an engaged workforce as there are multiple elements involved in the EVP – but recognition is a key part of that EVP,” says Mark Robinson, executive general manager EMEA & APAC, Power2Motivate.
There are several foundational building blocks that must be covered when rolling out an effective recognition strategy.
  1. Identify values and desired outcomes
Be clear on the desired outcome from a recognition program. Usually, this will be about encouraging desired behaviours – specifically, repetition of desired behaviours that support company values. It’s common sense that if someone does something good, whatever it is, and they get rewarded, they are likely to repeat that behaviour or action.
“Turning values into recognisable and repeatable behaviours is the ultimate outcome of a recognition program,” says Robinson.
Hence, from nomination to reward, each step of the recognition process should be built around demonstrating company values.
  1. Avoid putting dollar values on recognition
Robinson recommends separating the recognition strategy from remuneration. “We don’t want people to view recognition as remuneration,” he explains. “Remuneration is being paid for doing your job. Recognition is for going above and beyond. We find small and often works.”
However, instead of saying ‘that is worthy of  $150 , which some people might feel short-changed by (‘I thought I would be worth more than that!’), Power2Motivate favours a points-based system. Employees build enough points to then pick a tangible reward that is meaningful to them.
  1. Provide a choice of rewards
Offering movie tickets or a $50 Myer voucher is great – but it will only motivate some people. “You pigeon hole them – you as an organisation are dictating what will motivate the employee,” says Robinson.
Instead, offer something for everyone. Power2Motivate offers 35,000 different items. From practical items like a juicer, a blender or an iPad, through to charitable donations or experiences, Robinson says it’s important to offer a wide range of rewards that tap into all possible motivational drivers of employees.
It’s worth noting that physical items that people use every day also have ‘trophy value’. That is, every time the person uses the item, they think of the organisation and what they’ve done to deserve it.
“You’ve ordered a new IPad from the fully customised, branded recognition program that ANZ Bank has implemented. It’s then delivered to you at your office. In your mind, that gift is associated with work. I was recently talking to someone who was given a record player from IBM 25 years ago, and he still tells the story of when IBM gave him that record player,” Robinson says.
  1. The technology exists – use it!
Peer-to-peer social recognition has now become de-rigueur. Ensuring recognition is easily shared amongst employees takes recognition to the next level. Best practice for this strategy includes intranet updates, regular emails, announcements in staff meetings and a recognition platform that collectively stores all program data. The benefit of making recognition public and sharable is seeing company values and recognition embedded into the daily lives of employees. Recognition should also be instant, or as close to the event as possible. Technology can help to automate the process.
  1. Don’t forget to refresh your program
Recognition programs tend to be launched in a blaze of excitement, only to fizzle out a short time later. Robinson recommends employers review their program every 2-3 years. “You probably won’t be refreshing or changing your values but you might refresh the branding of the program, to give it a fresh new look,” he says. “A key to the success of recognition programs is good communication, so if you’ve changed it up, tell people about it.”
  1. Don’t panic – it doesn’t cost a lot
Budget control is critical to the success of a recognition strategy; a lack of budget insight is a sign of an antiquated program. Allocating budgets gives oversight and allows ROI to be calculated in a clearer way. According to World at Work, the average for recognition spend is 2%+ of payroll, being the benchmark for top performing companies.
“We recommend $100-150 per employee per year. It’s not a lot – and remember, virtual e-cards and virtual high-fives cost nothing,” Robinson concludes.

Power2Motivate is the truly global solution for employee recognition and reward. Working closely with you to customise, implement and manage your program, Power2Motivate will help improve employee engagement and performance in your business.


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