Changing culture

by Contributor16 Oct 2018

What role can recognition play in changing culture? Jeremy Salter, account director, Blackhawk Network – home to Achievers, has the answers

What role can recognition play in changing culture?

Employee recognition and reward programs provide organisations with both a symbolic and a structural way to change organisational culture. They can amplify leaders, communicate values and provide a process that allows employers to encourage, measure and align behaviours.

Modern recognition programs can integrate into all aspects of work and reach more deeply into areas of the organisation where employee behaviours are less visible and harder to measure.

While compliance programs can mitigate the risk of the wrong culture by limiting the behaviours of a few, e­ffective recognition programs can change culture by providing a practical way to encourage and measure the right behaviours of all.

What are the risks of having the wrong culture?

An organisation’s culture can be considered a risk if it encourages, supports or fails to prevent behaviours that do not align with its stated values or purpose. Risks can be financial, legal, regulatory and reputational. Levels of risk are amplified by social media and potential public backlash. The consequences of having the wrong organisational culture can be significant and far-reaching. No organisation is immune.

How can an organisation change culture?

Attempts to change culture often focus more on the symbolic than the structural; more on the influence of leaders and the internal communication of purpose and values; more on what employees think than the processes and procedures that directly influence behaviour. Focusing on the symbolic is hard: it’s di cult to get into people’s heads and change what they think. And a symbolic approach perhaps exaggerates the trickle-down influence of leaders, ideology and creative newsletters on the everyday attitudes and behaviour of employees.

Paying less attention to the underlying mechanics of a culture may be one reason why many change programs fail. To be effective, they must consider the structures and associated systems, processes, procedures and workflows that directly influence the everyday behaviour of employees. This includes how people are organised, how their performance is measured, and how they are rewarded.

Fast fact: According to its survey report Why Your Workforce Isn’t Working, HCM software company Sage found that more than 66% of respondents viewed employee recognition as the most important element of the employee experience.

Jeremy Salter
Account director