Employee recognition with meaning26.11.20
General Manager, OneHub | Recognition
Reward managers – we know you’ve had a lot on your plate this year. With the constantly changing employee benefits landscape, and the shift in dynamics in the workplace, you’ve had your hands full with additional administration and hundreds of employee queries. After almost a year of just getting things done, it’s time to turn our attention back to purposeful, thoughtful employee reward and recognition. In the context of Covid, our employees have additional stresses to deal with, and they need reassurance from their employer more than ever. In going the extra mile to show your appreciation in a meaningful way, employees will pay you back tenfold in advocacy, and you could be doing a lot of good for their mental health too. Here’s why it’s so important to offer employee recognition with meaning.
Real-time recognition is a must
When an employee is recognised in the midst – or immediate aftermath – of the hard work that’s being acknowledged, the appreciation hits harder than when it’s delivered a few months, weeks or even days later. When looking at the psychology of recognition, the instant acknowledgment of a good job helps to stamp in our memories the work required to get to our recognition and/or reward, thus helping us to incorporate those behaviours into our habits with the aim of achieving another recognition or reward. Plus, on an emotional level, the recognition is more meaningful when you’re still feeling the effects of that hard work. If employees have really dug deep, worked through some tough hours and put themselves into stressful situations to create great work for you, they need to know – then and there – that this work is being appreciated!
Meaningful employee recognition is personal
There’s no prescriptive ‘right’ way to recognise someone, but there is a wrong way! Sending a blanket ‘thank you’ email to a large amount of employees – regardless of their varying levels of hard work and input – will probably only serve to disengage those high performers who will feel their personal contribution should be acknowledged. This kind of recognition could have the adverse effect to the instant acknowledgment described above, as those people who have worked the hardest may see little point in going the extra mile a second time if their extra effort isn’t going to be acknowledged. Yes, it takes a little longer to send a message to five people individually, but in doing so, you’ll psychologically satisfy the conscious part of the brain’s reward mechanisms (the ‘liking’ of a reward), and ultimately maintain great engagement from these employees.
The importance of emotional resonance
If the recognition you’re delivering to your employee is both timely and personal, the chances are it’s going to resonate with them, emotionally. A truly valuable employee recognition is one that empowers your employee, and acknowledges something specific. General recognitions that say ‘you’re great’ don’t do any harm, but they encourage what’s known as a ‘fixed mindset’ – it makes employees believe more in what they are, rather than what they can do. Showing appreciation for something particular shows your acknowledgment of their professional development and strengthens their belief in themselves to progress. Plus, when you make it personal and timely, the resulting emotional resonance is key to building that authentic connection between you and your employee.
Tying into values helps deliver meaning
At Benefex, we firmly believe that your rewards and recognitions cannot exist separately to your company values. In order for your recognition to make your employee feel that they really belong to your organisation, it cannot encourage behaviours outside of what’s acceptable in your culture, and therefore it must show alignment with values. For example, if you worked for a progressive, approachable brand which showcased its family-friendly beliefs, you wouldn’t then expect to be recognised for aggressive and underhand sales techniques, or for a hostile management style, however effective it was in getting results.
Meaningful rewards are of value to the recipient, but authentic to your brand
Just as a recognition needs to be personal, so must a reward. If you’re going to offer a monetary reward or gift, it should mirror your company culture and brand. We’ve heard many stories about employees in their teens being given M&S vouchers, or famously animal-friendly companies offering a day at Ascot as a reward. This misalignment suggests that these employers don’t know who their people are or what they want – and that their external branding is merely performative. The result, then, is that the reward has very little meaning to the recipient. Getting employees involved in setting up your reward and recognition initiatives from day one will help you to avoid this kind of faux pas, but it will also show employees that you value their input and that you want to make them feel they belong to your organisation. We believe that this feeling of belonging as at the pinnacle of the employee experience.
While there are many ways to go about implementing a recognition initiative, we’ve found that these fundamentals must be central to every strategy if you’re looking to make a meaningful impact:
- Personalised recognitions
- Real-time acknowledgement
- Putting values front-and-centre
- Rewards and recognitions that align with your brand
If your recognition is impersonal, it won’t resonate with the recipient; if it’s given too long after the event, it won’t be as gratifying and won’t necessarily encourage those behaviours that warranted the recognition in the first place; if it doesn’t align to your values, it won’t seem authentic from you as an employer, and if the reward you offer is out of kilter with your brand, it will come across as lazy, and will make your external brand misalign with your internal actions. But if you hit the mark in each of these key areas, it will help employees to feel they belong in your organisation, it will make them feel valued, it will build a genuine relationship between your employees and your organisation, and it will, of course, show them that their hard work is not going unnoticed, which they need now more than ever!
Find out how OneHub | Recognition can help you put these theories into practice! Take a look at our brochure to see how our platform can help you deliver a personal, instant, values-driven recognition initiative.
Joining Benefex from her home in Toronto, Canada, Lauren has a wealth of experience in high-growth tech start-ups, and a fierce passion for innovation in tech.
A lover of a good challenge, Lauren says building happy teams is what gets her out of bed in the morning (that and her dog, Mishu, needing a walk). At Benefex, she does this through heading up our market-leading OneHub | Recognition product!
When not at work, Lauren loves exploring the world multi-week trekking, surfing (terribly), and cycling. Her favourite aspects of life in the UK include Sunday roasts at classic country pubs, the sheer variety of regional accents, and the wonder that is Gogglebox!