A New Model for Recognition * Give Them What They Need AND Want

I’ll be returning to the topic of employee preference for gift card rewards in future posts, but I will also continue to offer my take on the latest research and news in our industry as well. To that end, the Ascent Group puts out an interesting report on Reward & Recognition Program Best Practices (requires purchase) every year. The most recent report contains many of the same themes as the prior year.

Why is getting recognition right so important?

“Research has shown that employees who are satisfied with their company’s reward and recognition program are usually more satisfied with their jobs, more likely to remain with the company, and more likely to recommend their workplace to others.”

So how do you get recognition right? I am always pleased to see how closely reflective Ascent’s key recommendations are of our own best practices:

Key recommendations:

• Reinforce behaviors and reward results
• Be timely, specific and communicate
• Match the reward to the person & the achievement
• Involve employees in the design and refinement of R&R programs
• Look to technology to facilitate program admin and tracking
• Review programs & rewards frequently to keep them aligned with corporate goals and employee expectations
• Design R&R programs so the entire team/group is working towards the same goals & appropriately recognized
• Train supervisors and managers so they are skilled in recognizing & rewarding employees
• Measure the effectiveness & impact of your reward & recognition programs

Key findings:

• Primary basis for reward and recognition: meeting/exceeding metrics (74%)
• R&R program goals: improve performance (51%), improve morale (45%), support business objectives (28%), influence change (13%)
• Average spend per employee: $650
• Total budget per year: less than 1% (33%); 1-5% (36%)

Worst program characteristics:
• Inconsistency
• Untimely R&R delivery
• Unclear program qualifications or criteria
• Perceived unattainable goals
• Rewards don’t match employee desires/limited choice/undervalued rewards
• Don’t include all employee classifications
• Few winners/popularity contest
• Catalog selection limited/company logo items are stale
• Disingenuous praise

If you’re looking for strategic employee recognition that bases recognition on your company values and objectives, encourages participation of 80-90%, and eliminates the catalog of unwanted, undesirable rewards, then you need a new model for recognition that turns the 100-year-old catalog method of trinkets on its head. Listen to what your employees and the industry as a whole are saying. I’ll close with this final thought from the Ascent report.

“Recognition is about acknowledgment and appreciation for a contribution, improvement, innovation, or excellence – a message to employees that they are valued. The act of recognizing an employee affirms the values and spirit underlying the achievement. It’s also about reinforcing desired behaviors and increasing their occurrence. Attitude and performance are closely linked; the appropriate recognition at the appropriate moment will create a positive attitude that, in turn, will lead to improved performance. Communicating this to the rest of the organization creates role models and sets the standards of desired performance.”

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