Are You Valuing Your Employees or Simply Recognizing Them?

Do you have an employee recognition program in place? If you do, what’s the purpose of that program?

The obvious answer: “Recognizing employees.” Now for the trick question – is recognizing your employees enough?

That sounds odd, indeed, coming from a person committed to helping companies implement truly strategic employee recognition programs. But this difference in “recognizing” and “valuing” is one of the things that sets strategic recognition apart from the much more common tactical programs.

Based on recent research conducted by Kenexa, they explain the difference this way:

“One of the more common inquiries on employee engagement surveys is some variation of, ‘I receive recognition when I do good work.’ The norm score across industries and countries for this question is about 55 percent favorable. Meaning, on average, about half of all employees feel they are appropriately recognized. At the best companies—the top 10 percent—the score is about 66 percent favorable. …

“Compare this to the inquiry, ‘I feel valued as an employee of this company,’ which is much less frequently asked (indicating that many organizations don’t even see the value in asking about employees feeling valued). The average score here is 41 percent favorable, with 32 percent marking an unfavorable response. In other words, on average, less than half of the employees in a typical organization feel valued as an employee and one-third actively believe they aren’t valued. …

“Recognizing an individual means successfully completing a project. Valuing someone is letting him or her know that you are glad he or she is on the team and that things wouldn’t be as good without them.”

Adding the element of “valuing” to every recognition you give to an employee – indeed, requiring that “value statement” in every recognition – is what can make your program strategic. Getting this right at the very beginning of program planning and design is critical. That’s why we make it part of our first tactic: “Establish Program Goals and Objectives.” As we wrote in Winning with a Culture of Recognition:

“Your goals must be specific to your organization’s ambitions, market position, and challenges. Take time to define these goals clearly, for without them, recognition will not be taken seriously as a strategic initiative. … We often say they don’t teach recognition in management school, so most managers are ill-equipped to make use of it and must be trained. … Naming your program ambitions in detail also informs program design.”

The average employee doesn’t know how to properly recognize their colleagues, much less value them. Correcting this as a program goal will set you on the path to strategic recognition.

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