IBM Smarter Workforce Institute: Achieve the Power of Thanks through Multiple Recognition Channels

By Derek Irvine

Separate arrows merging into oneRecognize This! – We all know the power of social recognition to engage and retain employees, but when employees have multiple channels to share recognition, the benefits grow exponentially.

The IBM Smarter Workforce Institute (SWI) recently released a report showing the importance of using multiple channels for recognition. The report is based on a survey of 19,000 workers from over 26 countries and shows the Power of Thanks. The more communication channels we use to recognize workers, the better we can reach and thank employees. This thanks leads to higher engagement and retention.

Key findings of the report include (quoting):

  • Employees who receive recognition are more likely to be engaged at work. The engagement level of employees who receive recognition is almost three times higher (76%) than the engagement level of those who do not (28%).
  • Workers who receive recognition are less likely to quit. Without recognition, about half (51 percent) of surveyed employees say they intend to leave, with recognition just one quarter (25 percent) say they intend to leave their organizations.
  • Employees whose organizations use multiple communication channels for recognition are more likely to feel appreciated and show a higher level of employee engagement. The more channels used for recognition, the higher the employee engagement level.
  • The findings imply that technologies such as social and mobile could be strong candidates for the effective delivery of recognition as they offer interactive, frequent and immediate communication via multiple channels.

Why Multiple Channels? More Timely Recognition!

Written and face-to-face recognition were historically the primary methods to thank workers. These channels are not enough to reach employees in today’s global, virtual and mobile workplace. Use of technologies like mobile recognition, online recognition platforms, peer-to-peer recognition videos are critical to keeping high employee engagement levels.

Timely recognition is essential for recognition effectiveness. Mobile apps and other technologies make this far more feasible more than having to wait to get into the office and submit paperwork or logging in through a computer. With a smartphone, recognition can happen anytime, anywhere. This is especially true for overcoming geographic boundaries. IBM SWI points out:

“It has been shown that recognition is more meaningful when it is delivered in a timelier and more frequent manner. By removing the restriction of geographic location and timing, the use of a variety of technology-enabled communication channels can have a positive impact on employees, driven by the fast and frequent delivery of recognition.”

Email Alone Is Not the Answer

Though we know speed and timeliness of recognition matters, email unfortunately continues to dominate (at 58%) as the most common form of technology used for recognition. But email is highly flawed when used as the sole means of “technology-based recognition.”

It does not share the accomplishment of the employee with peers or provide a way to easily track and report on recognition activity in any kind of deep or meaningful way. Truly effective methods are driven by social recognition, involving work communities, online platforms, and mobile apps that share recognized accomplishments with colleagues and work friends to enable a flurry of congratulations on a job well done.

Increase Engagement and Retention

Recognition is a direct, key driver of employee engagement. IBM SWI’s research showed employees who receive recognition are 48% more engaged than those who do not. IBM SWI showed that the more channels used for recognition, the higher the employee engagement.

IBM SWI_Multi-Channel Recognition

Social recognition is key not only to employee engagement, but also to retention. Retention is in the top three challenges facing human resources today. When looking at the link between recognition and retention, 51% of workers who did not receive recognition intended to quit versus only 25% of those who received recognition.

The Time to Evolve Recognition Is Now

If we’re looking to retain, engage, and get the most out of our talent, we have to evolve our recognition strategies to communicate in a manner that is relevant to today’s workplace. IBM SWI concludes their research with this recommendation:

“Based on findings in this study, organizations should consider taking full advantage of varied communication channels in their recognition programs. In particular, social, mobile, and other technologies could be strong candidates for the effective delivery of recognition messages as they enable multiple channels and offer opportunities for interactive, frequent, and immediate communication. If done right, employee recognition programs can unleash the full power of thanks.”

I couldn’t agree more. What recognition channels are you using to recognize your workers? Are you using enough channels? Are you using the right channels?

 

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