What’s the Best Form of Recognition for Today’s Employees? It’s a Communications and Trust Challenge
If you Google “Recognition” or “Performance Management” you’ll get a ton of information and it all sounds good. Our industry has become a very confusing place full of impressive-sounding books, expert advice, and all kinds of versions of the “new secret to recognizing and engaging today’s employees”.
Some guru’s claim that trophy-value, logoed recognition awards have the best ROI, because they can’t be shopped and have lasting, reoccurring value to employees. Other experts claim that the secret is in top down, transparent and honest communication; everything is driving from upper management with their level of believability as the key to getting employees to bring extra effort to their work.
Still other consultants claim that in today’s workplace Peer to Peer recognition is what is valued and suggest that all you have to do is spend small amounts of money to get big results in discretionary effort. They say that employees value the recognition of other employees more than management, because their peers are down there in the trenches with them and know what’s really going on.
Guess what? … they’re all correct, based on each expert’s background, experience and viewpoint. People who come from the Incentive side of the industry see the value of calculated ROI based on measurable behaviors. Those who come from a background in traditional recognition and the Service Awards side of the industry see the value of engaging employees emotionally and how love and respect leads to lower turnover, higher morale, more creativity and behaviors that lead to greater profits. Those who come from a more academic background, the psychologists and teachers, tend to focus on the low or no cost Peer to Peer recognition tools as the best way to get the most out of employees in the workplace.
Having studied all of these theories and ideas for over 25 years, I have come to the conclusion that all of these tools need to work together, so the best possible approach to optimizing employee value is really a communications and training-based challenge. Yes, it requires support and transparency from the top down, but Peer to Peer and Supervisor to Peer recognition is where the rubber meets the road day to day. When presented properly, customized, logoed awards do have the most long term value, however for earned incentives, cash equivalents; travel and lifestyle awards work better for recognition of earned behaviors that can be calculated against actual dollar savings for the company.
It all trickles down to an exercise in improved communication and a properly structured approach. You must start with upper management buy in, and then move to a training-based approach that engages midlevel managers and supervisors, so they come across as enthusiastic and believable to employees. A comprehensive program will then fan out in to recognition awards that appeal to the employee’s Right Brain, creating trust and emotional engagement, and performance management rewards the appeal to the employee’s Left Brain and achieve logical, calculable results.
If you start with company Mission, Values and Goal, engage your management team first, then reach out to employees emotionally and logically, you will be able to get the most ROI from your combined recognition and incentive investments.
We call this an Umbrella Recognition Solution and it is what top performing organizations are using to optimize their most value asset – people!
I just received a great piece from Skip Weisman called The 4 Conversations. I think that this does a great job of simplifying the communications challenge that most companies face in dealing with their employees. Since recognition is a subset of communication, I think The 4 Conversations can be a great part of your training-based approach to a powerful recognition culture. Check it out – #mce_temp_url#