Culture of Recognition in the Workplace – How recognition can assist in your culture and strategy execution
Many organizations talk about building a specific culture or a need to change the culture. They want to build culture of recognition in the workplace which will help to increase employee engagement and motivation. In simple terms culture can be explained as “The way we get things done around here”.
Considering that simplistic definition of culture, it’s easy to understand where the culture emanates from. It clearly comes from individual and group level behaviour and practices, the seen and unseen rules followed at work and work units.
And if you want to understand how these rules and behaviours get formed, then you just need to focus on what gets rewarded and what gets punished in the system. By focusing on what individuals and groups reward or punish one can learn a great deal about the culture and values held by the organization. When this is viewed in conjunction with the stated organizational objectives or strategy one gets a very clear picture where the organization is headed and the path it is taking to reach there.
As per one of the Great Place to Work® whitepapers recognition can account for up to 40% of great performance delivered at work by individuals. By focusing on a more personalized expression of individual recognition done in a timely manner companies can really reap great benefits from their recognition programs.
Implementing personalized recognition programs is one of the ways to build culture of recognition in the workplace. These kinds of recognition programs that are tightly linked to the organizational objectives, values and aim to build the right culture, are termed as “strategic recognition programs”. Such programs if designed and executed well transform the tactical activity of recognition into a strategic one. They provide an exponentially more powerful engagement system and along the way offer a wealth of valuable, actionable data for talent and culture management. You might also want to read Why you need a Formal Employee Recognition Program
The strategic recognition program does not overly focus on the “hard” part of recognition aka, the monetary value of the recognitions designed. Instead it focuses on the “soft” part of the recognition aka the emotional value attached with it.
Research by Bersin and Associates indicates that while organizations design programs to recognize employees demonstrating values, what gets recognized are company goals. This disconnect means the organizations send an inconsistent message to employees about what they should do to receive recognition. The end result being the recognition program does not make much impact on the metrics that matter such as employee engagement, productivity, and employee attrition.
The same research further pointed out that in organizations where employees are recognized, the company’s average score on employee results was approximately 14 percent higher than in organizations in which recognition does not occur. Another research indicates that a 15 percent improvement in employee engagement can result in a 2 percent improvement in operating margin. This clearly establishes a linkage between such strategic recognition programs which focus on the “soft” aspects with business results, strategy, and culture.
One of the fundamental design elements of a strategic recognition program is direction in which recognition flows. There are 3 general directions in which recognition can flow in an organization – Top-down (manager to employee), peer-to-peer (employee to employee), and bottom up (employee to manager). The impact of recognition can be maximized when recognition flows in all of these directions throughout the organization.
Another critical design element is visibility, defined as state in which the recognition can be seen or heard by others. Technology today is an important visibility consideration. By using an online social platform to facilitate recognition organizations can provide “news feeds” about recognition actions across the organization. This format ensures that everyone knows who is getting recognized and for what. This visible format increases transparency and potentially the employee engagement.
The third most important element of a strategic recognition program that focuses on the “soft” part is , customization. This means how the recognition is uniquely customized for the recipient to make it more personal thus improving the emotional engagement with the recognition. Today again technological tools can be used to ensure the recognition programs are delivered in a highly personalized manner to the individual, which is likely to increase employee engagement.
As you can see designing a strategic recognition program requires a lot of thought and effort. However done right the program can reap benefits in terms of improved employee engagement, reduced attrition, improved employer brand and ultimately an improved organizational performance.
As companies continue to grow and expand technology advances, we are finding ourselves increasingly fragmented from our social support networks both at work and at home. The digital revolution has increased our speed of work dramatically. Some research suggests that technology may also be one of the keys to connecting back together- creating an effective, organic and peer based recognition program could lead teams to greater success and happiness at work.
So if you have drafted your organizational objectives and strategies and are clear about the way you want to achieve those organizational objectives, then it’s time for you to start thinking about designing a strategic recognition program. By considering the 3 key design elements mentioned herein, you can look to design a recognition program that helps you build the right culture and aids in achieving your organizational strategic objectives including financial performance. Building culture of recognition in the workplace through strategic recognition program can assist your organization to drive growth and meet your business goals.