According to the winter 2012 SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Tracker, which tracks the sentiments of HR leaders and executives, 95 percent of survey respondents reported effective performance management as a top management challenge in 2012. (Editor’s note: the author works for Globoforce). Employee sentiments are the same as reported in the Fall 2011 Globoforce Workforce Mood Tracker of employee attitudes. Performance reviews are not an accurate appraisal for the work done, nor do they reward employees according to job performance (Figure 1).
Employee recognition can increase motivation, engagement and productivity. It allows managers and peers to reinforce positive behaviors when they occur, giving new life to the phrase “360-degree employee performance reviews.” Further, strategic employee recognition rewards behaviors that exemplify an organization’s core values and goals.
Employees who receive recognition throughout the year are more satisfied in their roles compared to those who only receive it once a year, according to the 2011 Globoforce Workforce Mood Tracker. Of those who receive ongoing feedback and praise throughout the year:
• 75 percent are satisfied with the level of recognition they receive for doing a good job at work, compared to 42 percent who only receive annual feedback.
• 91 percent think their manager or supervisor acknowledges and appreciates them at work, versus 60 percent who only get annual reviews.
• 54 percent think people are rewarded according to their job performance, versus 42 percent of employees who get yearly feedback.
Organizations evaluating how to build a strategic recognition program should consider six hallmarks:
Single, clear global strategy: Companies must have a global vision that defines the program’s desired goals and outcomes. Suggested metrics include increased employee engagement scores or higher employee retention.
Executive sponsorship with defined goals: With a recognition program’s impact on culture, it’s important to secure senior-level support. Managers should be held accountable for participation goals to ensure that culture management is reinforced by all company leaders.
Value alignment: By linking individual recognition moments to company values, employees can see how their behavior impacts culture. Managers can track and monitor recognition moments over time to see employee behavior in action and adjust the program goals as needed.
Participation: A strategic recognition program must be open to all employees to succeed. If only a segment of employees are being recognized, it’s impossible to impact the broader company culture.
Power of individual choice: Just as employees differ by age and demographics, so do their tastes. Everyone is motivated differently, and the power of choice goes a long way in recognition programs. By allowing employees to select their rewards, talent leaders are creating a meaningful experience where employees associate that reward with the company.
Crowd wisdom: By incorporating social elements into a recognition program, managers have real-time insight into employee performance. Recognition within an internal corporate social network also provides crowd-sourced opinions on employee behaviors, offering a more frequent assessment of top performers and insight about the influence of leadership within the organization.
Derek Irvine is vice president of client strategy and consulting for Globoforce, an employee recognition provider. He can be reached at email@example.com.