5 tips on how to make recognition really countNews added by Benefits Pro on May 21, 2014
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By Dan Cook

Mounting evidence underscores the importance of thanking employees for the work they do, especially when they go above and beyond the call of duty.

Now, a survey not only underscores the value of such positive recognition, but takes it a step further: recent recognition can be an extremely powerful engagement tool for employees.

Globoforce, in its Spring 2014 Mood Tracker (a survey actually conducted in January), has this to say about recognition: “Some managers still believe employees should be happy with a paycheck, but companies with social recognition are making a tremendous, measurable impact on engagement, retention and enablement. … Employees spot empty gestures easily, and respond with disinterest and apathy. But when gestures take into account their perspectives and needs, they thrive.”

Globoforce offers its results in five categories, beginning with:

1. Recognition makes employees happier — at work and at home.

The study found that being recognized for one’s efforts “has a direct impact on their happiness at work and in general. That impact is magnified with frequent recognition tied to company values.”

Most workers are reasonably happy on the job, Globoforce said, citing the 87 percent of the 706 respondents to its survey that said they found some happiness level at work. However, only 35 percent said they were completely ga-ga in love with their jobs, interpreted by Globoforce as offering companies an opportunity for improvement.

The trick: recognize often. Sixty percent of those who have been recently recognized say they are happy in all aspects of their lives, compared to the 35 percent of the general working population surveyed.

2. Traditional years of service programs don’t work any longer.

The gold watch, the 25-year-bonus-for-hanging-in-there, the recognition luncheon that your colleagues are forced to attend — none of that works as an engagement factor any more. More than half of those surveyed said that such awards have “no impact at all on their feelings about their job or company.”

“Employers deploy milestone programs to increase engagement and loyalty, but those programs are failing to meet the needs of the modern workforce. Our survey also found that these awards, which typically rely solely on a manager presentation, don’t make an impact on a majority of employees,” Globoforce concluded.

3. Strong disillusionment typically follows an employee’s first work anniversary. But that can be turned around.

The survey showed across the board that first-year employees tended to be happy about their gigs, loved their bosses and embraced all things workplace. After year one, the bloom was off the rose, by as much as 10-15 percent depending upon how long people had been employed.
But, genuine and frequent recognition of a job well done turns those numbers on their ears, the study found.

“When employees experience values-based recognition, they are less disillusioned overall. … When recognition is put into place, feelings of being appreciated, loving a job and being engaged start high and remain high. In all cases, the second-year results are higher than the honeymoon period for employees who don’t have recognition.”

4. People aren’t gamed by gamification.

People find gamification to be inappropriate for use in recognition. Yes, it’s the hot topic, all the rage, let’s meet the millennials where they live, etc. But this survey found that workers generally “do not believe that gamification (badges and leaderboards, etc.) is a positive addition to recognition. They say it is not motivating when recognizing others, and it does not motivate them to work harder.”

Gamification has its positive applications, such as promoting teamwork and funwork. But as recognition, it’s a no-go, this survey concludes. “Firstly, it shifts the focus from the recipient of recognition to the nominator. Secondly, the data itself becomes about competition rather than a reflection of employee values-based behavior. … Overwhelmingly, employees told us that recognition, for them, was not about what they could get, but about what they could give. Badges, titles and points on leaderboards barely signified in their reasons for recognizing their peers.”

5. What’s worse than gamification for recognition? eThanks, thank you very much.

“Only 4 percent of employees find eThanks (award without gift or monetary value) to be a memorable form of recognition. Employees indicate that a thank-you that comes with an associated gift or reward is the most powerful and lasting form of recognition, but eThanks without a gift are unsatisfying in this regard.”

Just more than a quarter found eThanks of any value at all; many others said they were or would be disappointed to get such a mode of recognition.

What’s the No. 1 form of recognition among employees surveyed? “Workers say that by far the most memorable recognition is that which includes a reward or thank-you gift. Our own best practices show that a reward or gift extends the recognition moment as you purchase and then continually experience and re-experience that gift. A simple in-person message of thanks is the second most memorable option, but an email or electronic thank-you card is a distant last place contender with only 4 percent of workers finding it memorable,” Globoforce said.

Originally published on BenefitsPro.com
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