Guest Post: Trey Hicks, Visix
Recognition – The “Why”
Two little words that can make all the difference to an employee. Employee recognition is one of the hot topics these days in all business sectors, and with good reason. Studies and reports from many different sources show over and over again that people want to be recognized and valued for their work:
91% of workers say they feel motivated to do their best when they have leadership support (American Psychological Association Work and Well-Being Survey)
- Employees who report feeling valued by their employer are 60% more likely to report they are motivated to do their very best for their employer – American Psychology Association, Center for Organizational Excellence, Workplace Survey
- 75% of employees receiving at least monthly recognition (even if informal) are satisfied with their job (BambooHR)
- 68% of employees who receive accurate and consistent feedback feel fulfilled in their jobs (Clutch)
- 67% of employees are happier and more productive when managers focus on the positive aspects of their performance (Gallup)
- When asked which recognition initiative has the biggest impact on employee engagement, HR pros cited performance awards (33%), anniversary awards (20%), personal notes (10%) – Michael C. Fina
- Nearly one-third of employees would rather be recognized in a company-wide email from an executive than receive a bonus of $500 (BambooHR)
- According to employees, the most memorable recognition comes from an employee’s manager (28%), high-level leader or CEO (24%), the manager’s manager (12%), a customer (10%) and peers (9%) (Gallup)
- Employees who believe their managers can name their strengths are 71% more likely to feel engaged and energized (The VIA Institute on Character)
- 26% of Millennials say recognition motivates them to do their best at work (Staples and about a hundred other reports and surveys)
- 27% of workers strongly agree that the feedback they currently receive helps them do their work better (Gallup)
So, yes – it is important, especially to Millennials, who are entering the workforce in droves and will be the deciding factor in the decades to come as to whether an organization succeeds or not. Yet all too often, there is not enough praise to go around:
- 35% of employees don’t think their employers care about them as a team member or person (Rapt Media)
- 30% of employees report a lack of supervisor support via Towers Watson 2014 Global Workforce Study
- Engagement plummets to 2% among teams with managers who ignore their employees, compared 61% for teams led by managers who focus on strengths (Gallup)
- Teams led by managers who focus on their weaknesses are 26% less likely to be engaged (Gallup)
- Employees who believe that only obedience, predictability, deference to authority and competition with peers are valued are 32% less likely to be engaged, motivated and committed (Vitalsmarts)
As an article from Forbes magazine points out, there can sometimes be the sense that we have become so used to getting praise for even the smallest of achievements (everyone-gets-a-participation-certificate sort of thing), and yet this is where we are. If you want your employees to be engaged (and you do – they work harder and longer, stay with the company longer and come up with more ideas than disengaged workers), then employee recognition needs to become a priority.
Recognition – The “How”
Your employees are not children however, and just paying lip service to employee recognition with automatic praise is not going to be enough. In fact, recognition that feels false or like a manager is simply ticking boxes HR has given them can do more damage than saying nothing at all. The key is recognition has to be:
- Visible – Everyone needs to see that an individual or team has been singled out for their efforts.
- Frequent – There should be a culture of recognition in your organization so that the praise doesn’t seem out of place, fostering jealousy.
- Fair – Everyone has to have a chance to get recognized. Just singling out the sales team for meeting targets kind of leaves people in accounting out of the loop. Get everyone engaged by giving everyone a chance.
- Specific – The praise should be about something specific, the more specific the better. Telling people “nice work, keep it up” gives them nothing to focus on. Even something like “great energy this week” at least tells them something.
- Sincere – If it seems false, or rote, then your recognition will actually feel more insulting than if you’d said nothing at all. Making things specific helps make them seem authentic.
Just as the last two items go together, visibility and frequency also go together. This is where your digital signage comes in. There is nothing that is as visible as your digital signs. Your employees are used to looking at them for anything from the date and time to announcements, performance metrics, deadline reminders – even what’s on the menu at the café. Putting some recognition messages into your playlists guarantees the largest possible audience for them, and they can be scheduled to appear as frequently as you like.
Recognition – The “What”
What should get recognized? More traditional ideas are things like milestones – birthdays, years of service, anniversaries of when they first came to work there, etc. Meeting or exceeding targets is another one that fits comfortably with any company management style. Having employee appreciation days, or team appreciation days, is also something that could have a positive effect, and gets more people involved.
Recognition may be enough, but perhaps some sort of reward is also in order (especially in organizations that use gamification techniques). Many people think of rewards in terms of money. Sure, money – we all like it and all need it. But as studies have shown, recognition is more important than money and throwing a dollar amount at something someone has worked hard on can have the counterintuitive effect of cheapening the praise.
However, some companies are having success with spot bonuses and microbonuses. These are given immediately, on the spot, the moment the recognition is given. These can come from management, but can also be awarded by peers. You could have a pool of small prizes or small amounts of cash that people can dole out at will if they feel someone deserves recognition. Just make sure there’s a simple system in place to get that recognition up on your digital screens as well.
Then there’s simply the modern, adult version of that old school-age favorite – gold stars. Individuals or teams can accumulate points, which can be cashed in for tangible things – like special shirts or hats or coffee mugs, gift cards, or something digital like unique avatars to use on their computers or one-of-a-kind desktop wallpapers.
But rewards can be experiential as well. Some companies have an office mascot that selected individuals get the privilege of having at their desk for a day or a week in recognition of their efforts. A team does exceptionally well? Give them free lunch for a week, or morning donuts, or gourmet coffee. Or make it bigger – a month’s free sandwiches from their favorite deli. Got several candidates who did well one week? Drop their names in a bowl and randomly draw two names who get to go out to a nice lunch together on the company – this rewards them while also fostering teambuilding.
Everyone appreciates more time, so consider giving people a longer lunch as a reward, or scale it up to extra PTO days, or let them come in late for a week. Or you can offer them free professional training and certification so they can improve in their jobs and benefits themselves and the company at the same time.
Being specific can apply to more than the recognition given, but also to the reward. Find out what your people like doing outside of work. If Jenny really loves reading, then a bookstore gift card is perfect for her. If Joseph loves cooking, how about some kitchen equipment or gourmet cooking lessons? If you have a lot of family-oriented people in a department, think about something they can share with their loved ones as well, like tickets to a water slide park or the zoo.
Peer recognition is also valuable. Let them reward each other for good work. They know each other well, so maybe they can even collaborate on a reward (up to a certain dollar amount). This also frees up management a bit. And speaking of managers, don’t leave them out of the recognition process.
Some companies have regular, weekly recognition shout outs to other teams and departments, so everyone gets involved in the process. They nominate who went above and beyond the previous week, and brainstorm a suitable reward together. This not only recognizes those who deserve it, but knits everyone together into a single cohesive unit.
If the rewards feel worthwhile and special, people will appreciate it more. Use your digitals to showcase the possibilities – high-quality photographs of potential rewards can be quite an enticement. Even if the reward is something intangible, like extra vacation days, a picture (like a person relaxing on a white sand beach) can really get them interested. You can even have testimonials from people showing how they used and enjoyed their rewards. These can go up on your social media, which in turn can be shown on your digital signage.
Digital signage is a cornerstone to any comprehensive employee recognition initiative. The screens are everywhere and looked at frequently. They can be used to show praise for a job well done, and to entice others to behave likewise by advertising possible rewards. Before you know it, you’ll have an incredibly positive, productive workplace, where everyone feels valued.
Trey Hicks is Chief Sales Officer for Visix, Inc., headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. Visix offers a robust suite of digital signage software, content designs and meeting room signs for any organization wanting to engage, excite, and inform their audiences.