This Type of Recognition Means Nothing to Employees

2 min read
Jun 1, 2015

Optimized-iStock_000034316508_Small“Employee of the Month” is such a clichéd employee recognition strategy that it even was the title of a bad romantic comedy. But aside from being a cliché, there’s more research behind the idea that it may not be helpful either. Instead of vague awards for recognition, more successful companies are finding that specific awards for specific behavior are more likely to reap rewards — for both the employee and the company.

According to Bersin & Associates and Aberdeen:

  • Nearly 75% of organizations have a recognition program
  • Only 58% of employees think that their organizations have recognition programs
  • Organizations with recognition programs that are highly effective had 31% lower voluntary turnover than organizations without them
  • 60% of Best-in-Class organizations stated that recognition is extremely valuable in driving individual performance

What these stats tell us is not all recognition programs are created equal. So what are the best-in-class organizations with highly effective programs doing differently?

There’s Nothing More Meaningless Than “Good Job”

Employee of the Month reward programs are empty praise. Exactly what are you being rewarded for? Random affirmations are not tied to any specific achievement or behavior, and so they can’t encourage that specific achievement or behavior in the future. How are employees supposed to continue doing well if they don’t know what doing well means?

Because of this, according to World at Work, companies are moving away from legacy recognition programs and into more specific programs. The majority of companies have some kind of prize for hitting career milestones — 5 years, 10 years, and so on. But have you ever heard of an employee that sticks it out at a company for another year just to get an iPod? Probably not.

Employees Want to Understand Their Place

On the other hand, rewarding employees for behavior tied to company values and goals is far more influential. And clearly, employees that achieve these goals are helping the company as well. What recognition programs need is context.

Employees — particularly of the younger generations — want to be more than just one person working at a desk. According to Globoforce, 79% of employees say recognition tied to core values gave them a stronger sense of company goals and objectives. And employees who have a strong sense of those goals and objectives are far more likely to be able to work toward accomplishing them.

Having a wider view of larger company goals helps employees see where they fit within the overall structure of the company, and it makes their day-to-day activities important. And recognition programs that focus on specific behavior that advances these goals — hitting a certain sales figure, having an excellent customer service resolution — can reinforce these feelings of engagement.


The Effects of Employee Recognition & Appreciation Report by TINYpulse


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