We turned to an expert to find out. During the “Get Your Recognition Game On” panel at TINYcon, David Leeds, founder and CEO of Tango Card, took some time to share his thoughts about which employee recognition trends are taking over the workplace.
First and foremost, Leeds highlighted the fact that many organizations are linking recognition to corporate values — which can be rather eye-opening when you see which values are being embraced the most. Companies are also placing a high emphasis on peer-to-peer recognition, which makes employees feel more valued and builds camaraderie. Whenever possible, organizations are trying to give instant digital recognition right when it’s earned — something that is particularly attractive to millennials. Here are the other trends Leeds found:
Recognition Is Actually Underused
With 55 employees, it’s hard for Tango Card to compete against larger corporations when it comes to compensation, bonuses, and perks. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
The average company fails to recognize lots of actions that should be recognized simply because they are not particularly heroic. Remember, a simple thank-you can go a long way. But be careful not to overuse recognition. Be specific so that recognition is authentic.
Recognition Makes Promotion Decisions Easier
Peer feedback has provided qualitative data that leaders can use during discussions about potentially promoting employees. When decisions have to be made about promotions or increasing compensation, executives can look at recognition programs to see who’s most deserving.
The Way Employees Want to Be Recognized Has Changed
Years ago, there was one way to recognize employee efforts: bonuses. Now, there’s been a change in rewards employees want — primarily driven by millennials. Today’s employees want nonprofit options (e.g., a Tango Card for a donation) or they want employers to help make their life outside work easier (e.g., an Airbnb gift card).
It’s Not Uncommon for the Same Top Performers to Get Recognized
Beware of recognizing the efforts of the same group of people over and over again. Leveraging a peer-to-peer program allows employees to help recognize unsung heroes and those committed to improving the company in ways that may not translate to incremental recognition.
If you want to take your company to the next level, you’d be wise to encourage a culture of experimentation so that innovation occurs naturally and frequently. To do that, Leeds said, recognize employees who take risks — even if those risks don’t pay off. Be honest and authentic about failures whether through recognition or an all-hands meeting. Your staff will take note.
Companies that invest in employee recognition programs are much likelier to be blessed with an engaged team that’s happy to come to work every day. No matter where your organization’s recognition program stands right now, remember that it’s always a work in progress and can always be improved.