Five strategies that help create a more fulfilled workforce.
By Derek Irvine
In today’s global, modern workplace, the concept of bringing more humanity, recognition, and social connection to the employee experience continues to gain momentum. Forward-thinking HR and business leaders are realizing traditional performance management methods have become archaic. It’s no longer about just getting more from employees. Rather, it’s about managers and company leaders giving employees more to help them find value and meaning in their work.
A new survey of U.S. workers released by the WorkHuman Research Institute indicates that workplaces that incorporate continuous performance feedback, company-wide celebrations of employee milestones, and diversity and inclusion initiatives, are more likely to establish stronger senses of trust, belonging, and respect among employees.
Organizations can use these workplace practices to create a more productive and fulfilled workforce. Here are five key takeaways to help:
- Employees don’t receive enough praise, leading to a lack of fulfillment at work. According to the survey, 45 percent of workers have not been recognized at work in more than six months. Another 16 percent said they have never been recognized at work.
Employees need recognition tied to an organization’s goals to find meaning in their work. Frequency also has an impact. The survey found that employees recognized in the last month were 29 percent more likely to agree with the statement: “The work we do at my organization has meaning and purpose for me,” compared to those who had never been recognized. This demonstrates how recognition is a critical factor in both motivating and retaining employees.
- Values-based recognition creates better employee experiences. To address an apparent lack of employee recognition, organizations should consider valuesbased recognition, where recognition is given based on an employee demonstrating a core value of the organization. Ninety-three percent of those surveyed at companies with recognition programs tied to core values agreed the work they do has meaning and purpose. At companies with no formal recognition program, this sentiment dropped by 12 percentage points.
Based on data, values-based recognition programs lead to better work experiences for employees. Eighty-eight percent of workers at companies with this type of program described their overall experience at work as positive. What’s more, workers at companies with no formal recognition were three times as likely to say their overall experience at work was negative.
In organizations with values-based recognition programs, employees were nearly twice as likely to believe passionately in their company’s core values. Because they are reinforced in real time through recognition, organizations that practice values-based recognition are much less likely to have employees who are unaware of them or don’t believe in them. Putting values-based recognition programs in place leads to strong return on investment in the form of employee retention and performance.
As values-based recognition has a direct impact on employee experience and company growth, it’s become crucial for HR leaders to thoroughly examine existing compensation structures and determine the impact they bring to employees and their respective companies.
- Employees are seeking more frequent check-ins, which help enhance manager-employee relationships. The role of the manager is fundamentally changing from one of command and control to one of inspire and empower. Managers should become mentors to their employees and teams: to coach, teach, and guide. This is the underlying foundation to make continuous conversations and feedback possible.
Because annual performance reviews rely solely on the memory, perspective, and opinion of a single person, regular check-ins between employees and managers result in employees being more aligned with the priorities and core values of their organizations. According to the survey, employees were 42 percent more likely to agree the feedback they receive is valuable when it is delivered in a quarterly or ongoing process (64 percent), as opposed to an annual or semi-annual review (45 percent).
Managers should also regard continuous crowdsourced recognition as a critical component of positive feedback, ultimately empowering the entire company to recognize great achievements and behaviors. Crowdsourced feedback takes the collective company into account when evaluating an employee’s performance and provides managers with critical data points from employees throughout the year to reinforce the type of performance the company seeks.
In organizations where performance management is a continuous process, employees trust their managers more (41 percent versus 34 percent) and perceive them to be better coaches and partners (78 percent versus 64 percent), compared to employees in organizations with annual reviews.
- Giving matters, too. Values-based social recognition programs are not just about ensuring more people in an organization feel appreciated for the work they do. The recognition experience is also about empowering more people to give recognition in the moment, as soon as quality work is noticed. More than half of all survey respondents (58 percent) believed everyone is empowered to recognize one another at their organizations.
This is encouraging to see, especially considering the positive outcomes of giving recognition and showing appreciation to others. Compared to someone who has never given recognition, someone who has given recognition in the last two months is more likely to love their job (75 percent versus 48 percent), recommend a company (83 percent versus 63 percent), identify as highly engaged (89 percent versus 64 percent) and have a positive work experience (82 percent versus 58 percent).
Managers play a prominent role in employees’ performance and growth, but colleagues are also knowledgeable about their fellow employees’ contributions, behaviors, and achievements. That’s why it’s important to provide employees with the power to recognize, praise, and appreciate one another in meaningful ways.
Fostering coworker relationships is one way to encourage employees to recognize each other. Coworker relationships start with common connections and similarities between colleagues, but can be amplified through company outings and social events, and even company-wide celebrations. Years of service anniversaries, for example, offer the opportunity for an entire company to take part in celebrating their colleagues’ contributions, creating powerful moments of inspiration, gratitude, and recognition.
To help employees find greater meaning in their work, organizations need to focus on treating employees as people, rather than as workers. Older approaches to work, including infrequent recognition, annual performance reviews and lack of ongoing feedback, fail to deliver the same return as more modern workplace practices. That’s why organizations need to understand employees are much more likely to love their jobs when their respective company cultures are grounded in appreciation, recognition, and humanity.
Derek Irvine is vice president of client strategy and consulting for Globoforce.