Employee EngagementRecognition & Rewards

Recognition That Resonates

CPO Kristen McGill shares how recognition can improve employee satisfaction and the bottom line to boot.

By Debbie Bolla

Recognition programs provide so much more than just a feel-good moment for employees. When done well, they foster a connection to the organization, increase engagement and productivity, and build relationships and loyalty. In fact, a recent report from Reward Gateway finds that for 78% of employees, recognition is a way to make them more likely to stay at a company and for 76%, it’s motivation to work harder.

“Rewards and recognition programs can go a long way in motivating employees, making them feel valued, and fostering a connection to a company’s mission and core values. People want to be part of something that’s greater than themselves. Work can play a valuable part in creating a sense of purpose for employees,” explains Kristen McGill, chief people officer of ZayZoon.

McGill says recognition is a tool that can help managers and leaders amplify what is done well, but also can reinforce actions that are linked to the company’s mission. She says a common mistake is when programs are viewed as an administrative, check-the-box HR task instead of engaging people leaders on execution. “Employees want to feel a connection to those they are making an impact for, their manager, and team,” she says.

When done correctly, it can elevate an employee’s sense of purpose at an organization. For example, teammates at ZayZoon can recognize each other through shout-outs. These words of praise are typically linked to one of the company’s core values: trust, mastery, hustle, and being people-driven. By aligning public recognition moments to the mission of the organization, company culture can be brought to life.

For 78% of employees, recognition is a way to make them more likely to stay at a company and for 76%, it’s motivation to work harder.

Another consideration is there’s often not a one-size-fits-all approach to recognition and it’s even more true today. With four generations in the workforce and a mix of in-office, hybrid, and remote employees, it’s critical for HR leaders to have a clear understanding of individual preferences.

“Not only is it important for employers to have different ways to demonstrate recognition, but also to train their managers on how to recognize the way that employees want to receive praise,” says McGill. “Would the employee prefer a public announcement, or would the attention make them uncomfortable? Managers need to know how to meet their people where they are. Recognition in the workplace doesn’t have to be a grand gesture to be effective, if the form it takes is tailored to the recipient.”

Reward Gateway’s report finds that one-third of employees think consistent and frequent recognition is more important than a 10% pay raise. And McGill agrees. “Today, employees expect more than just a paycheck and good benefits from their workplace,” she says. “They want to feel valued and being recognized for their contributions and efforts is becoming just as important to them as their paycheck.”

At the crux of it, intentional and personalized recognition programs:

  • highlight good work;
  • encourage confidence in employees’ abilities;
  • strengthen employees’ sense of value and belonging within the workplace; and
  • boost employee morale.

The results to the bottom line? “Embracing genuine recognition strategies can have a positive ripple effect from higher employee engagement to overall organizational success,” explains McGill. “Data shows that employees who receive strong recognition have an 89% higher sense of determination and drive, generate two times as many ideas per month, and are 33% more likely to be proactively innovating.”

Tags: March 2024

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