Julien Dionne recently had a thought-provoking post on the LeapComp blog including the statement: “In a strong economy, one of the major arguments in favor of incentive compensation is employee retention. During a recession, the main argument is to keep employees motivated.”

I would argue keeping employees motivated to produce at their highest level of effort – be fully engaged employees, if you will – should be a priority in any economy, strong or slow. Company leaders always need employees delivering their best effort, particularly when that effort is fully aligned with company goals, objectives and values as well. A recession only amplifies the need as leaders now need to overcome employee fear, anger and resentment in addition to the rumor mill to get that best level of effort.

Strategic employee recognition programs are a key tool to ensure employee effort is maximized, aligned with company objectives, and reflective of company values. These programs of course are useful sales incentive and similar initiatives, but strategic recognition is far more effective when applied to the entire employee population. All employees need recognition for their efforts and validation that their work is appreciated – now more than ever. If those recognitions are tied to a company value demonstrated or strategic objective achieved (or contributed to), then employees begin to see how their individual efforts contribute to company success. This is by far the most positive and effective way of encouraging repetition of precisely those actions company leaders need from every employee to succeed in this recession.

Another important point for companies who may have recognition initiatives in place, but no true knowledge of what is happening for recognition in every office, every division and even at every manager’s desk. Most companies, especially large global organizations – have multiple, disparate and largely untracked recognition efforts in place. Simply by consolidating all of these programs into one consistent, governable and compliant program, companies can save up to 50% of their current investment in recognition.

Before cutting programs, company leaders should audit what they already have in place and find efficiencies through consolidation. We’ve done this multiple times for clients, saving them 50-70% of their pre-existing investment in recognition while also helping them recognize far more employees for no extra budget spend. Just one example is highlighted in this webinar.

What’s the status of your recognition efforts? What are you doing to ensure employees are motivated, engaged and productive in ways that matter to achieving your company objectives?

Derek Irvine, Globoforce

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