Recognise This! – More and more companies are realising the power of strategic employee recognition to reinforce and drive desired behaviours in the daily work of employees.

WorldatWork just released its 2013 Trends in Employee Recognition report. The timing is ideal, as earlier this week I blogged about theimportance of behaviour-based recognition and WorldatWork’s press release about the new report proclaims: “For the first time in the survey’s 11-year history, programmes to motivate specific behaviour jumped to a top-tier goal, cited by 41% of organisations in 2013 vs. 25% in 2008.”

Indeed, four of the top five recognition goals for organisations across industries are the focus of strategic, social employee recognition programmes. The outlier (and still most popular programme) is recognising years of service. I believe this old standby remains at the top of the list because, even when companies find themselves in the toughest financial straits, leadership believes they must honor the loyalty of employees shown for years of service.

I, too, believe this to be important, but traditional years of service recognition alone will not and cannot drive achievement of the other four goals of recognition as stated by respondents to the WorldatWork survey. It is truly an outlier. Let’s look at the others:

Create a Positive Work Environment – This is foundational to employee engagement. I often comment that leaders cannot engage employees. You can, however, create an environment and culture in which employees choose to engage. Which leads directly into the next goal.

Create a Culture of Recognition – A culture of recognition is very different from a recognition programme. A strategic programme that encourages all the right recognition behaviours and actions helps to create this culture by giving everyone the means and ability to easily recognise others for their excellence in a meaningful way (including in their local language for global organisations). Deep insight into the culture in action through detailed, actionable real-time measurement and reporting also helps management keep the culture on track while empowering all employees at every level to own the culture.

Motivate High Performance – Done correctly – meaning timely, specifically and frequently – recognition reinforces for employees why and how their efforts are meaningful and necessary in helping to achieve a bigger vision or strategic objective. Multiple research sources show this is the most motivating factor for employees to continue to achieve at high level – making progress in meaningful work.

Reinforce Desired Behaviours – The newest member of the “top five recognition goals” list is gratifying to me as I’ve spent the last 11 years of my career consulting with organisations of all sizes and industries on the importance of exactly this point. It’s a key tenet of strategic recognition as outlined in Winning with a Culture of Recognition. Your organisation has already likely defined desired behaviours in the form of your core values or guiding principles. Those should be the factors every recognition moment reinforces across your organisation.

I’ll be blogging again on additional findings in report, including consistency in budget for recognition (still 1-2% of payroll), international programmes, and most desired rewards.

What are your top five goals for your employee recognition programme?

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