Recognizing your people in 2020 and beyond may look different than it did in past decades—and truthfully, it probably should.
You have a lot more options now. (And a whole lot fewer excuses!)
In recent posts, we’ve uncovered the ways in which managers and HR leaders are rethinking recognition efforts, as well as some of the companies that are enabling a shift in gratitude and employee perks in distributed organizations.
Research backs this up. A recent HBR article by Babson College faculty offers several insightful examples. For instance, over a decade ago Adam Grant and Francesca Gino found that people are more productive when they experience gratitude from their manager; another researcher discovered that teammates who believe their colleagues respect and appreciate them actually perform better as a group.
With organizations competing for top talent, it’s not surprising that leaders like you are prioritizing employee happiness and job satisfaction. The Rolling Stones famously sang about going without; happily, you and your teammates don’t have to.
Big Data, Meet Big Impact
For those of you who have implemented recognition programs, you might wonder how it’s going. Just what kind of impact are you making? Can you even measure your efforts?
Thanks to many of the startups entering this space, the answer is yes. The majority are offering companies a dashboard admin view, a 30,000-foot perspective that displays who is most active on their platform (in either giving or receiving kudos), and who is taking advantage of the perks they’ve received.
Some have leaderboards that can rank entire departments, and you can sort to see which types of gifts or gestures are the most popular. Monitoring broader trends across your organization will give you an idea of your culture’s overall health. You can easily spot possible problem areas, understand what different groups care about, and acknowledge your early adopters.
All of the stats you’ve been seeking could be accessible and ready for your next executive presentation. But it’s not just about making you look awesome—though we care about that, too—it’s about equipping you to make more strategic decisions. With the evidence that your recognition program is working (or not), you’ll be able to consider new avenues for adjustment or expansion.
Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3
Aside from data inputs, you can and should ask your colleagues for their input. While employees’ feedback may differ from actions taken, it will offer you a window into their perceptions of the workplace.
If you’re not an expert in survey design, a refresher on best practices is in order. This post from Qualtrics offers some helpful advice, including road-testing your survey with a small sample of colleagues to make sure the format you’ve selected works, and that the questions you’ve crafted don’t elicit any confusion. The folks at Pew Research Center have loads of experience conducting research via survey on a variety of topics; here is some background into their approach, as well as ways to word a questionnaire so as not to bias responses.
Avoid Gratitude at Your Own Peril
Apologies for the fire-and-brimstone closing. For anyone who remains skeptical about reward and recognition programs, know that employee satisfaction, loyalty, productivity and retention are all closely intertwined.
Aside from the considerable cost burden that lower productivity and higher turnover place on companies, attracting talented new candidates isn’t a breeze in our internet age, where reviews abound online and word travels extremely fast—often in 250 character takes. If you aim to build a culture that rewards a job well done and promotes a healthy, happy workplace, consider if you’re effectively showing your appreciation and enabling others to show theirs. And remember, having the ability to measure your efforts will accelerate your success.
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