Employee recognition is a proven way of increasing engagement and works satisfaction. It is an important activity to motivate and engage the workforce. Employees today also list recognition as one of the top motivators for job satisfaction. However, organizations sometimes make the mistake of assuming a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach works for all the employees in the organization. The truth is far from it.
Recognition is subjective; it has a different meaning for every employee. The truth is in today’s times, employee recognition programs are not encouraging employee engagement, but actually destroying it. The reason for this recognition gap is a lack of knowledge among leaders and managers about what actually engages and encourages their employees to perform better.
Identifying the Employee Recognition Gap in Your Organization
The best way to know whether there is a recognition gap is to analyze employee performance. Here are some signs of employee recognition gap –
- Increased absenteeism
- Noticeable fall in productivity
- Lack of participation in office activities
- Lack of socialization or interaction with colleagues
- A generally pessimistic attitude or a bored/unhappy demeanor
- A seeming lack of desire to improve by skipping out on training opportunities
So how do you counter this recognition gap and motivate employees to enhance the engagement? Here are some techniques.
Reducing the Employee Recognition Gap to Increase Engagement
Ask Employees Their Thoughts on the Current Recognition Program
The best way to know how your employees feel about your current recognition program is to just ask them outright. Do they like it? Do they think it is impersonal? What changes would they suggest? Ask them for feedback that will enable the organization to update its recognition program to inculcate these suggestions. This will also make your employees feel heard, which adds to the motivation.
Make it Personal
The trick to successful employee recognition is to make the activity personal and meaningful to an individual employee. This doesn’t mean creating a customized recognition program for every single person. The aforementioned point should give you an insight into what employees expect from you in exchange for a job well done. Someone may just want more flexibility to juggle family and work from time to time. Another person may want that tangible trophy or certificate on the wall. Someone else may just expect a few kind words of gratitude. Make the recognition valuable and meaningful by making it personal.
Recognizing the achievements and contributions of employees should come from a place that is real and genuine; not just a formality that needs to be completed. Be real and genuine when giving accolades to employees; it should not look forced or formal. Employees are fast to catch up on the genuineness or lack thereof of the organization that they work for. If they cannot trust their managers to be genuinely thankful for their contributions, then they will eventually be disengaged from their work.
Use it Sparingly
Too much of anything is never good. The same goes for recognition. If employees receive accolades for every little task they accomplish, the entire exercise will lose its value and importance. Have a recognition policy that clearly states the criteria for receiving the ‘reward’. This will motivate employees to reach that level in their own work, which will increase engagement as well.
Align Recognition with Organizational Values
Organizational culture plays an important role in the recognition gap. If your recognition program does not align with company values, then it can widen the gap and create a culture of disengaged employees. If employee recognition practices defy organizational values and morals, then the management must take immediate steps to correct it. This will set an example for employees that the organization stands by its values and does not allow recognition to stray away from them either.
Rewarding employees for the work that they do ensures them that the organization values their contributions. Customizing recognition to meet the needs of your workforce results in better engagement because they feel like an integral part of the organization. The first step is to understand and accept that your organization has a recognition gap. Recognition comes from a very psychological place; hence, making it worthwhile is very important.