Are We Recognizing Employees for the Wrong Things?
In my last post I noted that most companies make at least some effort to have an employee recognition program. But it turns out there is a huge difference between simply having a recognition program and having a recognition program that works.
Here's what passes for recognition at one company - on their anniversary date employees are given a catalogue of fancy gifts ranging from clock radios too expensive jewelry. The employees can choose one of these gifts, with the more costly items available to people with the longest tenure.
I think you can see the problem here. This "Sky Mall" approach to recognition incentivizes raw survival. The oldest and most grizzled veterans of the cubicle wars get the goodies. It doesn't matter that the incentive may be more vacation days, a retirement plan or a Bulova watch, the fact is that what passes for recognition at many companies is simply a retention policy that rewards people for their staying power and nothing more.
In order for a social recognition strategy to be effective it needs to be tied to an employee's effort or quality of output. It's not so much a reward as it is simple acknowledgement that the employee's hard work is meaningful to the organization. To spice things up you can offer prizes, cash or personal time-off, but the main trick is to recognize employees for their contributions to the bottom line.