Employee recognition: just one piece of the people puzzle

In a constantly (and rapidly!) shifting global economy, your people are your only true competitive advantage. It’s possible to replicate and rip off product, but it’s impossible to replicate people and culture. An engaged team makes execution easy because your people are motivated to learn, deliver, and adapt quickly. An engaged team has bought into your company’s vision and purpose, and wants the business to succeed because it means they succeed (and vice versa).

How do you tap into the power of your people? By making sure your people strategy contains the building blocks to a strong, engaged culture, and using your recognition and reward framework to reinforce those blocks.

Gone are the days when employee recognition was just about acknowledging how long someone has stuck it out with your company, or waiting for a manager to pick an “employee of the month” for any reason under the sun.

Now, recognition and reward can (and we argue, should!) be used to support and strengthen your ability to:

    unite disparate or siloed teams
    help employees understand your strategic goals and prioritise against them,
    recognise and motivate people when they achieve those goals/make progress,
    reinforce the right values and behaviours across the business,
    provide continuous feedback to proactively manage performance,
    identify talent with transferable skills.

That said, recognition is no band aid solution or a quick-fix.

It’s naive to assume that implementing a recognition program will solve all your people problems.

As Ron Friedman writes in The Best Place to Work – The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace, you need the fundamental building blocks of a positive employee experience in place first – without them, anything perceived as an extra (like recognition, rewards, or in-office perks like free food) will either be rejected or received with cynicism by most employees.

For example, if your compensation packages are not up to the industry standard, any recognition or reward will be viewed by most as tokenistic. If the workspaces or tools employees use are frustrating, job descriptions are vague, or managers lack the communication skills or emotional IQ to lead effectively, recognition will do little to move the needle on employee retention or productivity. Each piece of the puzzle is critical (without one, the employee suffers). Recognition is an equally critical piece, and can be used to support and strengthen the pieces around it.

CAPTION: A holistic approach to talent and employee experience means acknowledging each piece of the puzzle is important. Recognition and reward can be used to strengthen and support the pieces around it, but on its own will not solve your people/culture issues.

If you’re smart and intentional with your approach to employee recognition and reward, you can use it to address specific issues and mobilise and engage your team to perform at their best.

Download our latest ebook Why Should I Care to find out how strategic R&R can help your business address the common issues leaders face, and how businesses can use recognition and reward strategically to address these, and to support, reinforce and celebrate change.