Creating a culture of recognition

Claire Hastwell

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Claire Hastwell

Author

CATEGORIES

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Employee recognition has long been a cornerstone of effective management. But today, as the competition for talent escalates, how organizations value their employees has become more important than ever.

Creating a recognition program is a start — so if you don’t have one, that’s a good first step! — but it’s not something smart organizations do one time and accept as perfect. Great organizations constantly reevaluate the ways they reward employees. This ensures they meet the needs of both their people and the market.

As companies grow, this becomes even more of a challenge, and leaders must rethink the way they add value to the employee recognition experience.

Before we jump ahead, let’s look at what employee recognition means.

 

What is employee recognition?

Employee recognition is a method of support that helps employees know their contributions are recognized and appreciated. Employees want to know how they are doing, and recognizing employees demonstrates what success looks like. Companies recognize employees for going above and beyond, for their achievements, tenure or service, or desired behaviors.

 

Why employee recognition matters

From a very early age, we crave recognition from parents, teachers, and friends. So strong is our desire for positive affirmation, particularly during developmental periods, that we can even perceive a neutral reaction as a negative one.

This continues to hold true as we move into the workplace. Employee recognition helps to:

  • Retain top talent
  • Increase employee engagement
  • Encourage high performance

 

Great Place To Work-Certified™ company O.C. Tanner studied employee engagement and how managers can tailor their workplaces to promote it.

An employee survey included the question, “What is the most important thing that your manager or company currently does that would cause you to produce great work?”

Respondents answered in their own words, providing a variety of responses, but a clear pattern emerged. 37% of respondents said that more personal recognition would encourage them to produce better work more often.

While other themes like autonomy and inspiration surfaced, recognition was the most common theme that emerged from responses. The study showed that affirmation, feedback and reward are most effective for motivating employees to do their best work

See the complete results in the chart below:

 

Creating_a_Culture_of_Recognition1-300x211

 

How to create a meaningful employee recognition culture

Many Great Place to Work® clients, even those with strong company cultures, face challenges when it comes to team and individual employee recognition.

While there is no universal program for every organization, there are five key elements of meaningful employee recognition that all managers can use.

Creating a culture of recognition: 5 Keys to meaningful employee recognition programs

1. Be specific, be relevant

Recognition is more meaningful when it is tied to a specific accomplishment or business objective.

When recognizing employees, explaining what the recognition is for helps employees relate the recognition to their behavior. This encourages continued strong performance.

 

2. Be timely

Recognition that arrives months after the fact isn’t nearly as meaningful as recognition received promptly.

The longer it takes for managers to recognize employees, the less likely employees will see the affirmations as authentic. Make employee recognition a priority and have formal systems in place so you can strike while the iron is hot.

 

3. Recognition comes in many shapes and sizes

There is a great deal of research that indicates people are motivated by more than just cold hard cash. It is also important to note that everyone has their own preference or style when it comes to giving and receiving appreciation.

Get a clearer picture of the primary language of appreciation (in a work setting) of every individual. Then, recognize them accordingly.

Beyond a bonus or a raise, consider customized gifts, taking them out for dinner, or other acts that show employees their reward is personalized to them.

 

4. Little things go a long way

While it’s crucial to recognize major accomplishments, every day thank-yous can motivate employees just as much (and sometimes even more).

Writing handwritten notes, or using the intranet to promote the good behaviors of individuals, can help instill a regular culture of employee recognition. These thank-yous and shout-outs do not have to come from managers alone; some employees may find recognition from peers even more motivating.

 

5. Connect to the bigger picture

Recognition helps employees see that their company values them and their contributions to the success of their team and the company overall.

This is particularly key when organizations grow or change. It helps employees build a sense of security in their value to the company, motivating them to continue great work.

Regularly share news about how the company is striving to reach the mission, and explain how individual employee goals relate to that vision.

Organizations on the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For® listexcel in employee recognition.

Here are some examples of how these winning organizations recognize and reward their employees in meaningful ways:

Examples of employee recognition

 

1. Make it easy for managers to celebrate employees

Global hotel chain Hilton provides managers an annual Recognition Calendar that features 365 no- and low-cost, easy-to-implement ideas to thank employees.

The calendar includes reminders and tips for enterprise-wide, brand, and department recognition programs; appreciation best practices; important dates like International Housekeeping Week; and recognition quotes to share with employees.

It also allows users to add employee service anniversaries and local events. Users can download a print-friendly PDF or import an Outlook-friendly file into their personal calendars.

 

2. Make recognition a red-alert event

When clients of professional services firm Crowe respond to a satisfaction survey with the names of individuals who have gone above and beyond during projects, the survey generates a “Recognize Alert.”

Crowe takes Recognize Alerts one step further with a “Pay It Forward” program. Individuals who were recognized can “pay it forward” to other colleagues who played important roles in serving clients but weren’t mentioned in the survey response.

Crowe shares the names of both Recognize Alert and Pay It Forward recipients in Crowe Newswire On Demand so others can learn from their examples and the individuals feel appreciated.

 

3. Meaningful gestures of gratitude

Health care system Texas Health Resources recognizes employees’ milestone years of service at five-year increments.

At every milestone, honorees receive a beautiful customized celebratory yearbook. When the honored individuals receive their digital yearbook, each one opens with a personalized congratulatory message of appreciation from the CEO, and includes messages of thanks and appreciation from their manager and coworkers, and photos of the employee at work with their team, having fun, and contributing to the mission.

Recognition is absolutely essential in a great workplace, and it doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive.

Ask your employees what type of recognition is most meaningful to them. You may be surprised to find how much simple, genuine expressions of thankfulness inspire them to do their best.

 

Do you know if your employees feel appreciated?

We designed an employee survey  – based on 30+ years of studying employee experience – to measure and track levels of employee recognition, trust, innovation, and more.  Contact us about it today.

Claire Hastwell

As the Content Program Manager at Great Place To Work, Claire helps decode the psychology behind high-trust workplaces using Great Place To Work’s extensive data repository on employee experience. Claire has co-authored noted reports such as “Women in the Workplace” and “The Power of Purpose at Work,” and contributed to Fortune with her profiles of the Best Workplaces™. Her latest report on employee retention strategies draws on the experience of 1.3 million employees to give leaders strategic guidance on retaining their top people. 

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Great Place To Work® Best Workplaces™ in Australia 2024 Evaluation Methodology

Great Place To Work determines the list using our proprietary For All methodology. To determine the Best Workplaces in Technology list, Great Place To Work analyses the survey responses of tens of thousands of employees from Great Place To Work Certified™ companies in the technology industry.

Our survey enables employees to share confidential quantitative and qualitative feedback about their organization’s culture by responding to 60 statements on a 5-point scale and answering two open-ended questions. Collectively, these statements describe a great employee experience, defined by high levels of trust, respect, credibility, fairness, pride, and camaraderie. In addition, companies provide organizational data like size, location, industry, demographics, roles, and levels. Great Place To Work measures the differences in survey responses across demographic groups and roles within each organization to assess both the quality and consistency of the employee experience.

Statements are weighted according to their relevance in describing the most important aspects of an equitable workplace. Survey data analysis and company-provided datapoints are then factored into a combined score to compare and rank the companies that create the most consistently positive experience for all employees in this industry.

To be considered for the list, companies must be Great Place To Work Certified™ and nominate as a company in the technology industry.

We require statistically significant survey results, review anomalies in responses, news, and financial performance, and investigate any employee reports of company incompliance with strict surveying rules to validate the integrity of the results and findings. 

Categories

These organisations’ assessment is based 100% on employee responses to the Trust Index survey.

  • Micro 10-29 Employees
  • Small 30-99 Employees
  • Medium 100-999 Employees
  • Large 1000+ Employees

Great Place To Work® Best Workplaces™ in Australia 2023 Evaluation Methodology

Great Place To Work determines the list using our proprietary For All methodology. To determine the Best Workplaces in Technology list, Great Place To Work analyses the survey responses of tens of thousands of employees from Great Place To Work Certified™ companies in the technology industry.

Our survey enables employees to share confidential quantitative and qualitative feedback about their organization’s culture by responding to 60 statements on a 5-point scale and answering two open-ended questions. Collectively, these statements describe a great employee experience, defined by high levels of trust, respect, credibility, fairness, pride, and camaraderie. In addition, companies provide organizational data like size, location, industry, demographics, roles, and levels. Great Place To Work measures the differences in survey responses across demographic groups and roles within each organization to assess both the quality and consistency of the employee experience.

Statements are weighted according to their relevance in describing the most important aspects of an equitable workplace. Survey data analysis and company-provided datapoints are then factored into a combined score to compare and rank the companies that create the most consistently positive experience for all employees in this industry.

To be considered for the list, companies must be Great Place To Work Certified™ and nominate as a company in the technology industry.

We require statistically significant survey results, review anomalies in responses, news, and financial performance, and investigate any employee reports of company incompliance with strict surveying rules to validate the integrity of the results and findings. 

Great Place To Work® Best Workplaces for Women™ List Methodology

The Best Workplaces for Women™list is determined using Great Place To Work’sFor All™methodology to evaluate hundreds of Certified™Great Place To Work®organisations across Australia.   

Data is based on over 40,000 employee survey responses from women in Great Place To Work® Certified™ organisations across Australia. 

The survey 

The survey enables employees to share confidential quantitative and qualitative feedback about their organisation’s culture by responding to 60 statements on a 5-point scale and answering two open-ended questions. 

Collectively, these statements describe a great employee experience, defined by high levels of trust, respect, credibility, fairness, pride, and camaraderie. In addition, companies provide organisational data like size, location, industry, and the number of women in the workforce and management positions. 

Considerations 

Great Place To Work analysed the gender balance of each workplace, how it compares to each company’s industry, and patterns in representation as women rise from front-line positions to executive/C-suite roles. 
Survey data analysis and women’s representation figures are then factored into a combined score to compare and rank the companies that create the most consistently positive experience and opportunities for all women, regardless of their role or demographic background.   

Eligibility   

To be considered for the list, companies must be Great Place To Work Certified™. Companies must also employ at least 50 women. We require statistically significant survey results, review anomalies in responses, and investigate any employee reports of company in compliance with strict surveying rules to validate the integrity of the results and findings. 

Please note this list is NOT ranked. 

Great Place To Work® Best Workplaces™ in Australia 2023 Evaluation Methodology

Great Place To Work, the global authority on workplace culture, determined the Best Workplaces™ Australia 2023 List by conducting annual workforce studies through our Trust Index Survey™ and Culture Management platform Emprising®, representing the voices of almost 50,000 employees across Australia.

Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organisation creates a great place to work For All™, meaning that the company empowers all individuals to reach their full human potential. Eighty-five percent of the evaluation is based on what employees report about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organisation, no matter who they are or what they do. We analyse these experiences relative to each organisation’s size, workforce make up, and what’s typical in their industry and region. The remainder of the evaluation is an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of the company’s values, people’s ability to contribute new ideas, and the effectiveness of their leaders to ensure they’re consistently experienced.

To ensure surveys truly represent all employees, we require enough people in each organisation to respond that results are accurate to a 95% confidence level and 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results.

 

Categories

These organisations’ assessment is based 100% on employee responses to the Trust Index survey.

For larger organisations with more than 100 employees, we also use our Culture Audit™ tool, asking organisations to share with us their practices, policies and programs to creating a great workplace For All™ and evaluating the approach they take.

Why do you say in one place your national list scoring is based on 85%/15% and in another place that it is 75%/25%?

We are explaining two different things:

1.  The criteria we evaluate

2.  Where the data comes from