This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012 at 5:16 AM and is filed under employee awards, Employee Engagement Programs, employee recognition programs. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
Sound like a trick question? Well it’s not; it is raised by this article that discusses research conducted by the Impact Achievement Group, a leadership development consultancy. Just when you thought the entire recognition aspect of employee engagement has become a proven employee improvement strategy, along comes “research” that attempts to negate the value of employee recognition programs. Well at least it tries to contradict employee recognition programs as the research download states that they want to “challenge existing assumptions and provide an impetus to further exploration.” They probably should have said “provide an impetus for further clarification” as the research was not very evident nor was it very clear and certainly provided no evidence to support conclusions drawn.
In our opinion this piece is nothing more than a compilation of re-occurring thought on the values of recognition awards to change behavior in the workplace and is more self-promotional than anything else. In addition they include some thought from the works of Herzberg in the sixties as if to authenticate their position, all of which makes for a hodgepodge of creative deductive reasoning that leaves you a tad baffled. Hey, we’re not saying their conclusions are wrong, just a little confusing.
As is often the case, the Impact Achievement Group, who did the research, doesn’t seem to have a clue about the difference between an employee recognition program and an employee motivation or incentive program. They also hang their case on “happy employees” not being productive, but productive employees being “happy.” Not sure where the “happy” came into to picture, we’ve always heard “engaged” as the buzz word of the day. We’ve been designing and implementing recognition or incentive programs going on 40 years and have never used “happy” as the objective of the program.
We believe the issue here is who is best equipped to assist companies in improving employee performance. There are many who claim the high ground on this, not the least of which is the consultant types as mentioned here whose income is dependent on assessment, coaching, training etc., but not awards. Others include those research types who want to research every nuance possible of the employee world. Then we have the communication companies who feel that all you need to do is communicate better and your woes will be gone. Then you have the recognition and award companies who hang their hat on the award as the driving factor. Take your pick, read up on all of them, you’ll find that they all say much the same thing.
If you believe that employee engagement (or happiness) is a behavioral issue (which we do) you might want to consider tackling the issue using the behavior model. In it you’ll find that research, training, communication and measurement and feedback are all part of changing behavior, with positive consequences as the piece to close the loop and continue the behavioral circle. As “positive consequences” include the reward piece, than it would seem that it is kind of difficult to extricate the reward and recognition from the total. Or are we just being too simplistic here?
Let’s stop thinking about whether reward and recognition does or doesn’t work in helping to engage employees and improve performance. There is plenty of evidence out there to support that conclusion. I don’t know if engaged means they’re happy, but it does mean they are performing better than those who are not engaged. What do you think?