Ok, it is pedestrian to say to anyone reading this post that employees who feel recognized and cared about produce more and better work. We all know that.
And, we know that almost all of you practice employee recognition in your workplace.
But, we also know that not all of you use this one simple practice that can add to the success of your recognition efforts:
Put it in writing!
Not just notes to make the recognition presentation or to send the info to management, but put it in a formal letter or memo, even suitable for framing. Send the letter to all appropriate levels of management, make sure one goes into the personnel file for the individual and then last, but not least, attach a handwritten note and send a copy home for the family to see.
Simple, easy, cheap, and more than effective!
Ever had a job that you thought was really meaningless? One that if you went away tomorrow you think no one would notice? We wonder how many employees go through their daily work lives and wonder just that. It’s certainly not the stuff that fully engaged employees are made of, is it? But unfortunately too many employees go through days like that, and that’s a shame because it’s not their fault. The fault lies with all levels of management that don’t take the time to let their employees know that they matter, really matter to the success of the company.
Simply because when employees understand why their job matters, they will do that job better.
If you don’t know or can’t explain why a job matters, why do you have that job in the first place? Is this one of those positions that is first to be eliminated when times start to get bad? Do you find it difficult to draw any kind of direct relationship between that job function and the internal or external customer that benefits from that work?
Connect the dots for each employee; let them know the importance of that job all the way to the top of the organization and more importantly to the external customer. When the employees know how their performance contributes the overall business and why they matter, they will be more likely to be more involved, get engaged, solve more problems and add more value.
When all levels of management take the time to do this, they will also be in a much better position to recognize and reward that employee for superior performance. That of course sets everything in motion to be able to be repeated up, down and across the lines.
The answer to these questions depends on which side of academia you research, or which book of the moment happens to get the most press. Actually, press on the argument of intrinsic v. extrinsic motivation has died down somewhat lately.
Regardless, you can’t be in the incentive and reward business without an encounter somewhere along the way with someone who takes special glee in telling you that the incentives and reward programs just don’t work. There is almost a religious fervor in their tone when they do. Like politics, it’s a waste of time engaging in the argument as you won’t convince someone to change their mind anyway.
At AwardEmployees.com, we don’t delve too deeply into the psychology of human motivation. We just know it exists, the tenets or which are embedded in any award program ever implemented. Our fundamental beliefs were formed early on by a relationship with Dr. Aubrey Daniels, the world’s foremost authority on applying the scientifically-proven laws of human behavior to the workplace. Using his fundamentals, we have been involved with implementing hundreds of successful reward and recognition systems across American business, large and small. We don’t need to get into the argument, we don’t speak scientific…we just know it works!
For those who need to understand the whys and wherefores of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, and wish to get deeper into it, we offer you two articles that do a pretty good job of explaining some of the differences. One is titled “Why Extrinsic Motivation Doesn’t Exist” by Steven Reiss, PhD and the other “Driving Me Crazy Again” by Aubrey Daniels mentioned above.
Frankly, our perspective is that both of these motivation types are at play in everything humans do, and they both have an effect on the success of a reward program. After analyzing these types of programs going on 40 years….as we said we just know it works!
Who best to reinforce the added value that employees show us every day than one of their peers.
Frankly it’s a tad arrogant to think that any manager has the ability to know everything that’s happening within their span of control at all times. And if you know one that does they either they don’t have enough on their plate or are heavily into micro-managing.
Let’s face it, unless front line and mid-level management is directly involved in the day to day operations of each employee, it is virtually impossible to see all the tremendous performances that go on every day in every organization.
There was a time when companies wouldn’t have dreamed of approving a recognition budget that gave every employee in the company the authority to give that budget away to their peers without management involvement. But peer to peer programs are more prevalent today than ever and are growing yearly. Why?
First, because these programs really work. Clients that run them brag about them. Here’s a quote from Carolyn Stokke, Recognition Program Manager at Bonneville Power Administration who manages their peer to peer program for over 3000 employees:
“We’ve been implementing a peer to peer program for over 10 years and consider it very successful. While other recognition programs have come and gone, the P2P program has stayed in place because it gets our people involved and keeps them engaged encouraging improved performance of all our associates. I have no doubt this program has paid for itself over and over again.”
Second, the right employees are getting recognized because the ones doing the issuance know what’s going on. They know who’s doing the job and who isn’t. They’ll know who is deserving of recognition because they work with them either in the same department or in cross-functional departments.
And third, because they take it seriously and want it to be effective and produce results. They know it’s a good benefit and are glad to have it. They also know how powerful a thank you is to their fellow employees and they want to be the ones giving the thanks.
Your employees have the ability to make a peer to peer program successful. Many managers unfortunately don’t, or won’t. Your employees know what works, and you can rest assured that the money you give them either $25, $50 or $100 each per year will be used wisely.
As the manager in charge, you will be guiding and overseeing the rules and analyzing the results. The programs are transparent and vendors you use for awards can supply you with great reporting to assure that the funds are being handled properly.
Please let us know if we can assist you in planning or improving your peer to peer recognition program.
Knowing the value of your employees and recognizing them for their performance should go hand in hand. It has always been interesting to me that in so many organizations, management hasn’t taken the time to communicate that value to the employee.
While everyone seems to think companies understand the worth of the individual to the company, you don’t often see companies express that worth as a hard dollar number. That wouldn’t be viewed by most as politically correct and probably only mentioned in high level financial meetings. It’s crass to think in terms of employees as just numbers. Instead they are looked upon as assets. Which is of course, a number isn’t it?
To determine employee value, some would simply say that what you pay them determines the value; others might argue that the value is the outcome of their performance. Metrics like “revenue per employee” and “net income per employee” can be combined to come up with “return on employee” which can then be used as a benchmark within an industry.
So why is this important? If you don’t have knowledge of the value of your employee how do you answer their question…
“What should I specifically do to add more value?”
And if you can’t answer that, how can you design and implement a reward and recognition system that drives improved performance?
Improved performance is not about working harder or being busier (although unfortunately too many people in management see it this way). It’s about doing what’s necessary to succeed by delivering a better result with less effort.
Let your employees know their value to the organization and impact on the customer. Then help them formulate the things they can do to improve. When you connect the employees work to a business outcome, their performance becomes relevant. And then you’ve got the core of a successful employee recognition system.