10 Ways Companies Screw Up Employee Recognition

 In Employee Engagement

For many employees, attending the yearly performance review ceremony may not be the most “rewarding” time. It’s usually a few people ( who may not even be the most qualified) singled out in front of a crowd and presented with a generic plaque and a Visa Gift card. Employee recognition is much more than this and plays a vital role in employee morale! The problem with recognition is that many organizations have the right idea and good motives, but they keep missing the mark. It’s not always the employees to blame, but usually the management.

Here are 10 of the most common mistakes companies seem to make and how to avoid them.

1- It’s All about the money

Financial incentives have become quite popular over the years -. fill out this HRA and receive a $50 gift card. When programs become all (or mostly) about the money, employees end up lying and cheating just to get the rewards. These tactics can backfire if employees don’t take the time to fully engage in wellness. Think about the last time you had to be paid to do something you actually wanted to do — I’ll wait. If you have to pay your employees to participate in your programs, you’re doing it wrong! You need to provide a comprehensive program which caters to your employees intrinsic motivations, so they actually want to be a part of it and don’t need to be bribed with money.

2- Too many contests

Public Service Announcement : EVERYTHING DOESN’T HAVE TO BE A CONTEST! While there’s nothing wrong with a little friendly competition, overdoing it might send a bad message. Contests might work well for sales & marketing teams, but might not be effective for all employees across an organization. While the winners are at an all time high, the losers start to feel unappreciated which can lead to a decrease in morale and engagement. Remember, your goal is to reward top-notch performance company wide, not just people.

3- Assuming you know what motivates everyone

Companies invest major dollars and lots of time trying to figure out how to best motivate their employees. But the second they assume that everyone will be driven by the same thing, they’ve failed. Before spending time and money only to guess what works, why not simply ask your employees? I’m sure they’ll have a definitive idea of what motivates them most.

4- Praise only comes from the top

Top-down recognition is a thing of the past. We have since moved from a time where bosses would only praise and reward the employee who was most worthy. Praise should be done at every single level of your hierarchical management structure. Employees should recognize their fellow co-workers for actions or achievements they make throughout the day and week. This doesn’t have to be anything more than saying “Great job!” “Thanks for getting that project completed, I appreciate it!” “I noticed you brought in a healthy lunch every day this week, keep it up! ” This type of praise will foster friendship, increase collaboration, and boost morale in no time!

5- Recognition takes too long

Recognition, like new year resolutions is often put on the backburner. It’s best when it’s delivered ASAP — like yesterday! Waiting til the end of the week is fine, but any longer — well you know what happens with the fitness resolutions every year. Don’t wait for the holiday party to give some of your hard working employees a certificate or a plaque. Praise them with something that’s meaningful and personal. Show the employees that go out of the way for your company, that you too are willing to go out of the way to recognize them. Recognition can be delivered on a daily or weekly basis, as you see fit. The more you show your employees some appreciation, the greater their morale!

6- …and is way too generic

If you want to make your employees happy, stop with the generic praises: “best team player, employee of the month” and start recognizing your employees for specific behaviors and achievements. The more personal the commendations, the more satisfied your team will be.

7- Only focused on major goals

Recognition isn’t something that should be reserved for major company milestones. Celebrate the small successes along the way, especially if they’re aligned with the organization’s mission statement. Think about the person who worked extra hours to finish a project, or even an employee who recommended the office do a weekly meditation class. All results and accomplishments matter, even if they don’t result in company profits.

8- Cruise Control Only                      

There is an art to effectively managing a recognition program if you want it to last. The reason why many programs fail is because the data is rarely tracked; you can’t just set it and forget it. If you want to boost employee morale and engagement, invest in a platform, like Achievers that measures employee recognition. This will streamline the process, provide valuable data, and allow employees to connect with each other in new ways.

9- Feedback doesn’t exist

An effective employee recognition program should be designed to motivate employees so they remain satisfied and more engaged. In order to accomplish those goals, you need to work smarter, not harder. Ever think about simply asking your employees what motivates them? Instead of designing a program based off of your own ideas, allow the employees to get involved. Also don’t wait until the year-end party to do so. Frequently survey and interview employees with simple questions like: “What motivates you? Do you feel appreciated at your job? Is there anything more we can do to show you we value here? How do you feel about the last performance evaluation?” With this data, you can redesign the program to be a better fit for your organization.

10- Recognition is inconsistent

Instead of rewarding employees for generic achievements, it’s crucial to determine the performance and behaviors which you plan to recognize. You can create a system to follow-through and reward these behaviors consistently. Employees have a right to know what they are being evaluated on and receive feedback on how they can improve to receive proper recognition. If recognition is done randomly, employees may feel deceived and managers may show favoritism which can lead an unhealthy employee-employer relationship.

What are some other ways you’ve seen companies screw up recognition?

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