Recognition is a topic on the minds of many companies, and for good reasons. Here are a few which you may find helpful to share when speaking with your clients about recognition, helping them understand the importance and impact of such programs.

● Lower turnover rates

A study by Bersin and Associates revealed that “companies that provide ample employee recognition have 31% lower voluntary turnover rates than companies that don’t.” That’s because it’s widely proven that employees who feel recognized at work stick around to go that extra mile for the business they work for.

● Positive impact on engagement

According to the SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey, when companies spend 1% or more of their payroll on recognition, 85% see a positive impact on engagement. That’s because one of the key elements of engagement is to feel valued, which is a key outcome of recognition.

● Stronger business results

The study by Bersin and Associates also reported that companies having “sophisticated recognition practices” are 12 times more likely to have strong business results. That’s because as Glenn Elliott, founder and CEO Reward Gateway, says, “Happy, engaged employees build better, stronger and more resilient organizations.”

A few keywords mentioned in the Bersin and Associates study were “ample” and “sophisticated,” pointing out that in order to have a recognition program that will deliver results, they can’t be just any recognition program, but one that ticks all the boxes. This has been a challenge in the past, and even more so now that workplaces across the country are employing four (soon to be five) different generations of employees under one roof, each with different needs and drivers. You’ve got the millennials who are 18 to 38; then Generation X, born from 1965 through to 1979; baby boomers, those between 51 to 69; and finally, traditionalists, who sit at the very top, at 70 and upward.

Debra Corey

Needless to say, it can be challenging for advisers to pull together a recognition program that meets the needs of each of these generations, but here are some suggestions based on our experience dealing with these challenges:

● Determine your recognition strategy

As with any reward program, the starting point is to answer the question, “Why?” Why are you putting it in place, and what objectives do you want it to achieve? Are you putting it in place to reinforce certain behaviors, drive performance, increase employee morale, recognize years of service? What are you trying to achieve?

● Understand your employees

The other key question to ask upfront is, “Who?” Who will be the recipients of the recognition program? Based on your strategy and objectives, pinpointing exactly what motivates them. This could differ by generation, but could also differ by business group, location, etc. Also, don’t assume that everyone in each generational and/or group is the same, so work with your client to understand the needs of all.
● Create a balanced approach
Balance and choice are key when it comes to recognition, even more so when it comes to a multi-generational workforce. When you understand what motivates your generational groups, you can create a more robust and balanced approach to achieve your objectives. If you rely on one approach, let’s say cash awards, it may motivate a younger workforce, but possibly not an older workforce that may be more motivated by experiential awards, for example. By creating a balance, you are setting your program up for success by having something for everyone.

● Don’t ignore the importance of communication

Advising clients on how to develop a reward program is paramount, but don’t forget to advise on how to communicate the strategy. It’s more important than you think, especially when there are so many different age groups to consider. As each generation grew up at different times along the evolutionary path of technology, they will have different experiences and expectations in respect to communications. Millennials, often called ‘digital natives,’ tend to expect communication to be fast, succinct and fit in with their lifestyle. For them, it might be about connecting through social media (think Twitter and Instagram). Other generations who haven’t grown up with this constantly blurred line between work and home will likely have different expectations — a mix of digital and hard materials could work better here. The trick, as with the recognition program itself, is to deliver a communications strategy and approach which is diverse and balanced enough to appeal to and engage with all generations.

It is absolutely critical to get recognition right for your client’s multi-generational workforce. By answering the questions, “why” and “who,” and focusing on a balanced approach and a strong communications campaign, you’ll be able to develop a recognition program that delivers results.

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