when is it time to update your recognition strategy? hint: now

By in Appreciation and Recognition Strategies
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Successful leaders understand the value of appreciating employees for great work. Creating a corporate culture grounded in gratitude improves engagement, commitment, and the ability to deliver results. If you have an effective rewards and recognition program in place, it can almost run itself. But don’t get too comfortable—when participation and enthusiasm start to dwindle—it’s a sign that you need to review the program, and you might need to make some changes.

Here are five signs that your program needs an update:

It’s outdated.

You don’t want a rewards and recognition strategy that changes with every new trend or fad. The best programs are built on consistency and the positive association that comes with longevity. But you also don’t want a program that makes recipients feel like they’ve traveled back in time. Make sure you’re reviewing your strategy regularly and gathering employee feedback to confirm the program remains relevant.

It doesn’t reflect current company values.

The award for “perfect attendance” may have made sense when your organization had one office and 28 employees who had to be at work every day to make the magic happen. But now that you have eight locations across the United States, more than 1,000 employees (many of whom consider themselves “road warriors” and travel 75% of the time) it’s not so important that people make it into the office every single day. In fact, many employees don’t. Regularly review what behaviors you’re rewarding and retire recognition that’s no longer consistent with your company’s values or with business operations.

It fails to embrace the current workforce.

Your rewards and recognition strategy must meet the needs of the current employee population. Considering that in less than ten years, Millennials will make up 75% of your workforce, it’s important to understand what types of recognition they need and the awards that have the most meaning for them. But it’s also important to remember other generations. According to a recent article published by SHRM, Baby Boomers prefer formal, public recognition, while Millennials prefer less formal but more frequent recognition. Keep generational differences in mind when evaluating whether or not your rewards and recognition strategy embraces the varied needs of today’s workforce.

It’s outside the budget.

Managers won’t put recognition into practice if it’s cost-prohibitive—for their budget or for the larger organization. Make sure that your strategy takes into account the current financial state of the business. If the company is facing lean times, you’ll want a rewards and recognition strategy that allows people to appreciate their colleagues’ great work without breaking the bank.

It’s not user-friendly.

One organization for which I worked had a form of recognition that (supposedly) any employee could use to appreciate another employee. However, only administrative assistants had access to the electronic file for the “official” certificate, only they had access to the paper on which it needed to be printed, and the high-quality printers which ultimately produced the certificates? They were located near their desks. The original intent behind the peer-to-peer award was that it would encourage spontaneous recognition, but due to the difficulty in getting the certificates created, they were rarely used. To create a rewards and recognition program that’s user-friendly, be sure your tools and resources are easy to find, use, and administer.

Whether it’s service awards that need replacing, or the implementation of a user-friendly way to express gratitude online, be sure that your rewards and recognition strategy inspires and engages employees with meaningful, relevant, timely, and culture-focused appreciation for everything they contribute to your organization.

By liz sheffield
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