Employee recognition and its relationship to engagement isn't as direct as we think. Conventional wisdom would make us think that if we give our employees a pat on the back and toss them a prize or two, they'll be engaged, happy and productive. But that doesn't explain why, according to a 2012 publication by Bersin & Associates, "Nearly 75% of organizations have a recognition program," while multiple studies show overall engagement sitting at around 31%. Clearly, there's something wrong here.
Maybe it's the methodology. After all, it's hard for management to track every employee's accomplishments. Imagine putting in extra hours for weeks on end, only to be completely overlooked while your equally devoted colleague gets an iPad. Needless to say, you'll probably feel cheated out of recognition, doing little to boost your sense of loyalty and engagement.
So what about the person who did get his or her due? Well, there's no guarantee that they're engaged either. Many people temporarily improve their performance just to chase whatever carrot there is on the stick that month. The real prize for an engaged employee is the satisfaction of helping the organization – but a reward or two can't hurt. That's why an employee recognition platform is so helpful for increasing engagement while reducing management's workload.
Employee Recognition vs. Employee Engagement
Engagement and recognition are two very different concepts, but when rewarding good work is implemented properly, loyalty inevitably develops. That being said, it's important to understand the difference between these terms.
Employee recognition is exactly what the name implies. It's incredibly easy to show your employees some love for their hard work and dedication. While there are plenty of approaches, recognition can't stand on its own without a strong, consistent reward system to enforce and support it.
Employee engagement is the byproduct of a good work environment, which includes a reliable and fair reward practice. When put simply, employee engagement is the level at which staff is truly invested in the company's goals, and how well they understand them. To an engaged employee, organizational success is the ultimate reward, with fallout ultimately being beneficial to everyone – a sort of "trickle-down effect," if you will. Unfortunately, the process of driving engagement inevitably falls upon the shoulders of management.
Why Use an Employee Recognition Platform?
Ironically, managers and H.R. professionals spend a lot of time trying to plan and co-ordinate effective employee engagement and recognition programs, yet fail to see the benefits of letting staff manage it themselves. Considering the advantages, choosing to use a platform should be an easy decision.
Less pressure on management is a huge plus that comes from allowing employees to monitor and reward each other directly. Not only does this save managers the work of picking high performers, but these systems also give staff the ability to choose their prizes from a catalog. In turn, finding the most desirable rewards no longer becomes a guessing game for senior staff.
A self-driven system sets peer-to-peer recognition platforms apart from conventional methods. Aside from reducing management's workload, these also allow employees to directly congratulate and reward each other. Being on the front lines every day, they can see things that their outnumbered senior counterparts might not catch. What results is a much higher likelihood of reward, while getting employees to bond and feel engaged as a team.
Accurate and transparent data is very easy to gather when using a streamlined recognition system. Keeping track of individual achievements is nearly impossible in large organizations, often resulting in some workers receiving more credit than others. Considering that feeling unappreciated is the single biggest driver for turnover. By using a automated system, organizations can have concise metrics with which to find – and possibly promote – top performers.
As managers and H.R. professionals, it's critical that we do everything in our power to retain talent, which is much more effective when employees feel engaged. There are plenty of workers who have the skills, work ethic and desire to further the business' interests; but without a solid, reliable recognition system, their zeal might be short lived.