Turbocharging Employee Engagement: It’s More Than Just Tenure

Posted by on December 4, 2013 in Business Management, Hiring [ 0 Comments ]

employee recognitionEveryone likes to know that what they do is appreciated. Parents learn early on what an impact their sincere praise can have on children. Yet, even as children grow into adults and enter the workforce, that desire for recognition remains. Unfortunately, there aren’t very many companies that really recognize their employees as often or in the ways that they should. This is a real shame, because when employees feel appreciated for their work, they are more likely to take greater pleasure in what they do.

Recent research by Bersin and Associates has shown that organizations that use effective and personal recognition programs consistently outperform those that do not. This isn’t really anything new. Most businesses recognize the need for employee appreciation. In fact, 88% of organizations already have official recognition programs in place. However, there is a huge difference between effective and non-effective programs.

Related: 3 Budget-Friendly Ways to Recognize Employees

Employee recognition is a $46 billion industry in the United States, and that doesn’t include the times when companies simply issue cash or other monetary bonuses. Yet despite this, less than half of employees feel as if they are really being recognized. This is because many of the companies who use recognition programs rely on tenure-based programs which only show recognition for time spent in the company and tend not to focus on specific performance details.

Tenure programs are considered a type of recognition, but they are the wrong type to use if companies want to increase employee engagement. Employees should be rewarded and recognized for their good work, not simply their ability to stay with the company. Tenure recognition is only capable of combating employee turnover, and to be honest, it’s not all that effective even at that. Will a special plaque or a gift card be enough to persuade an unhappy employee to remain with the company when they could be searching for more fulfilling employment?

Related: Morale Booster’s: the Six R’s

For recognition to be effective, it must be three things:

  • Sincere. No one likes to feel patronized, but that’s exactly what disingenuous praise does. Most people can immediately tell the difference between recognition that is deserved and sincere, and recognition that is simply part of a “motivate your employees” checklist. When insincere appreciation is given, it can lead to employee resentment and a lack of respect for management.
  • Timely. One of the major problems with tenure programs is that they attempt to recognize an employee’s good work from over the space of several years all at once. This robs the recognition of its impact. For an employee to subconsciously connect the reward with the act for which he or she is being recognized, the recognition must occur within a short amount of time of the act. Delaying recognition can also send the signal that the act itself was not important, or the employee may not remember the specific performance.
  • Personal. Not everyone likes to be recognized in the same way. Some people will absolutely flip their wig for a chance to take a bow in front of their peers, while others will do almost anything to avoid the embarrassment of public appreciation. Managers should get to know their employees personally so that they can get an idea of what kind of reward would be a proper motivation. Likewise, non-specific recognition such as a general “good job” does very little and ends up sounding more like meaningless pleasantries than actual appreciation.

Related: Employee Recognition For the Multi-Generational Workforce 

The reality is that if managers want their employees to be engaged, they have to engage themselves in recognition. When a manager quickly, sincerely, and personally recognizes good work, then employee engagement undergoes a substantial boost. Businesses need to stop putting their faith in tenure-based recognition and start focusing on the programs that really work.

Bio: Jacob Kache works as a consultant for O.C. Tanner, a company dedicated to developing employee recognition and rewards programs that help companies appreciate people who do great work.





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>