According to a recent Gallup survey, only about one third of workers report feeling enthusiastic about their role and their workplace. Since a multitude of studies link employee engagement to an array of positive business outcomes, stakeholders are eager to ensure team members feel connected to their employer. In addition to significant performance and productivity boosts, engaged employees are far less likely to quit or resign, which is particularly important as enterprises continue to compete for the same subset of highly skilled workers.
Many organizations offer a variety of work perks to satisfy staff, including flexible hours and generous vacation policies. Yet enterprises frequently overlook one of the most genuine methods to boost engagement: employee recognition. Workers who feel encouraged by stakeholders and recognized for their efforts are more inspired to maintain the quality of performance that garnered praise initially. Below, we pinpoint the key components all employee recognition programs must possess in order to maximize engagement throughout an enterprise.
5 best practices for employee recognition initiatives
#1. Set predetermined goals
Before launching an employee recognition initiative, stakeholders should pinpoint specific objectives. While driving workplace engagement is an inherent goal, leaders need to delve deeper and consider more specialized deliverables such as increasing sales, reducing turnover, or boosting morale. Once these goals are established, initiatives that align with these checkpoints can be mapped out. For example, a company that wishes to increase cross-team collaboration may choose to spotlight employees who go the extra mile to help colleagues in different departments.
#2. Make it authentic and personalized
Effective employee recognition initiatives do not feel like enforced policies but rather natural and well-earned accolades. The criteria for recognition should align with the culture and purpose of the company and reflect its aspirational identity. Similarly, recognition tactics should be tailored to specific worker preferences whenever possible. Some team members may enjoy receiving praise face to face while others prefer reading positive feedback via shout-outs on an intranet. It is not always feasible to customize recognition, but leaders who go the extra mile can further drive engagement and build stronger inter-office ties.
#3. Bring everyone on board
Leaving certain employees or teams out of your recognition efforts is one of the worst mistakes stakeholders can make. Meaningful initiatives provide every employee with ample opportunity for positive feedback and appreciation through well planned outreach and diverse spotlighting efforts. Leaders across an enterprise should strategize to ensure employees across all departments and verticals receive the recognition they deserve.
#4. Don’t cut corners
Enterprises need to go above and beyond the minimum to ensure that workers feel genuinely appreciated. According to a survey by the Society of Human Resources Management, companies that spend 1% or more of payroll on recognition are nearly three times as likely to have their initiative rated as excellent, compared to organizations that spend less than this benchmark. Whether it is upgrading your digital workplace to facilitate heightened recognition capabilities or creating reward incentives, enterprises that invest in worker appreciation are likely to reap the rewards.
#5. Give feedback in real-time
Instead of waiting for a major project to wrap up, recognize employees for their efforts throughout the process. A LinkedIn survey revealed that the majority of employees prefer on-the-spot recognition as oppose to formal reviews. Leaders who show their appreciation in real-time also empower employees to troubleshoot their own processes and gain inspiration from peers who are making significant progress.
Potential employee recognition challenges
There are a few potential hurdles stakeholders should be aware of when implementing an employee recognition initiative, which include:
Any recognition efforts that feel forced or those with palpable ulterior motives are likely to fail. Even if the goal of the initiative is ultimately revenue-driven, make sure the effort is employee-focused by design. Similarly, recognition should be reserved for moments of true progress; when leaders dole out praise too frequently, the significance of the accolade becomes minimized.
Employees left out of the loop
Every employee should receive recognition at some point throughout the initiative. If team members feel they are passed over in favor of other colleagues, they are likely to feel resentful and begin to disconnect from the workplace. It’s particularly essential for enterprises to prioritize front-line workers, who can be notoriously difficult to engage.
Stay up to speed on your recognition efforts and avoid letting months or even weeks pass before spotlighting worthy employees. Instead, real-time feedback encourages team members to keep up the good work and inspires coworkers to adopt similar habits.
How to use a modern intranet to support your efforts
With their multitude of customization features and maximized visibility, a modern intranet can be one of the most useful tools when implementing employee recognition initiatives. Below, we break down some of the best ways to take advantage of your digital workplace in order to spotlight worthy employees:
Give shout-outs on social
Take advantage of social channels on your digital workplace to share employees who are embodying your brands’ values. Familiar interaction tools such as @mentions and #hashtags make it easy to give someone a shout-out and share this praise throughout your enterprise. Colleagues will have the opportunity to weigh-in and congratulate their peer directly on the platform, paving the way for maximum collaboration and knowledge sharing.
Spotlight employees on the blog
Internal blogs are the perfect platform to highlight exceptional employees. Whether you choose to implement a rotating Employee of the Month feature or reserve spotlights for specific breakthroughs, modern digital workplaces make it easy to publish polished pieces quickly. Unlike social, blog content is less transient and can be reserved for recognizing performance that is truly outstanding and worthy of lengthy commendation.
Diversify communications pathways
Modern intranets with high-touch user directories make it easy to search for colleagues based on department, region, role, or expertise. With streamlined communication pathways, employees can reach out to team members more efficiently and express thanks in a personalized matter.
Gamify your initiative
Gamification is one of the most creative and effective ways to upgrade your recognition efforts. Bring out a little friendly competition among your employees by incorporating rewards, badges, and other recognition features throughout your digital workplace. Modern intranets feature customizable badges that can be tailored to your organization's unique culture for a reward that truly resonates.
Client case study: how Ellie Mae turned their intranet into a home for employee recognition
Ellie Mae exemplifies the positive impact gamification can have on employee recognition and engagement at large. After three years of exponential growth, the California-based SaaS company was eager to drive home its close-knit culture and employee-first values with the help of a digital solution. Leaders opted to launch Ellie Connect, the new company intranet, with an emphasis on peer-to-peer recognition capabilities and features that facilitate team building.
In addition to launching an “Employee of the Month” microsite, Ellie Connect also included a custom recognition feature, known as Cheers for Peers. This widget enabled employees to publicly recognize coworkers by posting a message of thanks to be featured on the homepage as well as the Cheers for Peers archive. Within the first two months, over 400 cheers were posted and the feature was voted the best method of peer to peer recognition. In the words of Sara Holtz, the Director of Internal Communications at Ellie Mae, “Cheers for Peers is a solution that has definitely allowed employees to thank teammates near and far, and to connect them to each other via the intranet. People use it for everything—they love ability to say thank you”.
Shortly after implementing Ellie Connect, Ellie Mae earned a Glassdoor “Employees’ Choice Award”, indicating its workers’ high engagement levels and favorable view of the enterprise. This was not the only accolade Ellie Mae received after launching Cheers for Peers; the organization also earned first place in the “Employee Recognition” category of Ragan’s Intranet Awards.
Are you spotlighting your employees effectively?
Stakeholders who wish to maximize employee engagement should look to recognition as an effective means to increase workplace enthusiasm and boost morale. Download our free Guide to Creating an Intranet Employees Love today.