Recognition Programs and Office Team Building
Employee recognition programs are a great way to engage and motivate your staff. They also help create a sense of unity and teamwork. But these benefits will only accrue if the program is well-designed and consistent. This might seem like stating the obvious, but many HR departments don’t seem to understand this simple concept. So what does a well-designed recognition program actually look like?
Every workplace is unique. This means your recognition program should be customized to fit your staff’s specific (and sometimes changing) needs. But it doesn’t mean that anything goes, or that you can use a loose, arbitrary approach. Every good recognition program has certain universal components. Integrate the following four qualities into your program and you’ll start to see tangible results almost immediately.
1. Knowing Your People
It’s simple really– people are different. Your department isn’t a single, unified thing. It’s a group of individuals that you’re trying to mold into a team. An employee recognition program is a tool to help this process along, but good ones take these differences into account. In other words, start designing (or redesigning) your program by getting to know your employees.
Get to know what interest and motivates them. Familiarize yourself with their styles of communication and their long-term goals. Consider how their personalities mesh or don’t mesh with one another. Once this happens, you can use what you’ve learned to build a strong foundation for your recognition program. And this strong foundation will make everything else involved in your program that much easier.
2. The Necessity of Participation
People perform better when they feel included. This simple concept demonstrates the value you’ll create by getting your staff to participate in your recognition program. But while you certainly want everyone to achieve what the program is designed to reward, but we’re talking about a deeper level of participation.
Find out what your staff wants in their recognition program. Ask for their input on how it should function and what the rewards should be. You can even ask what behaviors they think should be rewarded. Then, integrate their input into the design and functioning of your program. You’ll be surprised at how much this sense of agency motivates your people to new levels of achievement.
3. Transparency is Key
Your recognition program needs complete transparency to be effective. Transparency means that your program is clearly spelled out right from the beginning. It also means that everyone knows exactly what to expect in terms of desired behaviors and the rewards that accompany them. Perhaps most importantly, transparency means informing your staff of any changes in your recognition program in advance.
Post the guidelines for your recognition program in common areas and let your employees track all the results. This will lend legitimacy and a sense of fairness to the program you’ve implemented. It will also help your staff maintain the contact with the program they established by participating in its design.
The essence of employee recognition is the association of desired behaviors with specific rewards. In a sense, your recognition program should be a positive form of conditioning. It should create links in your employees’ minds between the behaviors your company needs and the rewards that result from them.
The best way to create this link is through timely delivery of the program’s rewards. Most importantly, staffers should receive the reward within a known timeframe that’s established in advance. Additionally, you should grant the reward as quickly as possible after the goal is achieved. This will cement the needed association and encourage further participation.