The Heart of a World-Class Integrated Talent Strategy

January 16, 2014 Darcy Jacobsen

Yesterday, I blogged about how important it is to have a strong, integrated talent strategy and how visualizing strategies holistically can reshape how you think about them. But I didn’t think it was fair for me not to give you an example–and in particular one that shows the role that reward and recognition can play in powering an integrated talent strategy.  So I asked our designers to sketch out a visualization of what I had in mind.

The infographic below highlights many of the key HR strategies that our clients are implementing—ones that have a significant impact on business. It shows not only all the activities HR is pursuing, but how each of them is strengthened by the engine of reward and recognition.

Of course, your strategy will need to be more than a simple graphic —but you’d be surprised how far a simple visualization like this (or like the ones that have been developed by firms like Bersin by Deloitte and Gallup) can go to helping your business leaders understand the critical integration of what you do. Starting with a visualization is  also a great way to keep all of your strategies top of mind, so nothing is lost or minimized in the shuffle.

Rewards and recognition circle chart

If you have or are considering strategic, social recognition, this diagram is a simple and powerful way to show your organization how pivotal recognition and rewards are in achieving results for your HR strategies.

So how exactly does recognition and reward impact and drive those important HR strategies? I thought you’d never ask!

Engagement: It is no secret that recognition is a top driver of engagement. In fact, according to a recent Aberdeen report, “the number one way Best-in-Class organizations improve employee engagement, which Aberdeen defines as engagement with organizational priorities, not just employee satisfaction, is through employee recognition programs.”

Learning & Development: It is hard to overstate the role of recognition as a way to reinforce a culture of learning in an organization. Because recognition is a pure form of positive reinforcement, it can serve to help bolster any behavior your organization values. In fact, when scholars of organizational behavior identified  the top drivers of learning on the job, reward was one of the most important factors, and one of the top hindering elements was a lack of positive reinforcement!

Onboarding: Recognition also makes one heck of a differentiator when recruiting and on-boarding new employees. One sure-fire way to help employees ramp up quickly—internalizing your values and jumping feet first into your culture— is to nominate and appreciate their work, and to invite them to notice and recognize their peers for doing great work. This helps them to understand how their work and their efforts align to company values and contribute to company goals.

Retention: One of the most measurable and quantifiable effects that companies  see from recognition is a jump in retention numbers—and the huge cost savings that accompanies it. Our own Workforce Moodtracker surveys have shown that employees will consider jumping ship for a company that recognizes and rewards employees, and that programs that hit industry benchmarks can boost retention up to 31%. When you consider even modest accounts of the cost to replace employees,  the business case for recognition based on turnover is astounding.

Change Management: One of the lesser known impacts of a great recognition program is its ability to ease change management in an organization. Whether is something as large as a merger or acquisition, as painful as a downsize, or as simple as new processes and ideas, recognition is a way to reinforce new behavior and make everyone feel like an important stakeholder in company culture. Recognition brings even the most resistant or disparate groups together into a single culture focused on a single set of goals and values. Moreover, positive reinforcement is proven to be a powerful driver of behavioral change.

Succession Planning: I think we can all get behind the idea of great succession planning. I mean, who wouldn’t like to bypass recruitment cost while at the same time making employees feel great about their chances for advancement and their future in the organization? Unfortunately, succession planning can be easier said than done. We don’t always have the greatest tools for identifying the influential and energetic employees who can be the great leaders of tomorrow.  Enter recognition data, which can help you to immediately spot your cultural energizers and linchpin employees—those critical influencers who hold your culture together and are perfect candidates for development.

Performance Management: Recognition data can make all the difference in transforming a stale, unilateral review into an inclusive experience that is powered by real-time feedback from across the organization. A majority of workers suffer from a distrust—or downright dislike—of traditional reviews (which haven’t really changed much in 80 years). But by incorporating crowdsourced recognition data into performance reviews, we can bring in a chorus of creditable voices that make a painful, negative process into a constructive, positive one.

Talent Systems: It goes without saying that recognition data is one of the best insights into your culture and your talent. No talent strategy is really complete without this kind of insight from both managers and peers into how your employees interact with your organization, which values they most embody, and where their greatest strengths are. This is one of the places that recognition data shines the most.

Employer Brand: More and more HR groups are starting to build a strong, proactive plan around employer brand. Not only is employer brand critical to attracting (the right) candidates to your company—it is also critical in supporting the emotional contract with employees that keeps them happily employed and contributing.  Recognition is an excellent way for companies to differentiate an employer brand by showing a commitment to employee happiness and well-being—and to building a positive culture of appreciation.

Total Rewards: Given all of the points above, it is probably not a surprise that a great recognition program powered by company values can serve as the jewel in the crown of a strong total rewards strategy. There is something deeply satisfying about total rewards that includes real-time reward and recognition based on merit and contribution that keeps employees deeply committed to a strong recognition program. More than one client of our company has told us that employees consider recognition to be one of the most important elements of their total rewards package.

And of course, this diagram doesn’t even include the myriad smaller programs such as safety, tenure, health and wellness, and incentive strategies that you might be working on, which are also driven to success by a great recognition program. (I do think once you begin to tap into such powerful talent and culture data, it can help to drive nearly every initiative HR can dream up.)

But however you organize your own integrated talent framework, understand that the more you can show the connections and overlaps among your strategies, and the more you can communicate the business results they drive—the greater your own success is likely to be!

If you enjoyed this post, you might enjoy these companion posts:

Previous Article
What the World Will Learn from Canada About Workplace Diversity and Sustainability
What the World Will Learn from Canada About Workplace Diversity and Sustainability

Canada's workforce is already facing issues of generational change, diversity and sustainability that will ...

Next Article
Culture is a network, not a hierarchy
Culture is a network, not a hierarchy

Companies are recognizing the importance of overlaying strong social networks over traditional hierarchies ...