The Secret to Scaling Up with Recognition

February 23, 2016 Derek Irvine

By Derek Irvine

Recognize This! – Peer-to-peer recognition is an effective and powerful way to scale up behaviors that align to organizational success.

One of the most difficult things for leaders is scaling great ideas, behaviors, or performance- bringing excellence to more people and more places across an entire organization. This is no easy feat, but it can be done with the right culture.

One of the best things a company can do is nurture a culture of recognition. Shawn Achor, writing recently in the Harvard Business Review (and one of our incredible speakers for WorkHuman 2016), emphasized this point perfectly: “effective digital recognition programs can help scale organic praise, have a high ROI, and lead to significantly higher levels of employee performance and engagement, as well as increased customer loyalty.”

To scale a culture of recognition and achieve these benefits requires two important and interacting pieces. One is the set of organic expressions of praise between employees, thanking each other for the work and effort they devote to their work and colleagues. The second is the creation of a work context that enables and strengthens those positive expressions, connecting people through shared examples of what success looks like. A peer-to-peer recognition program connects these two powerful components.

Once scaled, the simple act of recognition becomes a strong driver of business performance, aligning behavior to core values across the organization.

In his article, Shawn presents some powerful research to support this. For example, our clients have demonstrated where a culture of recognition has helped them to improve engagement scores, reduce levels of voluntary turnover, and even improve the customer experience, often for a fraction of the cost of traditional incentives like pay increases. Building on these findings, one of the most compelling arguments that Shawn makes: with a continuous culture of peer-to-peer recognition, “there is no indication of a tolerance point at which the engagement scores return to a baseline” as in the case of pay increases. Click here to read his article for more detail.

For organizations concerned with scaling excellence, and doing so efficiently, the implication is that recognition may not be limited to the same short-term benefits that pay increases are. Research suggests the “bump” from a salary increase only lasts between a week and a month. Instead, the benefits from recognition are likely to be more durable, precisely because of the frequent and organic nature of praise, and the way it creates a more connected and human workplace.

In short, recognition can bring the best practices out of the pockets of your organization, and scale up the behaviors that contribute to organizational success and competitive advantage.

How does your organization scale up and reinforce its own best practices?

About the Author

Derek Irvine

Derek is senior vice president, client strategy and consulting, at Workhuman.

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