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5 Ways to Advance to Next-Level Recognition

When you first rolled out your recognition program, you were probably focused on establishing a baseline, ramping up utilization, and building recognition into your cultural fabric.

That is how most programs begin, and the impacts are usually felt quickly – with boosts in key basic metrics such as employee engagement, employee retention, and employee satisfaction. Having established recognition as a cultural pillar for your organization, let’s advance your program to the next level.

This is a smart strategy. At this stage, even incremental upgrades can make your program much more impactful. Recognition can be one of your most powerful tools for advanced culture management, change management, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I), and environmental, social and governance (ESG), and small tweaks at this stage can have an outsized impact.

How can you increase the ROI of your investment and shift your recognition program into the next gear? Here are five ideas for building a more advanced recognition program:

1. Add services to maximize the impact of your program.

A next-level recognition program should also consider adding in any untapped components of the Workhuman Cloud®.

Activating the suite of solutions will help drive the platform’s adoption and help build affinity, trust, and feelings of community across your organization. According to research by HP, 83% of employees in the U.S. say their work family makes them feel happier, and 69% say they are more successful at work because of those workplace connections.

The Workhuman Cloud is bigger than the sum of its parts – with each component working to strengthen the others. If you are not using the following solutions, you will want to talk with your customer service team about the power of a complete “thank, talk, celebrate, listen” framework.

Service Milestones®: Notify team members and managers automatically about upcoming milestones, and invite them to contribute their memories and encouragement in a highly personalized, multimedia anniversary experience that reminds employees why they stay.

Life Events®: Invite employees to bring their whole selves to work, feeling acceptance and belonging as colleagues are invited to congratulate them on events such as birthdays, weddings, adoptions, graduations, new homes, recovery from illness, and other meaningful moments.

Community Celebrations®: Bring people together from across the organization to celebrate shared interests, events, and milestones – from volunteer projects and CSR initiatives to employee resource groups, cultural events, and more.

Moodtracker®: Moodtracker gives you realtime, low-friction access to employee sentiment, behavior, and feedback through integrated pulse surveys. Use it to establish cultural trend lines or to get instant insight into acute issues in your organization.

Conversations®: Conversations gives organizations a structure for a cooperative, multidirectional flow of feedback, check-ins, and interactions that establishes a culture of autonomy, growth, and productivity in your organization.

2. Customize Workhuman to your organizational needs.

The Workhuman Cloud is powerful as soon as you deploy it – but revisiting a mature program can reveal new opportunities for fine-tuning, to align even more closely to the needs of your organization.

Here are just some of the ways you might consider customizing your solution and using your data:

Expand language support: Expand the platform to connect with employees in their native language. Workhuman has full functionality in 34 languages, including right-to-left support.

Rebrand the solution: Now that recognition is more established in your organization, you may wish to refresh or rebrand your platform’s look and feel. Match your existing culture more intuitively or tweak it to support an upcoming change to your brand identity.

Additional programs: Take this opportunity to add new capabilities to the program, such as incorporating new parts of the Workhuman Cloud or expanding the existing programs to new populations within your company. (See below.)

Program changes: You may also choose this time to make changes to the governance or logistics of your recognition program. Consider lowering thresholds for approvals, such as turning on new features, now that your workers have become more familiar with the platform.

Thought leadership: This is also a good time to consider how you can employ your unique, custom datasets to support your organizational goals. Consider partnering with Workhuman on thought leadership and research to maximize recognition and show your commitment to the employee experience. Companies that are known pioneers in this area have well-earned reputations as strong employer brands.

Company-specific analytics: You can also use your data internally to optimize your investment in recognition and show its impact by mapping recognition to other data and company objectives. Work with our Workhuman research team to set up these important dashboards to show the impact of your hard work.

3. Use recognition data to drive forward DE&I and ESG goals.

Two areas most organizations are focused on are DE&I and ESG. Companies that can demonstrate a strong record in these important areas of corporate responsibility and citizenship are not only attracting new candidates – they are attracting new shareholders, partners, vendors, and customers.

Being appreciated by co-workers is a powerful driver of belonging. In fact, our analysis has shown that when employees received four (vs. two) awards in the ninety days previous, their favorable responses to questions about inclusion and diversity were likely to rise from 75% to 80%.

Entry-level programs help by using recognition to encourage and reward these activities. But next-level programs can go even further – using recognition data to help to quantify, measure, and manage progress against your DE&I or ESG objectives. Use recognition as a way to flag and address micro-aggressions and biases, and use Community Celebrations to celebrate the work ERGs are doing toward inclusion and equity.

Ask your customer service team how you can leverage Workhuman data to support your DE&I and ESG goals – or work with our research team on project that could push your objectives forward.

4. Recruit program and change management ambassadors.

Recognition is also a powerful arrow in the quiver of your culture and change management efforts. Research has long shown the importance of social networks (relationships, not tweets) in organizations.

Many companies lack the tools to be able to identify and map informal networks and connections among workers, never mind encouraging those connections to grow. Your social recognition platform makes it easy, allowing you to better visualize and understand what is really happening by looking at how people are connected through gratitude and celebration.

Your informal hierarchy will rarely match your formal hierarchy. There will always be employees who are powerful influencers in your organization, what McKinsey has called “linchpin” employees. This is your way to find them.

Identifying and activating these employees can add a powerful tool to your culture management toolbox. You will be in a better position to identify and retain any key internal influencers whose departure could otherwise put your morale in jeopardy. You can also put their influence to work in support of change and culture management goals – bringing them on board early to help socialize new ideas.

Invite them to become program ambassadors. Our Strategy and Consulting team has created templates for you to use to invite and engage program ambassadors – ask for them to help drive awareness of and adoption of recognition in your organization.

5. Create opportunities for everyone-to-everyone recognition.

One key element of a next-level recognition program that some companies omit from their basic-level program is the implementation of peer awards.

As you expand to a more advanced level of recognition, consider expanding the scope of your program. Give your entire company access to the program. Roll recognition out to new populations in your company who were not previously onboarded such as satellite divisions, overseas teams, offline or field workers, part-time employees, interns, or contractors. This can expand relationships with and among these groups and draw them closer to your company culture and values.

According to Professor Paul J. Zak, writing in the Harvard Business Review, “Neuroscience shows that recognition has the largest effect on trust when it occurs immediately after a goal has been met, when it comes from peers, and when it’s tangible, unexpected, personal, and public.”

Good peer-to-peer recognition also has these benefits:

  • Peer-to-peer awards eliminate a potential single point of failure if managers are less effective at noticing or rewarding great work.
  • Peers are often witness to more of a worker’s performance, with a closer vantage point that allows them to see and appreciate good work.
  • Allowing peer awards boosts feelings of inclusion in a cohort and builds lateral connections, trust, and affinity in the organization.
  • Studies show that giving can be as impactful for employees as receiving recognition. Opening up peer awards allows employees to reap the benefits of expressing gratitude and giving recognition.
  • More engagement by peers in the recognition platform can also help to increase their congratulations of other awards and milestones, maximizing the impact of those recognitions.
  • Peer-to-peer recognition serves as a kind of organizational MRI – giving you more data points that help to visualize connections and see how work gets done in your organization.

Ready to take your recognition program to the next level? We can connect you with one of our program design consultants to assess your current program and advise on how to maximize your future impact.