Retaining employees within the first five years of service can be a challenge.
In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average job tenure of American workers across all industries is 4.6 years, with the highest levels of retention occurring in the public sector (7.8 years) and the lowest in Leisure and Hospitality services (2.4 years). Millennial workers reported the lowest overall average tenure of 3.2 years.
In light of these trends, it is surprising to find in a recent survey conducted by Accelir that while an overwhelming majority of organizations (91 percent) utilize reward and recognition programs to honor tenure-based awards, only 12 percent include an early recognition element.
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Does early recognition help retention?
More often than not, healthy retention rates are affected by a combination of elements. Recognition is only one part of overall performance management. While a standalone early recognition program may not have a dramatic impact on retention, early recognition’s impact on employees can be far-reaching if part of an overarching recognition strategy.
Here are seven (7) habits of a highly effective early recognition strategy:
- Involve senior leaders – It is no secret that a positive correlation exists between senior leaders’ support for recognition programs and the perceived effect on employee engagement. Actively involve senior leaders in the program. Have them send personal welcome emails, introduce themselves, and generally take an interest in what’s happening throughout the early recognition period
- Encourage Coaching and development – Devoting time to coaching and development is important. Set individual goals, see the results, and continually coach the employee to develop his or her strengths and interests within the organization. The new employee feels valued and is driven to grow their skill set and contributions, adding value back to the organization.
- Create a supportive environment – If you have an achievement-based award system in place, encourage your employees to recognize each other early and often. An award certificate related to your core values or a “welcome aboard” message sent from a colleague are simple, cost-effective methods for getting new employees involved in the recognition culture.
- Engage on a personal level – Technology can aid immensely during the early recognition period, however, a culture of recognition cannot persist on technology alone. New hires always have questions, even if they don’t verbalize it. Be sure your managers are engaging new employees early on. The sooner their questions are answered, the sooner they will be engaged in their work.
- Recognize employees earlier in their tenure — Some 67 percent of HR professionals surveyed in Accelir’s Rewards & Recognition 2014 Trends Report think that employees should be recognized for their first year of service at the very least. Providing some form of meaningful service recognition early in an employee’s career acclimates them to the recognition culture quickly, and experiencing the recognition for all new hires has a residual positive effect on the entire workforce.
- Think beyond the rewards – Your employees need more than tangible rewards to feel engaged and connected to the organization. Rewards only go so far – they also need to feel that their work and contributions are respected. Take every opportunity to praise your new hires for their good work in front of peers, and be sure to offer regular positive feedback.
- Have a long-term plan – Most onboarding initiatives only focus on the first 30 days of service. A 6 to 12-month early recognition period is recommended to provide enough time to set benchmarks, track progress, and implement a development strategy.