5 Resolutions for Better Employee Recognition and Rewards

A new year offers a new start. Resolve to rethink “how we’ve always done it.”

1. Help HR pros to stop making assumptions

We know what we know. In terms of employee recognition programs (particularly, how to design them), we know what we’ve experienced ourselves. And that leads to complacency and a tendency towards “the way we’ve always done it.”

In 2012, it’s time to push these assumptions aside and look anew at what your employees truly want from a recognition program – frequent, timely, meaningful and very personal appreciation and praise of what they do that moves the team/company forward.

(For more on incentive assumptions specifically, check out Paul Hebert’s Top 10 incentive assumptions.)

2. Kick annual performance reviews to the curb

The annual review process often becomes an excuse for managers to only give feedback and redirection once a year. There is a role for the annual review, but it must be accompanied by more frequent, personal and timely recognition.

In 2012, commit to revamping the annual review process to give employees the in-the-moment course corrections and praise they need.

(For a good analogy of how annual resolutions stink just as badly as annual performance reviews, check out Fistful of Talent.)

3. Employees in India won’t enjoy the same recognition as employees in Indiana

This isn’t just about the rewards – the “stuff” – though global preferences are vastly different by generation, culture and gender. This is also about how employees prefer to be recognized for their efforts – publicly or privately, as a group or individually, and a myriad of other factors.

The year 2012 is your chance to re-evaluate your global recognition programs to find out how you can best meet the individual needs and desires of all employees, yet maintain one recognition program for better governance and oversite.

(Read this excellent post on how recognition of globally distributed employees can go horribly wrong from my Compensation Café colleague Chuck Csizmer.)

4. Make recognizing progress (not just results) core to company culture

A topic of great importance me is how to recognize and encourage employees as they make progress in achieving the big goals. This is especially critical on projects that can take months or years to complete.

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Look to Teresa Amabile and Steve Kramer for their good tips on how to “Start the New Year with Progress.”

5. Help HR & Finance find the balance for rewards management

Towers Watson recently issued research showing Finance plans to take greater responsibility for traditional HR functions, including rewards management. The report cites the primary reason for this as changing healthcare requirements in the US, but the is a tug-of-war that’s been going on for decades.

Ann Bares, author of the Compensation Force blog, gives an excellent run-down of the tension this creates between the two departments (as well as interesting insight into why the focus of HR is so different from Finance).

Regardless, in 2012 HR and Finance need to find a balance to meet the needs of employees for fair compensation as well as rewards that matter.

What are your 2012 resolutions for your organization?

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.

Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their company culture. As the Vice President of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek helps clients — including some of world’s most admired companies such as Proctor and Gamble, Intuit, KPMG, and Thomson Reuters — leverage recognition strategies and best practices to better manage company culture, elevate employee engagement, increase retention, and improve the bottom line. He's also a renowned speaker and co-author of Winning with a Culture of Recognition. Contact him at irvine@globoforce.com.

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