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Oct 21, 2015

Building or maintaining a positive work culture currently ranks among the top three goals for recognition programs, according to WorldatWork’s 2015 Trends in Employee Recognition study.

The annual survey of 450 plus WorldatWork members found that among companies where a recognition culture was deeply embedded, and 100 percent of respondents said it had a positive or extremely positive effect on employee engagement.

Getting to a deeply embedded recognition culture

But, how do you get a recognition culture to that deeply embedded state? Here are a few tips:

  • It starts with trust from the top down. The idea behind employee recognition is the company treats the employee with respect and fairness, and in exchange for the gratitude the employee gives it his/her best effort. Everyone from the CEO down must trust this implicit agreement, live by it, and always give it proper deference. Studies have shown that trust in the workplace tramples turnover, and that breaking trust the number one reason an employee voluntarily quits.
  • It must have a written strategy. There are plenty of organizations who recognize their employees well, but at the end of the day fail to get more productivity or engagement benefits out of it. Strategy must be utilized. Strategy focuses your efforts and gives recognition a larger purpose. Companies must decide what goals they wish to achieve from recognition, or there’s simply no way to measure progress. That’s why it’s shocking, according to the WorldatWork study, that almost half of all organizations don’t have a written strategy for their recognition efforts.
  • It must heavily involve managers. With a strategy in hand, managers can better communicate the recognition goals of the company to the employees, and work purposefully toward them. If the company wishes to lower turnover, for instance, managers can emphasize an appreciation of loyalty during service anniversary celebrations, tying the recognition as close as possible to the heart of the organization. A Dale Carnegie survey of 1,500 employees found that the relationship with a direct supervisor is the top driver of engagement – if that relationship is healthy and tuned to the company goals, the culture will ripple down organically.
  • It must be adaptable. Employee recognition is not a “set it and forget it” contraption. As times change, so will your employees and their tastes, as well as the priorities of the company. Your recognition program must be adaptable and flexible enough to continually reflect the changing DNA of the organization. Millennials recently eclipsed all other demographics as the largest segment of the workforce, and each new generation brings with them different lifestyles, desires, and social skills.

Go forth and build

These are the fundamental aspects of building a durable, vibrant, and deeply embedded recognition culture. No matter what your recognition goals are this year, we hope you’ll take them to heart.

If you’d like more tips and best practice methods on building a positive culture and recognizing employees, check out our eBook publications, Basics of Modern Service Awards and Guide to Employee Appreciation.

This was originally published on the Michael C. Fina blog.