Top Employee Gift for this Holiday Season isn’t a Holiday Party.

Giving gifts is all about recognizing people and celebrating events, like the wedding gift to close friends who are embarking on a new chapter in their lives. The intent of the gift is to give something of value, something that will contribute to the couple’s happiness. Unlike this wedding scenario however, giving gifts or recognition to employees shouldn’t be about making people happy. It should be about building a strong culture for your organization. Are your employee recognition programs strategically aligned to improve your culture and your business?

Survey after survey about corporate culture has employees requesting more recognition.  And yet, according to World at Work’s 2011 survey, over 86% of companies claim to have employee recognition programs in place.

Milestone Recognition Programs

By far, the most common type of employee recognition is length of service.  Over 96% of employers utilize this type of program.  However, if this is the only recognition that you are providing, you will get nothing but a fleeting smile on the faces of the zombies in your organization. And your ability to bestow service recognition is soon going to go the way of the dodo bird. The latest information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the average worker only stays at one company for 4.4 years! Have you put all your recognition efforts into this one basket?

Recognition or Reprimand?

Some companies add in performance recognition to their programs in addition to milestones.  Here we typically see dashboards measuring the success of a particular metric. After a period of time we can recognize and reward our employees and teams.  There are two ways to do this recognition.  It can be done positively by focussing on the success I.e. 95% customer satisfaction or negatively I.e. 12% customer returns.  However many dashboards are used to reprimand employees for not meeting targets more so than rewarding them for achieving a positive milestone.  Are you unconsciously providing negative recognition to your employees?

Culture and the Value of Employee Recognition

What’s the real objective of employee recognition if it’s not about making people happy? It’s about making them happy so they’ll be productive! It’s about employee retention and it’s about reducing the costs in your organization.

The best way to do this is to create a positive culture.  In order to do this you must understand your current culture and the kind of culture you need to be more successful. Once you are clear about the employee behaviours that will drive your business forward, focus your energies on rewarding these behaviors. Make behavioral reward a daily thing, not an annual milestone like a holiday party or birthday.

If your business needs innovation, hire and reward people on a regular basis for their creativity.  If your business needs customer service, find people who value service and keep them motivated by recognizing every day acts of service. In this manner you will also be using them as role models for others in your organization.

Connect employees to your business

Providing consistent and timely recognition for behaviours that drive better results is the way to connect your employees to your business. Currently, only 34% of organizations have recognition programs to motivate specific behaviours.  Just think of the competitive advantage you can create if you join this group.  Your employees will appreciate the recognition, you’ll be improving your culture and your bottom line results will be better for it.

How can you give the gift of an improved culture in 2013 to your employees?  

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