Finding exceptional talent to join your business is on top of every leader's list. To grow and retain your existing talent is equally--if not more--important and an often neglected area of focus for businesses.
Sometimes a little bit of recognition can go a very long way. According to Officevibe research, strategic recognition programs result in a 23 percent lower employment turnover rate compared to companies without one in place...not to mention those companies are 12 times more likely to see stronger business results.
How companies approach recognition programs vary vastly, but the details are important. Whatever your review and reward policy, it most likely is a top-down affair with management praising an elite group of usual suspects.
Most companies model themselves after the same general principle, involving some form of self-assessment followed by a manager evaluation. The first problem with performance reviews? They're a bit two-dimensional--especially in the modern workplace where success comes in so many forms and KPIs shift quarter to quarter. There's a good reason why many companies are moving away from this practice.
It's time to democratize the rewards and recognition process and give the power to your people. A couple years ago, an internal employee survey at my company revealed that we needed to reinvent our rewards and recognition program. What resulted was a peer-nomination process that elicited more than 500 heartfelt nominations from our 1,100-person company in its first year. Here's why you should consider doing the same.
1. By the people, for the people. Asking employees who they think should be recognized lends a sense of ownership to the process. People care more when their vote does, in fact, count. The awards just mean more when it's known that they were selected by the masses and not upper management.
2. Find the unsung heroes. Managers don't always see the nitty-gritty, behind-the-scenes work of the members on their team. I know I don't! Often we only have insight into the end product and not all the hard work that went into making it happen. This is particularly true of your behind-the-scenes employees whose work may be taken for granted. By opening up the process to everyone, the stars across the company will bubble to the top regardless of how loud or high profile they personally are. Bonus: Peer-to-peer recognition is 35 percent more likely to benefit you financially than manager recognition alone.
3. Winners x2. We found that if someone nominated a peer, they really wanted that person to be recognized. So the recognized person's win was also a win for the nominator. This increased engagement throughout the entire awards process, from nomination to awards day to celebration of the winners' prizes. There is genuine excitement in the celebration and honoring of those being recognized when it starts from the bottom up.
4. Expose real connections that last beyond the event. We created a heavily qualitative nomination form that prompted nominators to share specific anecdotes about why their peer should be recognized. We were shocked at the touching, superhero moments revealed in their answers. For those who didn't receive formal recognition, we ensured that these sincere gems were shared with the entire company throughout the year. People also got into the habit of recognizing peers for day-to-day activities and sharing these achievements on our internal communication platform.
5. Create winner experiences that mean something. Sure, people like to display acrylic plaques on their desks. But what if you could create a prize that emulated the nature of a crowdsourced nomination process? We didn't think a standard prize would match the heart of our event, encouraging us to create a winners' circle trip that forged connection.
6. Reflect your culture. Above all, make efforts to have your rewards and recognition programs emulate your company culture. If you encourage an environment of connection and collaboration (we have a culture of "meaningful connections" at LivePerson), an approach like the one we took just makes sense. Examine how you review and reward employees and find ways that you can make the process an extension of your culture.
I'd love to know any interesting approaches you've taken in your rewards and recognition programs and would be happy to answer any questions about how we do ours. DM me at @RobLoCascio.