The way in which businesses operate has undergone a drastic change over the past several decades. Attracting and retaining top talent has become a highly competitive activity, and challenging especially for organizations that still operate in a traditional manner. In this context, upgrading their traditional employee rewards and recognition programs with modern practices is an important step that business leaders need to take.
Understanding Traditional Employee Recognition Programs
The concept of recognizing and rewarding employees for doing a job well is quite old. Here are a few characteristics of traditional employee rewards and recognition programs:
1. Largely focused on financial rewards or mementos
2. Centered around an annual events such as annual all-employee meet, family day, etc.
3. Focus purely on the performance parameters
Disadvantages of Traditional Rewards and Recognition Programs
Organizations have come to realize the fact that traditional methods of employee recognition and rewarding are no longer proving successful.
These programs have failed to drive employee engagement and experience due to the following reasons:
These programs are typically based on award ceremonies that are held once a year and hence fail to provide timely and regular recognition. Hence, many small achievements of employees and the opportunities to motivate them during the year are completely overlooked.
Traditional programs are completely based on the decisions of the management and the HR, with the recommendations of the line managers, There is no scope for any recommendations or inputs from co-workers.
3. One Dimensional
These recognition programs take into account only the end results and not the effort or the means. Hence, important aspects of employee behavior such as innovation, integrity, collaboration and demonstration of core values of the organization are largely ignored.
Traditional reward programs tend to be unexciting, unimaginative and repetitive. Hence, they tend to become boring over a period of time and may fail to motivate or inspire employees.
The programs are unable to meet the expectations of the employees, especially the millennials who are a growing tribe within the organization. They lack the elements that can help employees connect with the program.
These are the biggest reasons why traditional rewarding approaches are gradually becoming obsolete. Implementing practices such as peer recognition, intrinsic rewards, etc. can help in creating a more satisfied, engaged and productive workforce, which in turn can drive better business results for the organization.
According to the results of a study conducted among employees of organizations still following traditional methods of recognition, 35% felt that their leadership just wanted to fill a recognition quota rather than actually appreciating their efforts.
The same study further revealed that 39% felt that recognition was offered based on favoritism rather than performance.
Adopting Modern Employee Recognition Practices
Today, the world of business is entirely talent-driven. Having an effective reward system in place is essential for organizations to attract, motivate, and retain top talent. Hence, even the most traditional organizations need to adopt modern rewarding and recognition practices to create a holistic, well-rounded, and ongoing experience for their employees.
Modern rewarding practices are designed to be more personalized, comprehensive and social. These practices are designed to ensure enhanced happiness of the workforce by catering to their needs and expectations.
Here are a few of the key modern reward practices that traditional organizations need to adopt:
1. Recognize Frequently/ Instantly
Line managers and team leads should be empowered to reward and recognize their team members for their achievements as and when they happen, without waiting till the end of the year. On-the-spot recognition or spot awards for small or short-term achievements should be a critical component of the employee rewards and recognition programs along with annual or quarterly awards for those who display consistent or high-impact performance.
2. Introduce Peer-to-Peer Recognition
A completely top-down approach to employee rewards and recognition can often make the program seem biased and unfair. Involving co-workers in the recognition process in form of peer-to-peer recognition or peer-nominated rewards can add a social dimension to the entire program. It can also make it more genuine and trustworthy.
3. Recognize Performance + Behavior
It is important to consider the ‘means’ and not just the ‘ends’ for employee rewards and recognition. Hence, employees need to be recognized for their intent, effort and behavior along with the results produced. This can help in building a strong organization culture based on core values.
4. Add Gamification and Social Elements
Organizations can also consider the option of creating leaderboards to list the top-performing employees for a given period of time. It can help in motivating employees to perform at a higher level to get featured on the leaderboard.
Employees today love to show-off their achievements. A wall of fame in the workplace is an effective way of announcing employee achievements. Other platforms such as internal collaboration tools and even public social media can be leveraged for the same.
5. Focus on Employee Needs/ Expectations
Employees today, especially look for personalization and freedom of choice. The employee rewards and recognition programs should provided flexible and customizable rewards such as gift cards and experiences, that enables to pick and choose what they want based on their personal preferences. This can prove to be more effective than the traditional approach of presenting mementoes and trophies.
Traditional organizations should look at adopting digital employee recognition platforms that can come with the requisite features and functionalities. These can help them incorporate modern employee rewards and recognition practices in their programs seamlessly.
It is high time for traditional organizations to start implementing modern employee rewards and recognition practices to build a highly motivated and engaged workforce by attracting, engaging and retaining top talent; and driving a higher level of business growth.
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