The short and sweet answer to this question is an absolute yes! Provided the desired behaviors that should be a part of the organizational culture are mapped correctly and rewards and recognition are used to reinforce them.
Let’s take an example – as an organization, if you want to create a culture of honesty and hard work, you might want to formally recognize employees who had the option of not being fully honest in the course of their work by taking the easy way out but decided to stay on the right path even if that meant putting in a lot more effort and maybe even a slight delay in achieving their goals.
Another example could be of an organization that wants to discourage employees from staying in office till late either because they are inefficient or they want to impress their superiors. If the organization recognizes employees who are genuinely efficient – they complete their work on time and leave office on time consistently. While it might be hard to rank and stack employees based on their efficiency, there could be a self-nomination process and the claims of the nominees could be easily validated based on feedback from their managers and the attendance system data.
In fact, our view is that rewards and recognition can play a pivotal role in initiating a change in the organization’s culture. It is really basic human nature to gravitate towards behaviors than giving them the maximum benefits. Organizations should include behavior or value-based recognition in their employee programs in addition to the general outcome based recognition – that’s our recommendation.