Sustaining Effectiveness of Employee Recognition Programs

Organizations today need to constantly work out new ways of maintaining a high motivation level of employees and make them feel an integral part of the organization. In this context, a well-developed and implemented employee rewards and recognition program can play a critical role. However, it is important that the effectiveness of employee recognition programs are sustained over a long period of time.

Why do Employee Recognition Programs become ineffective over time?


Employee recognition is the key to ensuring greater employee engagement and keeping the workforce motivated and inspired. By opting to acknowledge and appreciate the efforts and achievements of the employees, organizations send out a strong message that they are being valued.

However, there are several reasons why a well-intentioned, designed and development employee rewards and recognition may fade over time. Let’s explore the top reasons for this:

1. Changes in Profile of the Workforce

The most common challenge faced by an organization in sustaining the effectiveness of its employee recognition program is the changing workforce profile especially the advent of a higher proportion of millennials in the workforce. The needs and expectations of the newer and younger members of the workforce might be significantly different from the older members.

Over time, as millennials form a significant chunk of the workforce, a program that might have originally developed keeping in view the needs and expectations of the Gen X or Gen Y might become suddenly irrelevant. For examples, an employee rewards program based on pre-paid cards might have been in vogue till about 2015. But, today a mobile-app based digital recognition platform is what is most desirable.


2. Changes in
Business Strategy

Over a period of time, there are massive changes in the business environment in which the organization operates. These changes prompt significant changes in the organizations business model, target markets, globalization, market strategy, digital strategy, people strategy, etc. The employee rewards and recognition program that was once aligned to the original business goals of the organization might not become irrelevant in the current context.

For example, the original business strategy of the organization might have been focused on the domestic market. Whereas, today it might be looking a completely global model, doing business across the world and having presence in multiple countries. The original rewards and recognition program might not be able to cater to needs of a global business and workforce.


3. Changes in Core Values

Core values of an organization can also change over time, They are closely linked to the vision and mission of the organization as well their business strategy. Over time, these may evolve prompted by the business environment. Changes might also be brought about by changes in the top leadership of the organization.

It is critical that an employee recognition program is closely aligned to the core values of the organizations, The recognition should help in acknowledging and rewarding employee behaviors that are aligned to the core values and help reinforce them among the workforce. If the core values themselves change over time, then the recognition program is very likely to lose its relevance.


4. Changes in Industry Best Practices

Massive changes in the technology and consumer behavior over a period of time can also make a well-designed employee recognition program lose its relevance. A case in point is the advent of social media in all facets of work and life. An employee recognition program designed a few years back might have ignored the importance of integration with social media Such a program is likely to have become ineffective in today’s context.

Also, older employee recognition programs might have operated in isolation, without any integration with other work systems Today, it absolutely imperative that employee recognition systems are integrated with multiple work systems such as learning management systems, project management system, customer management systems and workplace collaboration tools such Teams and Slack.


What are the best practices for developing a sustainable employee recognition program?


Faced with the challenges of, sustaining effectiveness of employee recognition program over time, organizations need to develop and manage these programs accordingly. The following are some of the best practices that organizations can adopt to sustain the effectiveness of employee recognition programs:


1. Select the Right Technology Platform

The choice of the employee recognition platform is critical to the entire journey over time. A right technology platform will enable changes to be done to the configuration quite easily to keep pace with the changing business requirements. Additionally, it can help the organization understand the best practices in the industry and advanced features that the should be looking at keep abreast of the changes happening. If the current platform is not flexible enough or doesn’t provide product upgrades, the organization can consider replacing it.


2. Benchmark the Program with the Industry

When the organization implements a new employee recognition program, they usually do sufficient research and benchmark themselves against their peers in the industry. However, this one-time market study and benchmarking is not enough. If the organization is scanning the programs in the industry regularly, it will be able to stay at the top of the trends. The organization could then plan and implement changes in their program proactively, much before it loses its relevance and effectiveness.


3. Keep Measuring the Effectiveness of the Program

Measuring the benefits of the employee program such as its impact on employee satisfaction, productivity and retention is a good way to understand its effectiveness and get early warning signs of any downtrend. Any dip in the effectiveness of the program should be analyzed and acted upon by making appropriate changes in the program.


4. Develop a System to Capture Employee Feedback


It is critical to keep seeking regular feedback and inputs from employees on their experience with the employee recognition system. Such inputs can help in tweaking the program from time to time, keeping it relevant for the employees. Short feedback surveys administered to the employees can help get the necessary data required to understand the areas of improvement of the program.


5. Maintain an Updated Program Roadmap

The organization should keep studying other employees recognition programs in the industry and keep seeking feedback and inputs from its employees. It should look out for any drop in the effectiveness of the program. Based on these inputs, the organization should update the program roadmap regularly to implement the necessary changes in a planned way. The organization should work closely with its employee recognition platform vendor to plan and executed such changes.


Bottom-line

It is impractical to believe that even the most well-designed and implemented employee recognition program can stand the test of time, especially in today’s fast-changing world and can deliver the same level of effectiveness without the requirement of any changes.

The above best practices can help an organization to extend the program’s validity and usefulness over a really long period of time and still derive the benefits of a highly engaged workforce.

Changes in the program are required to ensure long -term effectiveness of employee recognition programs.

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