Organizations today need to maintain high levels of employee motivation and make them feel integral to 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.
Employee recognition is the key to ensuring greater employee engagement and keeping the workforce motivated and inspired. Hence, by acknowledging and appreciating the efforts and achievements of employees, organizations can make them feel valued.
However, there are several reasons why a well-designed employee rewards and recognition may fade over time.
So, let’s explore the top reasons for this:
1. Changes in Profile of the Workforce
A challenge for organizations in sustaining the effectiveness of recognition programs is the growing proportion of millennials in the workforce. The needs and expectations of this segment of the workforce are significantly different from previous generations.
So, over time, as millennials increase as a proportion of the workforce, programs originally developed for previous generations might suddenly become 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. Hence, these changes prompt significant changes in business models, target markets, globalization, strategies, etc. An employee rewards and recognition program once aligned to the original business goals of the organization might have become irrelevant.
For example, the original business strategy of the organization might have been focused on the domestic market. Today, it might be looking a completely global model, doing business across the world and having presence in multiple countries. Hence, the original rewards and recognition program design 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 its 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.
Hence, it is critical that an employee recognition program is closely aligned to the core values of the organization. In fact, recognition can help in acknowledging and rewarding employee behaviors aligned to the core values and 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
Also, changes in technology and consumer behavior over time can 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 years earlier might have ignored the importance of integration with social media. Hence, 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 is imperative that employee recognition systems are integrated with learning management systems, project management systems, customer management systems and workplace collaboration tools such Teams and Slack.
Faced with challenges of sustaining the effectiveness of recognition programs over time, organizations need to 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. In fact, a good platform can enable changes to be done easily to keep pace with the changing business requirements. Additionally, it can help the organization incorporate the best practices in the industry and advanced features in the program. So, 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 an organization implements a new recognition program, they usually do substantial research about what is happening in the industry. However, this one-time market study and benchmarking is not enough. Hence, if the organization studies other programs regularly, it will be able to stay abreast of the changes. The organization could then 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 program on employee satisfaction, productivity and retention can give early warning signs of any downtrend. Any dip in the effectiveness of the program should be analyzed and acted upon by making appropriate changes.
4. Develop a System to Capture Employee Feedback
It is critical to keep seeking regular feedback and inputs from employees based on their experience of the recognition system. Such inputs can help in tweaking the program from time to time, keeping it relevant for the employees. Short feedback surveys of employees can help with the necessary data required to understand the areas of improvement.
5. Maintain an Updated Program Roadmap
Additionally, the organization should keep studying other recognition programs in the industry and keep seeking feedback and inputs from its employees. In fact, 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 plan for necessary changes. Hence, the organization should work closely with its employee recognition platform vendor to plan and executed such changes.
In today’s fast-changing world, even the most well-designed employee recognition program cannot stand the test of time. It cannot deliver the same level of effectiveness without any major 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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