Recognition is a crucial factor in the employee experience; it can take many forms – whether small or grand – but it is also an element that is most marked by its absence. Its importance is also arguably heightened when it’s missing from the employee experience rather than when it is present.
It can also be a delicate balance to achieve. A lack of recognition can leave employees feeling devalued and isolated, whereas too much can be overwhelming and depreciative, and timing is also critical. Getting the mix wrong can result in demotivated and devalued employees.
Participants in the roundtable kicked off the discussion by sharing examples of how recognition currently works at their organizations, with speakers highlighting traditional examples such as daily, ad-hoc verbal acknowledgments or company awards schemes.
However implementing an organization-wide culture of impactful employee recognition requires a more unified approach, speakers agreed, one that is both digitized and in tune with the overarching company culture.
Building the right company culture is a crucial foundation
For two participants in the discussion, creating a new or evolved company culture was a focal point in attaining a new recognition model at their organizations.
One roundtable participant detailed how their company, split across three separate but related verticals, was focused on creating a centralized culture where all employees can feel valued: “Recognition is the most added-value thing we can do for people.”
“We are looking at what we can understand in a common way, but there is a long way to go to build up everything. Now, everyone is a little resistant to working as a single group, but we need to show the value of being together.”
Meanwhile, another participant explained their own challenge in creating a new culture at their organization having recently taken on responsibility for digitalizing its “very new people function”.
The organization in question has a long history in the manufacturing vertical but is now seeking to move away from some of its more traditional processes; HR is one such part of the business, which is now operating in a more centralized model although this is not a strict approach.
“Right now, we found that some parts of recognitions, like leadership recognition for example, are better served on a global level, across the company, whereas you have more daily work at lower levels like meeting targets that is still very much a locally-driven type of recognition.”
Speaking on these points, Heelan added that as many organizations pivot to and adopt a “one company” culture across business lines or regions, it is effective to “encourage everyone to pay attention to everyone else around them, and give recognition for demonstrating those core company values”.
Data and technology can help create a unified approach to recognition
A specific pain point identified by participants who were in the early stages of adopting either recognition technology or broader HR platforms was access to data.
As one participant explained, access to common HR data is “such a simple thing that many organizations have already” but its absence means it’s impossible to have a clear view of the internal HR landscape: “I know how many employees we have but operating in different systems, and sometimes not even in systems; some parts are just paperwork.”
Another participant had a similar challenge in accessing data on employees in the absence of a global HR platform, particularly for recognition purposes, with talent spread out across different regional operations.
While the organization is now in the process of selecting its first global HR technology platform, the roundtable participant also highlighted the next challenge of “getting people to use actually use it”.
“A lot of our HR people in the regions have never used technology like this and it’s going to be a huge change management endeavor more than the technical endeavor.”
Once HR data can be collected from the platform and a “full picture” of the organization can be established, that is when gaps in current recognition systems between the global and the regional approach can be identified, they detailed.
To close the roundtable discussion Heelan offered her key takeaways to participants, highlighting the importance of simplification and unification in building out recognition models to “help everyone feel part of moving forward together while still being unique in the ways you need to be unique locally or regionally.”
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John Brazier is an experienced and award-winning B2B journalist and editor. Prior to joining UNLEASH, John both led and wrote for a number of global and domestic financial services publications, covering markets such as asset management, trading, insurance, fintech and personal finance.