Personalization and meaning: Making recognition stick

Employees who feel 'adequately recognized' twice as likely to not quit following year, says expert

Personalization and meaning: Making recognition stick

“There's more desire from these newer generations of the workforce to have more meaning behind their work [and] they're also seeking more meaningful recognition.”

So says Kristen McGill, chief people officer at ZayZoon, who adds that personalization is key to a successful rewards and recognition program.

While some workers may enjoy being recognized in a very public way, others may not be comfortable with that, she says.

“It's more about figuring out different ways to provide that praise and recognition, really meeting the employee where they're at in terms of what they would like to see.”

Employees are finding recognition and feedback mechanisms uber important in the conduct of their work, according to one expert.

McGill also says that rewards and recognition programs are crucial to employers’ staffing needs.

“The more that employees feel adequately recognized, they're twice as likely not to quit the following year,” she says.

She notes that there are several statistics showing how it costs “way more to recruit and onboard and train new employees than it is to just retain the ones that you have”.

“It really becomes [a balancing act] of how you are doing the things that you need to keep them engaged, to keep them wanting to stay at your company, and creating those relationships and bonds with the manager and their team that are going to keep them happy while they're there?”

A recent PwC report found that 28% of workers worldwide are very or extremely likely to switch employers in the next 12 months.

How can we improve our employee recognition program?

To maximize the impact of personalization in rewards and recognition, it’s important for employers to have managers and co-workers issue the recognition. This gives the recognition more meaning to the workers, says McGill.

“It's always more meaningful when it comes from someone that [a worker] has a relationship with. So receiving praise from a manager or even a peer is going to go a lot further than the cookie-cutter kind of praise from HR. 

“Everyone knows that if you're getting a note from HR, it's because they have a list of employees and they're expected to do a thing. Receiving that recognition from those that you're working directly with has meaning, because you know that you actually made a difference for those people.”

It is therefore important for employers to enable managers to effectively give recognition to workers. They can do this by giving managers training and tools to do this effectively, she says. That, however, does not mean that the human resources personnel cannot play a key role in optimizing the system.

One thing that HR can do is to provide managers with “nudges” to encourage them to provide recognition to workers who deserve it, says McGill.

Going the extra mile

Sometimes, going the extra mile for deserving workers can also be a way to recognize their contribution to the company. Pulling from her own experience, McGill shares how she worked to support a rockstar employee whose husband ended up in a terrible accident.

“She had to take some time off work as she was spending all of her time in the hospital at his bedside. And we actually sent her a care package, just things that would help keep her comfortable in the hospital while she was sleeping in a chair there and killing a lot of time,” she says.

“In a difficult time for her, we were going to demonstrate that support back in a meaningful way.”

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