An association for recognition

The entire philosophy of rewards and recognition has changed dramatically in recent years, says Steven Richardson, manager of recognition programs RBC Financial Group and executive committee member of the National Association for Employee Recognition.

The rapid growth of the association proves it, he says. Though NAER is only nine years old, and has about 500 members, just a few years ago there were barely 200, he says. When association was officially recognized as a non-profit organization in 1998, it had about 50 members.

While Richardson himself is not an HR professional, most of the members are, he says. At each conference, it’s common to find 60 or 70 people participating in the orientation session, he says. In most cases they say they are there because their organization is taking recognition seriously now and wants someone who can network and learn from other recognition professionals, he says.

NAER is dedicated to the enhancement of workplace performance through recognition and to making employee recognition an integral part of every organization’s business and people strategy.

The association ( provides information, research, education, best practices, and a forum for networking, and benchmarking to foster the use and effectiveness for recognition. The association holds an annual conference, and this year it is being held in Los Angeles, April 10 -13.

Richardson says that when he meets with other recognition professionals at the annual conference, talk inevitably turns to the challenges of the job, the most common complaint being a lack of funding.

People want to know how they can convince the CEO to increase the recognition budget. But there are always things you can do that don’t cost a lot, he says.

Others still struggle to get the balance right, he says. They wonder if team rewards are better than individual rewards and should they only recognize star performers. “A lot of people now say you should concentrate on the 80 per cent of people in the middle. Because if you can improve their performance by one per cent, that has a significant impact.”

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