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SHRM: Recognition Programs Target Engagement

Organizations with established employee recognition programs seek to improve employee engagement and morale, a new Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey finds. The majority of employers contended that they are achieving that goal.

In the “Fall 2012 SHRM/Globoforce survey,” released Nov. 15, 2012, in collaboration with and commissioned by Globoforce, a global provider of employee recognition solutions, 82 percent of respondents said that their recognition program had a positive impact on employee engagement.

Moreover, 51 percent of respondents said employee engagement had increased after implementing a recognition program. This is a notable finding, since respondents ranked employee engagement among the top three most important HR challenges they are facing, along with succession planning and culture management.

The survey, fielded Aug. 31-Sept. 21, 2012, reflects the views of 815 HR professionals selected randomly from a list of SHRM members with a title of manager or higher who work for organizations with 500 or more employees.

The top five reasons employers gave for having a recognition program are to:

  • Increase employee engagement (79 percent).
  • Improve employee morale (79 percent).
  • Reinforce company values (59 percent).
  • Reduce employee turnover (34 percent).
  • Create a unified, global company culture (24 percent).

Fortunately, most employers said that their recognition programs achieved some of these goals. In addition to the finding on employee engagement, 72 percent of respondents said that their recognition program helped the organization instill and reinforce corporate values, and 54 percent said it helped them retain employees.

Not all goals and results were perfectly aligned. More than a quarter (27 percent) of respondents said that their organization’s recognition program was not linked to company values; 50 percent said that it was linked.

Employee Perspective

When HR professionals were asked in the SHRM/Globoforce survey if they believed employees were satisfied with the level of recognition they received for their work, three-quarters of respondents said “no.”

When Globoforce surveyed an online panel of 653 employees for theirsemi-annual Mood Tracker survey released June 14, 2012, it found that employee views on recognition were a bit more favorable than HR professionals believed: 54 percent of employees said that they were satisfied with the level of recognition they received for doing a good job at work.

When employees were asked if they would leave their current job for a company that recognized employees for their efforts, a majority (55 percent) said they would. Moreover, Globoforce found that nearly a third of employees (31 percent) said that they had left an employer previously for that reason.

Recognition Affects Business Results

The November 2012 SHRM/Globoforce survey explored the impact recognition has on some key business measures, as well, such as customer satisfaction, profitability and employee productivity. Although a majority of respondents said such measures had stayed the same after their recognition program had been implemented, the findings revealed a few positive signs:

  • 35 percent said customer satisfaction had increased.
  • 30 percent said employee productivity had increased.
  • 29 percent said profitability had increased.

As for the employee perspective, more than three-quarters of employees (78 percent) responded “yes” when they were asked in the June 2012 Globoforce Mood Tracker survey if they would work harder if their “efforts were better recognized and appreciated.”

Doing Recognition Right

On Sept. 18, 2012, EIM, a global provider of sales, recognition and loyalty programs, published a white paper listing a variety of “employee recognition blunders” employers should avoid. “The good intentions of an employee recognition program can backfire if the program is not thoughtfully planned,” according to EIM. To avoid these mistakes, the paper offered these tips:

  • *Tie recognition to strategy. “The program won’t succeed if it’s not tied into a strategy based on your company’s core values and objectives.”
  • *Keep it fair. “Don’t make the mistake of setting unattainable goals for your employees, [and] make sure the ability to earn rewards is equal across all departments and among all levels.”
  • *Get feedback. “Don’t ignore your most important resource. Survey your employees at the start of a program to gauge their wants and needs …. Make contact regularly to measure the program’s effectiveness and change elements if needed.”
  • *Measure results. “The best recognition programs have a direct impact on sales, productivity, turnover and overall employee satisfaction.”

Rebecca R. Hastings, SPHR, is an online editor/manager for SHRM.


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