Employee Recognition Programs Decline Slightly

Employers focus recognition on behavior and performance in addition to tenure

By SHRM Online staff May 13, 2011

Employee recognition has declined slightly, according to a survey by WorldatWork, an association of total rewards professionals. The survey, fielded from Jan. 19-Feb. 4, 2011, among WorldatWork members employed in the HR compensation and benefits departments at mostly large U.S. organizations, reveals that:

86 percent of companies used recognition programs as part of their rewards toolkit in 2011, down from 89 percent in 2008.

14 percent reported not having a recognition program.

10 percent eliminated some recognition offerings in the 12 months prior to the survey.

“A 3 percent decline is not that significant considering the difficult labor and economic climate since the last survey was conducted,” explained Alison Avalos, research manager for WorldatWork. “The data suggests that, even with a recession, recognition programs remain an important component of employee rewards.”

The top recognition programs, the survey found, were:

Length of service (90 percent).

Above-and-beyond performance (79 percent).

Peer-to-peer recognition (43 percent).

Programs to motivate specific behaviors were in place at 34 percent of the respondent organizations, up 9 percentage points since 2008. The top tangible recognition awards presented to employees included:

Certificates and/or plaques (77 percent).

Cash (62 percent).

Gift certificates (47 percent).

The most common objectives for having recognition programs included:

Recognize years of service (76 percent).

Create a positive work environment (74 percent).

Motivate great performance (71 percent).

Additional Findings

Among other survey highlights:

78 percent of respondents set aside an annual budget for their recognition programs; the average budget was 2 percent of the payroll budget, down from 2.7 percent in 2008.

52 percent believe that senior management views recognition as an investment rather than an expense.

11 percent measure the return on investment from their recognition programs.

Respondents were from the private sector (69 percent) as well as from the public sector and not-for-profit organizations (31 percent).

Related Articles:

Employee Recognition Travel: Not Just for Sales Staff, SHRM Online Benefits Discipline, May 2011

A Strategic Approach to Recognition, SHRM Online Employee Relations Discipline, December 2009

Peer-to-Peer Recognition Is Good but Not Enough, SHRM Online Employee Relations Discipline, January 2009

How Companies Use Non-Cash Awards, SHRM Online Compensation Discipline, April 2007

Quick Links:

SHRM Online Benefits Discipline

SHRM Online Compensation Discipline

SHRM Online Employee Relations Discipline

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