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Do Your Recognition Programs Actually Influence Employee Behaviour?

Steven Green
by Steven Green on February 4, 2016

Do your recognition programs actually influence employee behaviour?Communications and Technology expert, Shel Holtz asked his community an important question in one of his blog posts, "Do your recognition programs actually influence employee behaviour?"

It's a great question. While Holtz ultimately concludes that recognition programs CAN influence employee behaviour, he also cites some of the common perils organizations experience when rewards and recognition efforts are limited to annual gala's or handed out in isolation in one-on-one sessions.

Striking the right balance with your recognition program can be challenging, especially since organizations too often celebrate the one-off 'heroic' stories rather than the repeatable, desired behaviours that employees exhibit in their day-to-day interactions with customers and colleagues.

We all know recognized behaviour is more likely to be repeated. Unfortunately, this thinking sometimes trips us up. We put too much emphasis on the reward as an object rather than the recognition. Too many programs put their focus on knick-knacks where the focus is inevitably drawn to the value of the item such as gift card, watches or tickets to sporting events. When the reality of budgets creeps into recognition, it invariably leads to a self-imposed limit to the number of times an employee is recognized.

Do your recognition programs actually influence employee behaviour?Ian Larkin of Harvard Business School emphasized Holtz' point. In a recent study called 'The Dirty Laundry of Employee Award Programs: Evidence from the Field', Larkin demonstrated that rewarding good behaviour resulted in a drop of motivation and productivity and concluded that, "The recognition of hearing you did a good job and that others are hearing about it is worth more than money."

Praise and recognition need to be a part of your culture and should be handed out frequently and genuinely. Employees thrive on being told that what they are doing is worthwhile. So, while points and prize-based reward programs seem like a good idea, they ultimately force you to consider your budget each and every time you recognize a desired behaviour, ultimately resulting in less recognition.

Read the case study on how WSPS engaged their office and remote employees after a merger of three well-established organizations using TemboSocial Recognition. 

WSPS Recognition Case Study


Steven Green
Written by Steven Green

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