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3 ways HR leaders can build a foolproof employee recognition strategy  

Hannah Yardley, Achievers
Hannah Yardley
Hannah Yardley is a Chief People and Culture Officer at Achievers and focuses on empowering employees and creating a culture of performance through her work with sales, product and people development. Before joining Achievers in 2021, Yardley spent nearly a decade at Deloitte delivering consulting services to some of the world’s largest companies in talent strategy and cultural transformation. Most recently, she served as the global vice president of people and culture, where she helped the scaling organization manage its rapid growth.

Despite concerns about a slowing economy, the U.S. Labor Department reported that payroll employment increased by 339,000 people in the public and private sectors in May. A positive, and arguably, unexpected surge in job growth. One obvious implication of this figure is that there are job openings that your employees could be looking for if they feel their current roles do not fit their needs.

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So, how can HR leaders hang onto precious talent? Now, that’s a question that keeps companies up at night, especially with recent Achievers Workplace Institute Data (AWI) data finding that 66% of HR leaders think the labor shortage is worsening. Luckily, equipped with the 3 steps below, HR professionals can build a foolproof employee recognition strategy that retains talent and takes employee engagement to new heights.

Perfect timing and frequency

HR leaders and company managers need to know how and when to recognize employees to boost company and employee growth adequately. To guide them, AWI’s science-backed study finds that ensuring each team member receives meaningful recognition at least once a month is the secret to improving overall employee engagement and retention.

Employees recognized monthly are 36% more likely than those recognized quarterly to say they are engaged and productive and are 22% more likely to have high job commitment. What’s more, on average, employees recognized at least monthly are more productive and less likely to job hunt.

But one key word here: meaningful. Meaningful recognition is personal, specific and impact-oriented. Plus, timing is everything. Providing transparent, specific acknowledgment right after a job well done encourages employees to repeat that behavior.

See also: Why poor employee recognition can throw wellbeing ‘out the window’

Once you determine the perfect recognition frequency for your people, it’s time to look at your budget and figure out how much needs to be allotted to recognition to see it become a fantastic motivation driver across your entire organization.

Incorporate employee recognition into your company budget

Half of HR leaders whom AWI surveyed report that their company dedicates approximately 1% of the total payroll budget to employee rewards and recognition annually. However, this allocated budget is not always split fairly among departments. From hospitality and healthcare to retail and technology, companies across industries might be dedicating recognition resources disproportionately across varying departments and teams, leading to inconsistencies in social and monetary recognition.

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To ensure that all teams or departments have equitable access to recognition, an employee recognition platform could be beneficial and budget-friendly. A successful platform helps provide a consistent and balanced cadence of employee recognition across all departments and fields within the company.

Though, it’s not all about the money. Employee recognition looks different for every organization; for some, not all recognition needs to be followed by a monetary reward. Here’s where social recognition comes into play.

Harness the power of social recognition

How can you improve your company's Employee Net Promoter Score?
(Image: Adobe)

The culture of recognition has proven that social recognition can mean just as much or more than monetary rewards. For one company, money may be the easiest way to streamline a recognition program, while for another, a combination of social and monetary recognition could be the combination that sets the company apart from the competition and provides the flexibility for the company to customize the recognition for each employee.

For example, a point system is a great way to show that you value your employees as unique individuals by letting them select rewards that matter to them. Consolidating points into a single system allows employees to accumulate a significant balance. When ready, employees can redeem their points for a reward that they want, rather than receiving another generic mug, pizza party or an award that will be used as a paperweight on their desk. Employees can connect their meaningful rewards to their personal contributions and value to the company.

Employee recognition: A necessary workplace norm

At the end of the day, employees today want more than a paycheck. They want to feel part of a healthy, positive work environment and with a company that stands by its values, both in writing and through its actions. Recognition is crucial in cultivating a company culture that thrives on showing employees just how much their work is valued and appreciated. Plus, people tend to work better when they are recognized for their time and effort.