Businesses today are understanding the importance of employee engagement more than ever. In addition to enhancing happiness and satisfaction level of employees, it helps in ensuring their long term retention with the organization. This, in turn, minimizes any work disruptions that may hamper the consistent growth and profitability of the business. However, ensuring long term employee engagement is not as easy as it sounds. In fact, organizations need to constantly work out new ways of maintaining a high motivation level of employees and make them feel an integral part of the organization. In this context, a well-developed and efficiently implemented employee rewards and recognition program can play a critical role:

How employee recognition affects engagement

Employee recognition is the key to ensuring greater employee engagement and keeping the workforce motivated and inspired. By opting to acknowledge and appreciate the efforts and achievements of the employees, organizations send out a strong message that they are being valued. This helps in enhancing their sense of job security and satisfaction and makes them feel happy and content with their current job. In fact, recent studies have suggested that employee rewards and recognition tend to influence engagement even more than financial benefits and other perks that an organization might offer.

Challenges to be addressed to ensure long term employee engagement

Despite the direct impact of employee reward and recognition programs on staff motivation, these programs often fail to ensure long term engagement.  Organizations need to  address the following challenges while developing such programs to ensure their long term effectiveness:

  1. Making the program flexible enough to incorporate changes over time

Most organizations are well aware of the fact that they will undergo constant change. Over the years, these changes may render the existing rewards and recognition programs ineffective. Creating a program that is flexible enough to incorporate these changes in a hassle-free manner is a challenge that needs to handled well.

  1. Considering the needs and expectations of new employees

Organizations need to recruit new employees from time to time to replace exiting employees and to take care of growth. Assessing the needs and expectations of these future recruits in terms of the rewards and recognition being offered is another challenge as their profile might be significantly different from existing employees.

  1. Predicting skills and behaviors that need to be promoted in future

Almost every employee recognition program is based on the concept of promoting the most desirable skills and behaviors in employees. In this context, organizations need to predict the skills and behaviors that would be in-demand and would need to be promoted a few years down the line.

Tips for developing a sustainable employee recognition program

Faced with the above-discussed challenges, organizations need to develop recognition programs that can ensure long term employee engagement. For this, it is important for businesses to consider the following factors that can help to maintain the efficiency and effectiveness of the programs even after years of implementation:

  1. Making small changes to the program format on a regular basis

By tweaking the format of the reward and recognition programs after every few months or even a couple of years, organizations can gradually incorporate the impact of changes in the industry and in employee expectations. This will help in ensuring that the employees do not get bored with the same format and feel constantly excited about the changes being introduced.

  1. Constantly communicating with employees across levels

The HR needs to make sure that they constantly communicate with the employees to learn about their needs and expectations from the program. They could receive valuable inputs on what is working and what is not. It helps them get rid of old practices that might no longer hold any relevance for the employees.

  1. Connect employee recognition with career development

Most employees are focused on their career development; by connecting it to the rewards program, organizations can ensure long term engagement from the members of their workforce. Such initiatives can help assure employees that their organization has their best interests in mind, that their work is valued and appropriately rewarded. It strengthens their sense of trust and belonging for the organization and minimizes their chances of seeking other employment opportunities.

  1. Ensure the involvement of senior leaders

The continuous involvement of senior leaders in an employee appreciation program can enhance and extend the effectiveness of such programs for many many years to come. The fact that members of top management are playing an active role in their recognition and appreciation can prove extremely motivating for employees. It enhances their sense of self-worth and loyalty towards the organization quite significantly.

The above guidelines for developing a recognition program can help an organization extend the program’s validity and usefulness of having a highly engaged workforce over a really long period of time.

How to sustain the effectiveness of an employee recognition program over the long run?

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