Understanding the role of employee recognition program in driving cultural change

Modern workplaces are significantly different from what they used to be only a few decades back. With employee engagement and motivation becoming the new focus areas, organizations today are facing the need to develop a culture that helps in promoting these twin drivers of business success. However, making desired employee behavior an integral part of organization culture often proves challenging, especially if the organizational culture is not aligned with other programs for employee engagement, especially employee recognition. Organizations need to focus more on such programs that can drive cultural change and create engaging and collaborative workspaces.

How organization culture influences employee engagement

Organization culture can be often trivialized as a set of social behaviors and activities that employees indulge in at the workplace. This is mainly due to the fact that culture is not tangible and is about the kind of collective experience of employees while interacting and collaborating with their co-workers. In fact, culture can be defined as the glue that holds a workplace together by enabling transparent two-way communication, recognition, and feedback. These factors help in improving employee engagement as they enjoy the freedom to express their ideas and opinions in an unhindered manner and feel truly valued for their efforts and achievements.

Significance of recognition in driving cultural change

Setting up rewards for employees to motivate them to repeat desirable behaviors plays a key role in initiating cultural change within an organization. By recognizing the efforts or achievements of employees responsible for improving the overall work environment or even improving business reputation, organizations can send out a positive message to the entire workforce. In addition, an employee reward program helps in establishing the standards for expected as well as acceptable workplace behavior from employees. The employees naturally feel motivated to emulate the performance efficiency, skills, and behavior that their peers have appreciated and rewarded for. When implemented in the right manner, an efficient employee recognition program can enhance the overall happiness and satisfaction level of the workforce, which in turn can prove critical for creating a positive organizational culture.

Tips for driving cultural change through recognition

Getting the organization culture right is an ongoing process thanks to the constant changes that organizations go through. However, by aligning culture with the values, business objectives, and recognition programs, organizations can get the desired results faster and in a more effective manner. Discussed below are some key aspects that organizations need to focus on while trying to drive cultural change through recognition:

Ensure the involvement of the top management

In order to implement any lasting change within an organization, it requires the complete support and encouragement of the top management. This is true even in case of building a culture based on recognition. The involvement of business leaders at various levels and types of employee recognition activities can have a major impact. Getting the support of the management makes the entire process much more effective as the employees feel inspired to become part of something that the top managers show an interest in.

Let the employees have their say

Listing the views and opinions of the employees with respect to the reward and recognition being offered is essential to bring about the desired change in organization culture. Such initiatives, help in assuring the employees that their opinion is valued and in turn, results in better engagement. Free discussions about employee recognition also provide the management with insights about the current perception of the organizational culture among the employees and the changes they would like to bring about.

Encourage managers to practice what they preach

One of the key aspects of driving cultural change is to encourage managers and supervisors to practice what they preach. This is especially true in terms of recognizing and appreciating the hard work and achievements of peers and juniors. Watching their superiors praising their co-workers for their hard work and contribution towards organizational growth is more likely to motivate them to do the same than any instructions from the managers. Even simple measures like leaving a note of appreciation on the desks of the employees can promote a culture of appreciation and collaboration.

Add an element of fun to the process

Employees tend to get bored over time, which is why it is important to make the whole process exciting and fun-filled. This can be ensured by opting for creative employee recognition ideas that are both innovative and fun. It is basic human nature to feel attracted to something that tends to make them feel relaxed and happy. By adding a fun element to the employee recognition programs, organizations can inspire their employees to embrace cultural change more effectively.

There is little doubt about the fact that driving cultural change can provide long-term benefits for an organization. The implementation of an effective employee recognition program can drive such change over time.

Walking the Talk – Steps organizations need to take to convert core values into tangible behaviors

Walking the Talk – Steps organizations need to take to convert core values into tangible behaviors

In most organizations, core values are plastered across the walls of the workplace with the belief that it can help in building a strong team foundation and an equally strong organization culture. However, just talking about the core values of the organization or expecting employees to start imbibing these values in their everyday work practices by simply reading them, is least likely to provide the desired results. It is important for organizations to take the necessary steps and develop effective strategies to ensure that their core values are converted into tangible employee behaviors.

Need to align employee behavior with core values

The core values of an organization help in establishing the moral code which its workforce must abide. They represent the beliefs that are most important to the way a organization operates and how it is perceived by its customers, employees and business partners. Since employees act as the representatives of an organization, it is important for them to display behavior and attitude that is reflective of key organization values. In addition to helping in sending out a positive message about the organization, the value-based behavior of employees also makes it easier for its management to measure and manage the organization standards.

The sad truth

Despite understanding the significance of aligning their core values with the behavior of their employees, most organizations fail to take any concrete steps to ensure the same. In fact, the best that organizations do is to include these values in their website career page and new hire handbooks. However, in order to ensure that the values become an integral part of their organizational culture and employee behavior, it is important to provide specific guidelines and develop appropriate strategies for achieving this objective. Organizations that ignore the need to offer guidance and promote value-based culture and behavior are responsible for ingraining wrong values in their employees which over time become a part of their personalities. In such organizations, a negative culture becomes commonplace that thrives on cutting corners, placing the blame on others and operating in a secretive manner. This, in turn, impacts the behavior of the employees and creates a wrong image of the organization.

Taking the necessary corrective measures

In order to avoid the aforementioned consequences of the gap between core organization values and employee behavior, it is important for organizations to take the necessary corrective measures at the earliest. They need to take control and shape their employee behavior from day one by integrating these values into their HR strategy. At the same time, they need to work towards developing the organization policies in a manner that makes it easier for the members of the workforce to imbibe these values in their everyday working. Rather than leaving the values open for interpretation or inscribed on paper as words, organizations need to follow the values with prospective actions and requisite behaviors. Discussed below are some useful steps that can help organizations to align employee behavior with core values:

Choose values that are relevant to the organization

Core values should be at the heart of every business process and should make employees feel special about working for the organization in question. Such values are those that make the employees work for the organization as if they own it, make them raises the bar on the quality and efficiency of their work,  or even develop an attitude of gratitude while interacting with each other or with the customers.

Hire, promote, reward, and fire employees based on core values

As mentioned before, core values should form an integral part of the HR policy of an organization. This essentially means that the decisions about all new recruitments, employee promotions and even firing specific members of the workforce should be based on these values. Adopting such an approach helps the employees to understand the significance of developing a value-based behavior and contribute towards building a strong organizational culture.

Communicate and support the key values

The responsibility of communicating the core values of an organization to the individual members of the workforce lies with the senior management team. They need to ensure that they talk about these values every time they interact with their juniors. Moreover, they actually need to live these values to make sure that the employees also integrate them into their everyday working and behavior.

Encourage collective enforcement

One effective way to help employees develop behavior based on core organization values is by rewarding such behaviors. In fact, employee rewards systems should focus on rewarding behaviors that are in alignment with the key values of the organization and motivate others to copy such behaviors. Acknowledging and appreciating such behavior ensures its collective enforcement across all levels in an effective manner.

Following the above steps can help organizations to convert their core values into tangible employee behavior rather than them just being office punchlines.

Employee Recognition – Shaping and Driving Core Corporate Values

Employee Recognition – Shaping and Driving Core Corporate Values

Corporate values play a critical role in creating a positive work culture and ensuring organizational success. In most successful organizations, corporate values create a perfect balance between the expectations and practicality of getting the tasks done. Developing such values and getting the employees to imbibe the same is often an extremely challenging task for the leadership. One effective way of achieving this objective is to align the employee recognition system with the core values of the company. This might seem extremely difficult and even impossible, given the fact that employee recognition programs and corporate values seem to be completely unconnected. However, bringing the two together can prove highly beneficial in terms of enhanced productivity and better employee engagement.

Understanding the significance of Corporate Values

The core values of a company can be defined as honest and authentic statements about what is essential for the organization’s success.  They should help employees to decipher the language of their work environment. The core values help in setting the standards about various aspects of an organization including its brand, the type of talent it intends to attract and the rules of employee engagement in the workplace. For most employees, corporate values also act as the reference point for the behaviors that can help them ensure their professional success, which is why it becomes essential for companies to clearly define and articulate them in a proper manner.

Unawareness of corporate values, their improper understanding or miscommunication paves the way for workplace dysfunction. There are no set boundaries for acceptable behaviors, which makes it easier for employees to avoid acting in ways that may prove potentially harmful for the organization. Most importantly, employees find it increasingly difficult to find meaning in their jobs and this, in turn, affects their level of satisfaction, engagement, and happiness. Disambiguated core values often make the employees feel disappointed and even demotivates them, leading to a significant loss in productivity and efficiency. Corporate values can help in orienting the employees towards the mission and objectives of the organization and help them understand the best ways to fulfill the same.

How employee recognition can drive corporate values

Most business organizations may be unaware of the fact that their employee recognition practices go a long way in communicating their core values to the members of their workforce. This prevents them from taking any steps to integrate their core values with their employee reward and recognition systems. Discussed below are the three most important ways in which recognition program help in driving corporate values:

It sends out a clear message about expected behaviors

The choice of employees for recognition sends across a clear message to the employees about what behavior is expected of them and what is unacceptable.  When employees receive appreciation for their accomplishments, their peers are automatically informed about the values that are noteworthy and preferred for the members of the workforce. This naturally motivates them to imbibe these values and develop their behaviors in accordance with the same.

It creates a clearer definition of core values

Employee recognition proves quite effective in clearly defining the core values of an organization for the employees. The employees are actually able to identify the qualities and behavior that they feel are in sync with the core values and hence have been appreciated. It makes the repetition and imitation of these values by other members of the workforce much easier and effortless. Most importantly it does not require the HR and the leadership create any special communication for corporate values to the employees without any assured outcomes.


It helps in driving individual performance

Employee recognition acts as a means of providing personalized attention to the recipients. At the same time, it helps them to understand how the core values are integrated with their specific role and responsibilities. They are thus motivated to perform the tasks assigned to them with great commitment, integrity, and efficiency. This naturally helps in driving individual performance while also creating greater awareness about corporate values.

Even though the concepts of corporate values and employee recognition have co-existed for a long time, it is only recently that organizations have realized their strong linkage. With this new found realization, organizations are redefining their employee recognition strategies to include their core values.