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.

Building a culture of appreciation in the organization through employee recognition

Employers today are well aware of the fact that lack of appreciation creates a disengaged workforce that is extremely difficult to retain over a long period of time. The failure to appreciate the employees makes them feel that their efforts and achievements are going unnoticed. This, in turn, makes the employees feel less appreciative of any efforts being made by the organization for their professional growth and development. Over the course of time, the employee dissatisfaction level grows to the extent that they may seek better employment opportunities. The best way to avoid such situations is to build and nurture a strong culture of appreciation. In this context, exploring and implementing creative employee recognition ideas can go a long way in creating a great work environment that encourages growth, loyalty, and engagement.

Benefits of a culture of appreciation

Developing a culture of appreciation can help organizations in many ways. It can create a work environment that fosters growth and creativity by boosting the morale and confidence of the employees. Organizations that work towards building a culture of appreciation through innovative employee recognition ideas reap benefits through significant improvement in the happiness levels of members of the workforce and a boost in overall productivity. Discussed below are some effective ways that organizations can use to build such a culture:

Begin the day by sharing thoughts of gratitude

When individuals choose to start their day on a positive note, it helps in keeping them in high spirits through the rest of the day as well. The best way to ensure the same is by sharing a thought of gratitude or motivational employee recognition quotes with the workforce through the intranet, emails or digital displays. Doing so, helps employees focus on the positive things around them and makes it easier to handle challenges at work.

Promote the habit of sending prompt ‘Thank You’ notes

Organizations should encourage employees across levels to send prompt “Thank You” notes digitally or otherwise to anyone who might have helped them in any manner. These thank you notes are often the most effective of all forms of employee recognition, especially in the context of peer-to-peer recognition. It helps in building a sense of companionship and enhancing the value of the effort made by one member of the workforce to help another member.

Learn to appreciate employees in ways preferred by them

It is a common perception that appreciating employees on a public platform is the most effective. However, this might not always be the case as individual employees have unique appreciation expectations. Hence it is essential for organizations to learn the art of recognizing employees in a manner they like. For some employees, a few words of praise from the CEO or chairman might suffice, while others might prefer more tangible non-monetary awards. Appreciating individual employees in their preferred way makes it easier to connect and communicate with them in a more effective manner. So giving a choice to the employee on how he or she should be appreciated is an effective way to create the culture of giving and receiving appreciation.

Publicizing the appreciation for a co-worker

It is not uncommon for employees to seek the help and support of their co-workers for the completion of various tasks. In fact, there might be times when such help can take an employee out of a really tight spot. In such cases, the employees should be motivated to write an employee recognition email or post a message for their savior. The manager or the HR can take the initiative to get the employee to read it aloud in front of other team members. In addition to making the employee receiving such appreciation feel happy and valued, it makes the givers of such appreciation feel genuinely good.

Celebrate important milestones in a grand manner

It is important to celebrate the milestones achieved by the organization as well as employees in a grand way. Such celebrations inspire the members of the workforce to keep performing at a high level or at an even higher level. The celebrations also help in assuring the employees that their contribution is valued, whether it is on an individual level or at the organizational level.

Engage with employees at a more personal level

For most professionals today, their workplace is their second home, which is why they often expect their employers to behave in a more empathetic manner. By encouraging the managers and supervisors across all levels within the organization to engage with their subordinates at a more personal level, organizations can gain the benefit of greater commitment and loyalty of the employees. Such an attitude of their superiors makes the employees feel more appreciative of their organizational culture and inspires them to contribute towards it in a positive manner. In fact, this could be one of the more cost-effective ways of earning employee appreciation.

Building a strong culture of appreciation assures individual employees that they are not only seen and heard but also valued by their employers and peers. This enhances their sense of self-worth and makes them an active contributor in the process of growth and success of the business.

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.