Guide to Employee Recognition in a Start-up Environment

Guide to Employee Recognition in a Start-up Environment

The importance of keeping the employees motivated and engaged in any organization cannot be undermined. In start-up culture, this aspect gains even greater significance, especially in terms of employee recognition and rewards. Given that employee engagement significantly impacts the fulfillment of business objectives, appreciating and rewarding the deserving employees, ensures stronger company outcomes. While most established businesses have a formal and mechanized employee recognition system, things need to be done differently in a start-up environment to get the best results. Here, it is essential to first understand the significance of employee recognition in start-ups.

Importance of Employee Recognition in Start-up Environment

Employee recognition forms the core of employee engagement in most business organizations. It is also a well-known truth that most start-ups comprise of a small group of employees performing multiple functions simultaneously. This naturally requires the employees to stretch beyond their usual capabilities and work hours in order to propel the organization forward. Therefore, in such environments, recognizing and appreciating their efforts goes a long way establishing an emotional connect and sense of belonging of the employees with the start-up. However, as mentioned before, effective employee recognition in start-up environments cannot be carried out in a conventional manner but rather requires mindful planning and execution.

Handling Employee Recognition the Right Way

One of the key aspects of handling employee recognition in the right manner is to make it individually meaningful for the employees. In a start-up, the number of employees is quite limited making it easier for the employers to gain a better understanding of how each employee is likely to respond to recognition. This enables them to develop a smooth, systematic, timely and fair recognition program for their employees. The key parameters that should form an integral part of every effective employee recognition program are discussed in brief as follows.

Well Defined Criteria: It is important for a start-up organization to have well-defined criteria that forms the base of its employee recognition program. Employees should be recognized and appreciated not only for their professional achievements but also their personality and behavior aspects that might help in motivating other team members. It is the responsibility of the start-up leadership to make their teams aware of the different criteria for which they might gain recognition and appreciation. At the same time, these criteria should be flexible enough to meet the changing business and employee needs as the organization grows and expands.

Timeliness of Recognition: Recognizing and rewarding the efforts of an employee well in time will ensure the effectiveness of the program. Any delays in the process can have significant negative consequences and can even reduce the morale and efficiency of the employees. One method that can be adopted by start-ups to avoid this problem is to set a specific day of the month for handing out rewards and recognition to selected employees. This ensures that the employees do not feel desperate or disappointed if they are not provided with immediate recognition and appreciation. Alternately, early-stage start-ups can choose to acknowledge and appreciate employees regularly and on the go.

Fairness of Recognition: The most important aspect of ensuring the effectiveness of an employee recognition program is to ensure its fairness. This means that the startup leadership should verify whether or not the employees nominated for recognition truly deserve the same. It is not uncommon for people to take credit of the work done by their juniors to gain the appreciation of their bosses. Recognizing and rewarding such people is not only unfair but also tends breeding dissent besides reducing the overall employee motivation in a start-up. Hence, it is essential for startup leaders to develop strategies that can help in ensuring complete fairness in handing out rewards and recognition to a deserving employee.

Variety in Rewards: Providing some sort of variety in the rewards being handed out to deserving employees is also something that startup leaders should consider. Offering the same rewards to different employees for diverse reasons makes the whole process seem formal and monotonous. By adding a bit of variety, the start-up leaders can keep the whole process innovative and interesting. It will also add a bit of surprise and excitement to the process as the employees are often kept guessing about the reward until the very last moment.

Individual Meaningfulness: Finally, it is important for the start-up leaders to ensure that the rewards and recognition being handed out holds some meaning for the individual employees. They need to understand that every individual is different and perceives appreciation and recognition in a different manner. While for some true recognition might mean the announcement of their achievements to the world, for others it might be a few words of praise spoken by their seniors in private. The same holds true for rewards, which might hold greater value for some in cash, while others might prefer receiving an appropriate gift.

Taking the above factors into consideration can help start-up organizations develop a truly efficient and result-oriented rewards program that enhances the overall workforce performance and motivation quite significantly and drive the desired business results.

HiFives Team