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Employee Recognition is Like Exercise…The More Often You Do It, the More Results You'll See

January 23, 2014

situpsImagine your friend is kicking off a new year’s resolution to be healthier by starting an exercise plan.  “I am committing to go to the gym every five years,” she says.
It might be better than never going to the gym at all, but you may find yourself wondering how to gently tell your friend that she’s probably not going to achieve her full potential for healthy results.
Yet, in the same way, many organizations have traditionally limited the impact of their employee recognition program in their culture.  They believe they have addressed their employees need for recognition because — after all — they have a program in place for employees to be recognized regularly….at their five- or ten-year career milestones.

“I’m committing to go the gym every five years!”

Today, of course, businesses acknowledge that employees require positive feedback more than once every five years, and the most successful employee recognition programs are built to intentionally incorporate day-to-day and informal recognition in addition to their formal recognition events.
If your recognition program feels more like an isolated program than a part of your organization’s culture, frequency may be a point to consider.
Create a specific strategy for how to support recognition at three levels: day-to-day recognition, informal recognition, and formal recognition.
Day-to-day recognition is regular, appreciation and thanks for a job well done.  This is most often communicated directly and verbally from manager or peer to employee.
The second form of recognition is referred to as informal recognition. Informal recognition is loosely structured often within a team or department. A traveling trophy might be an example. Both the Day to Day and Informal recognition are about attitudes and behaviors. When the best time to use these simple tools?   …Right when the thought crosses your mind, do something about it.
Finally, there is the formal recognition program.  This is the one that is most familiar for most people. Formal recognition programs highlight accomplishments and significant contributions.  It’s typically the annual event for career milestones or sales awards.  Formal recognition is significant awards for significant contributions.
Think of it like this:  Day-to-Day Recognition is like working out. It’s the daily maintenance that keeps your team on pace.    Stay in shape by carving out the time to maintain relationships with daily positive reinforcement and appreciation.
Informal Recognition is like a monthly ultimate frisbee game.  Find creative ways to keep your team connected in a fun, positive way that supports your goals.
Formal Recognition is like the prize for finishing a marathon.  It’s the celebration for the major achievements that individuals and teams have worked so hard to achieve.
What can your organization do to enable and support each of the three forms?