Common Mistake #3: Recognition that targets only the elite

Do you believe that only the elite deserve recognition? Or that the sales team or professional services team are the only ones that should benefit from additional rewards for performance?

When only the top few receive infrequent high-value awards, it is difficult to affect the company culture. Best practice of some of the world’s largest and most complex companies shows that low-value awards for many results in much higher participation leading to a stronger impact on the company. Every recognition award acts as a marketing and communication moment, reinforcing core values to the workforce.

Our best practices have found that if the program is promoted so that 5% of the workforce is awarded each week, a critical mass will be achieved and the program will self-maintain. Top performing companies ensure that 80% of the global workforce will be touched by the program each year. What does this mean in a company? – Simply that a far greater percentage of employees feel valued for their efforts and become more engaged in their daily tasks.

We also strongly advocate peer-to-peer recognition as one of the most powerful methods for driving this penetration, program acceptance, employee engagement, and bottom line results. Empowering employees to thank their colleagues in a meaningful way – even a virtual pat on the back – can unite the workforce and drive increased return.

An August 2007 Gallup survey found that positive words activate regions of the brain related to reward, “creating an internal reward system that makes employees want to repeat behavior that the company needs, if doing the right thing earns them recognition.”

Are the majority – not the minority – getting recognized for doing the right thing in your organization? What do you think of this approach? Tell us about your experience in companies with elite-only recognition programs. Do you agree or disagree with that approach?

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