Recognition in an Ailing Economy

In their current newsletter, “Fresh Milk from Contented Cows,”, employee engagement guru Bill Catlette (half of Contented Cow Partners along with Richard Hadden) reports on his experience at the recent Recognition Professionals International conference in California. He calls out a couple of reasons recognition program providers such as Globoforce continue to experience success, even in a down economy.

“It seems likely that an ailing economy will cause many organizations to ‘lean down’ their spending in the traditional comp and benefits areas for awhile. We will be more reticent than usual to add to the fixed cost structure. With growing acceptance of the notion that a focused, fired-up workforce really does lead to improved outcomes, we will, however, likely see enhanced focus on performance-based recognition and reward programs.”

Bill is right. We’ve seen this proven out in our own customer base and it makes sound strategic investment sense for companies during tough economic times. When employees feel overworked and underappreciated, they will no longer give their best – consciously or unconsciously. Saying thank you, showing appreciation and rewarding employees in a personally meaningful (if not expensive) way is a simple and highly effective way to improve employee engagement in their roles and in the company during stressful times.

“As potent a tool as recognition and rewards can be, their effect is vastly diluted unless administered on a customized, highly personalized level. In other words, we’re beginning to realize that one size really does just fit one, and thus, people are best recognized in the manner, frequency, and currency of their choosing.”

Again, Bill is right on the money. Check out eBay and search for service awards or company awards. I just did and saw nearly 200 pins, watches, glasses, plates and other tchotchkes obviously of no lasting value to their owners. Giving people the reward of choice and letting them shop, dine or play in their own backyard or anywhere in the world for a meaningful item that they will remember is a far more valuable investment for a company.

For more insights from Bill and Richard, check out a webinar they presented with Globoforce not long ago on “Work Is Contractual – Effort Is Personal: Discretionary Effort, Employee Engagement and Your Bottom Line.”

1 comment(s):

At May 31, 2008 1:05 PM, Rich DiGirolamo said...

Great points and I agree wholeheartedly that recognition needs to be as individual as the person. But in addition to buttons and pins, managers should push the envelope a bit and consider things like giving employees a few hours comp time or perhaps even a day off.

And since you mentioned playing in their backyard, how about allowing them to play in the office courtyard; June 19th would be an ideal day to recognize and reward; make it a short celebration of office success and be a part of Recess At Work Day. Check it out at