You Better Recognize…

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Hollywood StarCan we all agree that employee recognition matters? If you haven’t already seen Daniel Pink’s RSA video on what motivates employees, you should watch it. Studies, stats and a mini-flood of new companies in the space confirms that employee recognition is something that could and should be competing for your attention. Fortune and CNNMoney note:

Nearly half of the employees surveyed by Randstand expect the job market to brighten in 2012, increasing their chances of finding new opportunities. The fact that many employees plan to seek greener pastures reveals a change in attitude over the last few years, says Peter Cappelli, director of the Wharton Center for Human Resources.

As the retention function encroaches ever closer to recruiting itself, recognition (does this seem like a lot of Rs to anyone?) has grown in importance. While typically something “handled” by HR, it’s not always been given the (ahem) recognition it deserves or that it’s currently enjoying, likely spurred by the aforementioned video, a economy that’s slowly picking up, a still hot and competitive silicon valley scene plus a couple of  recent acquisitions.

What’s fascinating is that while all research points to recognition and performance work being most optimally handled by the line or hiring manager, once again, human resources has been tasked with system selection, implementation and management of these programs. Incentive Intelligence blogger Paul Hebert says:

Here’s what I want to see…

Webinars that talk about WHY we don’t teach managers how to do recognition correctly.  We wouldn’t put up with CPAs that can’t do a T-Account and couldn’t find their debit with both hands would we?  Why do we put up with managers who won’t/can’t do recognition?

Where’s the webinar on how to fire someone who won’t recognize correctly?  Or at all?  That’s a skill we need to implement more often. Recognition is a mission critical skill today.  Get on it.

In fact, recruiters may have more to teach managers and their HR counterparts about recognition in this burgeoning economy. Recruiters after all, particularly third party recruiters, are used to working in highly specific manners, manners which are proven to boost employee engagement, increase retention and motivate employees better. Autonomy, mastery and purpose, all things that managers can assist their employees with and employees in turn can use to boost their own performance loop, something Kevin Grossman thinks is critical:

Study after study has shown that higher engagement levels generate higher profits, higher sales, higher customer loyalty and above average productivity. And the more celebratory “in the moment” moments for employees aligned with traditional performance management moments, the greater the recognition and improvement loops.

With all this focus on something that should be mainstream by now, it’s no shocker that companies like Achievers, Rypple and Globoforce and even performance management crossover Sonar 6 are doing some of the most innovative marketing and branding in the market. Not to mention taking recognition beyond the plaques, checklists and “golden watch thinking”.

In fact, both Rypple and SuccessFactors were acquired in late 2011 by industry giants Salesforce and SAP respectively. This is considerable evidence that the larger corporate world is finally taking note of the importance of employee recognition. In fact, some analysts speculate that, far from being standard “big company gobbles small company and extracts all potential value”, these smaller more innovative companies may help their new “owners” see the value of employee motivation and autonomy. Both Rypple (2008) and SuccessFactors (2001) know whereof they speak, both founded in tough economic times, when the definition of “employment” was changing rapidly and budgets were being slashed.

Moving forward, recognition may finally have its day but platforms may not be enough. Solid training, enterprise wide focus and a true understanding of the new employment role will have to be factored (yuk, yuk) into the equation.

Read more in Employee Recognition

Maren Hogan is a seasoned marketer and community builder in the HR and Recruiting industry. She leads Red Branch Media, an agency offering marketing strategy and content development. A consistent advocate of next generation marketing techniques, Hogan has built successful online communities, deployed brand strategies in both the B2B and B2C sectors, and been a prolific contributor of thought leadership in the global recruitment and talent space. Hogan speaks and writes on all career and workforce related subjects. Her clients include Fortune 500 companies and SMBs around the globe. Red Branch Media was formed in 2006 as a simple consultancy. Today, the firm is a full-service B2B Marketing Agency that serves clients in the U.K., Africa, China, Israel, Europe and North America. Primarily focused on the Human Resources and Global Workforce vendors, Red Branch Media handles clients of all shapes and sizes.
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