Five Types of Employee Recognition That Backfire (+ 4 That Don’t)

Here are some instances of what not to do when it comes to different types of employee recognition programs and what can be done to improve the morale of your team.

What is employee recognition?

Employee recognition is, at its most basic level, the open acknowledgement and expression of gratitude for an employee’s contributions to their company. In an ideal world, everyone in a company should be able to recognise one another.

However, depending on the setting and scenario, the most effective source of a specific piece of recognition may vary.

Recognition may take various forms, but no matter how you go about it, it’s one of the most important things a team can do. Having the correct recognition program in place is crucial to providing your company with a competitive advantage.

Because of this, organisations are increasingly establishing and reconsidering employee recognition programs. They’re powerful, and when used effectively, they can promote employee engagement, reduce attrition, raise productivity, boost morale, and foster a sense of purpose.

What are the main types of employee recognition?

There are many methods to acknowledge workers, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, certain methods are superior to others. Organisations that are the most thoughtful in their approach are usually the ones that benefit the most.

Structured recognition

Structured recognition, as the name shows, is a method of acknowledging and rewarding team members that are highly purposeful. This form of praise is most likely to be directed by companies or management. Consider rewards such as Employee of the Month or long-service accolades.

Structured prizes and awards have several advantages. The key differentiator is that these awards carry a lot more weight. If you get an award like Employee of the Month or Employee of the Year, you’ll probably want to celebrate it. Employees seek large-scale appreciation because they understand it supports their efforts.

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Unstructured recognition

Traditional employee recognition limits, such as Employee of the Month, are removed with an unstructured approach. This can be accomplished through peer-to-peer or even less formal forms of top-down acknowledgement.

For example, you can congratulate your team on a job well done without bestowing a formal award. Your team members will be able to identify one another and develop a sense of togetherness. Unstructured recognition may take many forms, all of which help to propel the firm ahead.

The advantages are clear. It’s unlikely that you’ll need large amounts of money to make it happen. This type of recognition requires some funding, but it does not necessitate major galas or awards ceremonies at the end of the year.

Verbal vs. written appreciation

A thank-you letter may serve as a physical documentation of an employee’s contributions and a means of expressing gratitude. Written praise is a versatile means of acknowledgement, and letters of appreciation, whether written or delivered electronically, are appreciated.

Verbal praise is one of the oldest forms of peer appreciation in the workplace. Colleagues express verbal appreciation in honour of a staff member’s significant work, usually on an ad hoc basis.

Verbal appreciation is periodically sought as part of a formal employee recognition program, even though it is almost usually informal.

Five types of employee recognition that backfire

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Five types of employee recognition that backfire

People quitting their bosses, not their jobs, is a cliché, but it holds true for many people who have left occupations ‌ they found demotivating, uninteresting, or demanding. Employers are well aware of this. Mostly, managers struggle to acknowledge their employees in ways that encourage and inspire them.

But doing so first necessitates avoiding ineffective recognition strategies. Here are a couple of the more typical ones that don’t work, as well as one that does.

Providing token promotions

‘Token Promotions’ is a typical recognition practice in several corporations. It occurs when an employee has performed well or completed a significant task and is due to a reward. As a result, they are given a new job title and a minor bonus.

The new job title, however, does not come with additional responsibilities or a salary boost. The promotion appears to be significant, yet it carries little weight. Employees refer to this form of praise as “lip service,” and if they realise it isn’t helping them achieve their goals, they will cease working for the organisation.

Employees require genuine praise and awards to stay motivated toward the company’s long-term objectives. They believe their abilities are being disregarded or even wasted if they don’t have them.

Only praising outcomes

Your staff is putting in long hours. While not everyone can finish a significant assignment, achieve a goal, or clinch a large sale every day, they do things worthy of praise.

You’re building a workplace culture that doesn’t respect the consistent labour of everyone who contributes to the company’s wider vision if you praise end achievements and outcomes.

If an employee only receives appreciation when they achieve something extraordinary, they would become burned out and believe that their days of hard labour are in vain. This leads to disengagement and, as a result, poorer staff productivity.

Employers should recognise each employee’s contributions on a regular and frequent basis. It’s a terrific method to express staff gratitude and appreciation by praising minor successes and accomplishments as they occur.

Supervisor picked recognition (favouritism)

Companies overlook minor victories in favour of larger events such as tenure celebrations. According to Forbes’ study, tenure-based compensation systems have little influence on organisational success.

Despite this, they account for 87% of all employee appreciation programs. Only 42% of employees are aware of their company’s reward and recognition program.

If you simply have a once-a-year recognition program and only acknowledge a few favourite employees, those instances are scrutinised in great detail. And, understandably, people may perceive bias in the workplace.

Set a goal to spend an hour or two each month, or a few minutes each week, congratulating achievements and behaviours that are deserving of praise.

No personalisation in recognition

Automated or computer-generated recognition is fast and simple, but it is emotionless. The personal touch should be a normal component of any recognition program since it should communicate passionate gratitude. Your employees are familiar with your voice and tone, so make sure you send a genuine message.

Knowing who your employees are and what makes them tick is an essential part of functioning as a manager – or in any supervisory job. When you get to know each of them on a personal level, you’ll see that they all have different preferences for how they like to be thanked.

Making a point of praising someone who performed well at the start of a corporate meeting may be the ultimate kind of flattery for one person, but it may humiliate or put the next person on the spot.

Untimely recognition

Because today’s workers change employment often, they may not be acknowledged for their achievements for long. It’s critical to recognise employees as soon as they do anything worthy of praise. Recognition given at the right time strengthens the link between excellent conduct and incentives.

Another issue to consider is that if your company’s employee recognition program has several levels of approval before an employee is honoured, the recognition may not arrive on time or at all. Setting up intermediate, less bureaucratic kinds of acknowledgement will aid staff retention and performance.

Four types of employee recognition that work

Gone are the days when employees were content with a simple “attaboy” in the hallway after a meeting or a brief ceremony and plaque after five years of service.

Instead, today’s workers want and expect individualised recognition to be a part of their daily work experience, whether they work remotely in the office or a combination of both types of employee recognition.

Building a culture of recognition causes making the most of many acknowledgements. Here is a quick review of four primary forms of employee recognition tools and employee recognition examples that your company should consider integrating.

Sending spot bonus

A spot bonus is a one-time payment made to employees or individuals within an organisation for completing a certain milestone, delivering a specific outcome, or conducting oneself in a manner that satisfies the spot bonus aim.

Because it is provided based on merit or key performance indicators, a spot bonus is usually less than an annual bonus. Spot awards are comparable to spot bonuses, however, sometimes they are usually non-monetary.

On-the-spot incentives can rapidly become a substantial expenditure because of their highly impromptu nature compared to basic pay. That’s why it’s crucial to set a limit and put in place a system that guarantees everyone is fairly paid for activating their incentives. Salaries are paid for doing the essential functions of the job.

Spot bonuses are awarded for exceptional performance and making a significant difference.

Do a company-wide shoutout

Giving a shout-out is an excellent opportunity to thank your coworkers for their hard work, skill, and commitment to our institutional principles, as well as to contribute to a culture of gratitude, community, and compassion.

At Soapbox, they work in two-week sprints. There is a designated period at the end of each team’s demo day presentation to provide shutouts and acknowledgement, from bringing in cookies (when we were an onsite team) to assisting a coworker.

This has been an uplifting and meaningful tool for the firm to recognise peer and cross-departmental recognition. It’s also aided in the dismantling of common organisational silos.

Organising employees’ choice awards

The Employees’ Choice Awards, based entirely on employee feedback, recognise the best teams to work in your organisation. Here, the employees themselves choose which team they think did the best and avoid any favouritism and partiality from the managers, since the award is driven by real feedback and opinions from employees.

During CampMinder’s monthly Last Thursday meeting, each team member gets the chance to give a “Love Leaf” to another team member who exemplifies CampMinder’s key principles.

The love leafs are then placed on a bespoke tree decal to offer a visual representation of the team’s dedication to camp minder’s fundamental principles. Love Leafs are gathered at the end of each calendar year and placed into a drawing, with the winner receiving a reward tailored to that person’s interests and ambitions.

Give creative feedback

Employees desire to be treated fairly, to contribute significantly to the business via their job, and to be acknowledged and appreciated for their efforts, besides high compensation and benefits. Many organisations develop continuous recognition programs to recognise employees for a range of accomplishments as a way of expressing gratitude.

Positive feedback strengthens people, but negative feedback causes more eye rolls than exuberant grins. Constructive feedback points not only to the flaw; it also offers a remedy (and is often topped off with a job-well-done remark).

Starting an employee of the month program or holding a results-based employee appreciation day are two excellent ways to provide feedback and recognition uniquely and memorably.

In Summary

Managers frequently struggle to acknowledge their staff in meaningful and inspiring types of employee recognition. They believe that by implementing some type of employee recognition program; they are doing the right thing and that their employees should support them.

However, there are methods to use the incorrect form of employee appreciation. Employee recognition strategies that don’t work should be avoided by company executives. These are a few examples of recognition strategies that frequently backfire.

Your employees come from many walks of life and cherish various forms of praise and appreciation. Taking the time to get to know your staff and understand what sorts of recognition are important to them will help you be more effective in the future when it comes to praising them.

Employees feel valued contributors to the workplace when they know you care. Employee recognition, when provided right, may enhance the link between you and your staff, as well as the job they accomplish for your organisation.

About the Author

Dhruv Mehta is a Digital Marketing Professional who works as a brand consultant. In his free time, he loves to write about SaaS & Workplace insights. Follow him on Twitter or connect with him via LinkedIn.

Team 6Q

Team 6Q