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Employee Recognition Essentials

Organizations have traditionally used recognition to express appreciation for length of service or accomplishment of specific milestones. Today, as more organizations employ recognition to achieve more concrete organizational goals, such as increase retention, referrals, productivity, quality, wellness, and safety, it becomes more important to differentiate appreciation from recognition in program design. Building a culture based on authentic appreciation involves addressing the "whole person," not just rewarding them for their value to the organization. Similiarly, using recognition to achieve specific goals and objectives requires the same holistic, strategic and systematic approach applied in total quality management in manufacturing if positive measurable outcomes are desired. 

Use these seven steps based on decades of research to achieve the best results from your recognition program.  

1. Be Strategic—Have a Formal Recognition Plan
  • Identify specifically what you are trying to achieve—retention, referrals, suggestions, wellness, safety, etc. and the obstacles standing in the way of hitting the goals.
  • Involve a select group of employees in planning to encourage buy-in and encourage continuous feedback.
  • Identify technology needs: do you have an employee engagement technology and is one needed?
  • Set realistic goals for what you are trying to accomplish.
  • Make sure to have a structure that recognizes the top 20% of performers but don’t forget the middle-60%.
  • Know your audience: What will move who to put in that extra effort?
  • Get CEO buy-in if possible by having him or her participate in the communications program.
  • Make sure your plan is woven into all training and communications efforts to support employees.
2. Establish Transparent Measures With ROI
  • Include both quantitative and qualitative goals and measures whenever possible; i.e., a safety or wellness goal but also measures such as successful participation in training; number of completed exercise programs, or workplace dangers identified and addressed.   
  • You can use a “closed-end” approach with a fixed number of winners to reward top performers, but make sure to have an “open-ended approach” to reward the middle-60% for incremental gains.
  • Give people a chance to participate in their own goals, be they productivity, quality, safety, wellness, etc.
  • Identify and address how your program could be affected by other stakeholders or external factors.
  • Put a value on the achievement; what is it worth to your organization for an employee to achieve a specific goal? If your organization is willing to provide an award for accomplish, it should be able to estimate the value of that action to the organization. 
3. Establish the Budget
  • Set aside a percentage of payroll your organization seeks to invest in recognition specific actions or accomplishments; most companies set aside 1% to 2%, but not all that money necessarily will be spent, as explained below. 
  • Provide managers and/or employees with a budget of points to be used to express appreciation to employees or peers, along with clear criteria for expressing appreciation and how.
  • Make sure to place a value on the actions or accomplishments being rewarded, even if the method is just as arbitrary as the cost of the awards your organization wishes to invest to recognize those actions. 
4. Create Meaningful Rewards People Will Appreciate Distinguished From Compensation
  • Involve employees in identifying the rewards and expressions of appreciation that will have the greatest impact and meaning; involve significant others, and that are buzz-worthy. Customize and personalize the gifting experience. While presentation is important, be sensitive to how people prefer to be appreciated. 
5. Have a Clear Communications Plan
  • Use your company communication platform or employee recognition technology to regularly provide useful information and to get feedback from salespeople, including: case studies of success stories; facts and figures to address client questions; standing reports, etc. 
6. Consider a Mentorship Program
  • Bringing together proven leaders with newer or up-and-coming employees can not only help develop leadership skills for employees and learning opportunities for newer employees, it helps build a sense of community.
7. Continually Monitor the Effort
  • Regularly analyze quantitative versus qualitative goals and use of the employee engagement technology, if you have a platform, which can include surveys, communications, recognition, feedback, and more.
  • Look for department/regional differences correlated with use of the engagement app, if one is used.
8.  Carefully Evaluate Results
  • Compare quantitative with qualitative results and engagement app use if possible to find trends.
  • Compare the cost of the awards issued and other expenses with the value of the actions and accomplishments. 
  • Regroup with the employee input group; evaluate general feedback from customers and other stakeholders.

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Education, Certifications, and Information to Activate
Brand Media and Enterprise Engagement 

A complete learning, certification, and information program and a course syllabus for educators.
Resources: The Brand Media Coalition, the only guide to the story-telling power of brands and where to source them for business, event, promotional gifting, and rewards and recognition. Enterprise Engagement Solution Provider Directory. The only directory of engagement solution providers covering all types of agencies and tactics as well as insights on how to select them.
Communities: The  Enterprise Engagement Alliance and Advocate and the  Brand Media Coalition free resource centers offering access to the latest research, news, and case studies; discounts, promotions, referrals, and commissions, when appropriate to third-party solution providers from participating coalition solution provider members.
Training and Certification
Enterprise Engagement Alliance Education: Certified Engagement Practitioner; Advanced Engaged Practitioner, and Certified Engagement Solution Provider learning and certification programs on how to implement Stakeholder Capitalism principles at the tactical level. 
International Center for Enterprise Engagement: The only training and certification program for ISO 30414 human capital reporting and ISO 10018 quality people management certification. 
A CEO's Guide to Engagement Across the Enterprise cover
The EEA offers a complimentary course syllabus for educators.
In Print: 
This is the definitive implementation guide to Stakeholder Capitalism, written specifically to provide CEOs and their leadership teams a concise overview of the framework, economics, and implementation process of a CEO-led strategic and systematic approach to achieving success through people.  (123 pages, $15.99)
The first and most comprehensive book on Enterprise Engagement and the new ISO 9001 and ISO 10018 quality people management standards. Includes 36 chapters detailing how to better integrate and align engagement efforts across the enterprise. (312 pages, $36.) 
10-minute short course: click here for a 10-minute introduction to Enterprise Engagement and ISO standards from the Coggno.com learning platform.
•  The Engagement Agency at EngagementAgency.net, offering: complete support services for employers, solution providers, and technology firms seeking to profit from formal engagement practices for themselves or their clients, including Brand and Capability audits for solution providers to make sure their products and services are up to date.
•  C-Suite Advisory Service—Education of boards, investors, and C-suite executives on the economics, framework, and implementation processes of Enterprise Engagement. 
•  Speakers Bureau—Select the right speaker on any aspect of engagement for your next event.
•  Mergers and Acquisitions. The Engagement Agency’s Mergers and Acquisition group is aware of multiple companies seeking to purchase firms in the engagement field. Contact Michael Mazer in confidence if your company is potentially for sale at 303-320-3777.
Enterprise Engagement Benchmark Tools: The Enterprise Engagement Alliance offers three tools to help organizations profit from Engagement. Click here to access the tools.
•  ROI of Engagement Calculator. Use this tool to determine the potential return-on-investment of an engagement strategy. 
•  EE Benchmark Indicator. Confidentially benchmark your organization’s Enterprise Engagement practices against organizations and best practices. 
•  Compare Your Company’s Level of Engagement. Quickly compare your organization’s level of engagement to those of others based on the same criteria as the EEA’s Engaged Company Stock Index.
•  Gauge Your Personal Level of Engagement. This survey, donated by Horsepower, enables individuals to gauge their own personal levels of engagement.
For more information, contact Bruce Bolger at Bolger@TheEEA.org, 914-591-7600, ext. 230.

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