Research has proven that lack of praise and recognition is the main reason for employees leaving an organisation. While salary raises and bonuses are important motivational factors, companies must recognise the achievements of employees more than once a year in different ways. Do today’s companies believe in announcing and celebrating the achievement of employees or teams across the organisation? What are the benefits of recognising and rewarding employee achievements in the presence of peers and senior managers? Leading thinkers and experts from industry share their insights about the connection between visibility of appreciation of achievements and employee engagement in this two-part article.
As Meena Wilson, Senior Faculty Centre for Creative Leadership, Asia Pacific substantiates, “People work in organisations not just to make a living, but to make a life. Tangible benefits – salary, bonuses, club and car allowances and other perks – are necessary. But so are intangible benefits – recognition of the expertise, skill and talents employees bring to work. This is what engages employees, motivating them to do their personal best.”
Sonia Kutty, General Manager, Human Resources, QuEST Global says that recognising and rewarding exemplary performers is a key ingredient of QuEST’s core values, which encourages the employees to set new standards.
S. Chandrashekhar, Director Human Resources, Juniper Networks India Pvt. Ltd. opines, “At Juniper, we have multiple modes of recognising and celebrating contributions of our colleagues. These include individual as well as team recognitions. These programmes enable us to set the bar for others as well as highlight the role models that may be emulated.”
Naveen Narayan, Global Head, Talent Acquisition, HCL Technologies while speaking on the merits of recognising an individual and its influence on the organisation says, “While Gen Y today expects immediate gratification by supervisors for the effort of walking that extra-mile, acknowledgement by peers, colleagues also goes a long way in motivating them. A motivated and dedicated employee is an asset for any organisation and proves instrumental in building a high performance culture that drives organisational growth. In other words, happy employees perform better and their loyalty towards the employer also increases.”
As Rajesh Ramanathan, Director, HR, Cadbury Kraft Foods concurs, “Recognition has multiple advantages. It builds a culture of appreciation, belonging and reinforcing the right kind of values and behaviours we’d like to encourage as an organisation. For employees, it is also an opportunity to showcase their achievements with pride. It encourages heightened ownership at work.
Rajesh Padmanabhan, HR Head, Capgemini India, feels that acknowledging contributions on a larger platform sends out two key messages to the employee community, “ We acknowledge that the contributions are creating a difference and we are counting on you to continue adding value to the company with such accomplishments.” He says, “The key here is involvement. Employees feel extremely connected when companies reach out to them for seeking their opinions and suggestions, acknowledge these, incorporate them in action and award such employees. That’s what makes the employee feel as a valued stakeholder in the company’s performance and makes the entire company, a collaborative workplace.”
Recognition must inspire others to take positive, transformational action. However, does this generate competition among colleagues? Does it lead to dissatisfaction and jealousy? Sonia Kutty explains, “This is not used as a system of benchmarking one employee against another but more so to do with the fact that the company is grateful for the dedication each employee puts forward every time the need arises.”
Rajesh Padmanabhan opines, “Every single contribution matters. It encourages others to explore opportunities that allow them to bring this zeal on to the table and give their bit in making the company a better workplace.”
However, it is important to be fair and consistent. One way is to develop criteria for what makes an employee eligible for the recognition. Anyone who meets these criteria is then recognised. It is very important for companies to have the right parameters for recognition. As Meena Wilson questions, “What achievements deserve public recognition and what form must that recognition take? Does the number of years in the company call for congratulatory handshakes and applause at annual functions? Should the sales revenues generated by teams in different regions of the country be published weekly? When a manager successfully slashes operational costs, should he/she be promoted as a reward? If an executive effectively handles a lock-out or merger, does he/she merit company-wide acclaim at a public function?”
Meena Wilson further makes a point, “The need for celebrations and recognition is a given. What has to be taken into account is what the company values most. This can be high sales volume, innovative ideas, loyalty and service, community service, cost-cutting, success in steering the company through labour problems, and so forth. What top level leaders and HR identify and celebrate will determine the culture of the organisation. This in turn will determine whether employees give more than 100 percent when they come to work.”
To sum it up, Sreehari S., Managing Director, India Development Centre, Attachmate Group rationalises, “Conventional wisdom of ‘appreciate in public, and criticise in private’ very much holds ground in today’s environment. An environment of open celebration of individual and team achievements, not only provides motivation to the achievers, but also serves as a mechanism for the organisation to convey to its employees as to what it expects of them and what will be appreciated.”
Let us look at the initiatives taken by organisations in this regard and the role of social media in the next part of this article.