Changing employee demands and expectations in a candidate’s market means companies are increasingly considering a more permanent shift to a hybrid work model. With the increased flexibility around work arrangements resulting in better work-life balance, employees are benefiting from this change.
Yet, the hybrid workplace has presented a new challenge for employers and employees alike: cultivating a culture where employee recognition and D&I initiatives can be effectively executed without physical interaction.
Further confounding the challenge is the uneven implementation of both initiatives today.
For example, a recent survey conducted by the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) revealed that 71% of employers in Singapore recognise the positive impact of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) on company culture, and 55% recognise its impact on employee engagement, but 7 in 10 Singapore employers have yet to implement policies around D&I.
It’s clear that recognition and D&I are intricately linked, but this leaves us with the question: what is the relationship between recognition and D&I?
Making the connection between recognition and D&I
Our research discovered that when there’s a strong culture of recognition, a strong commitment to D&I also exists.
Recognition is key in driving higher inclusion at work; at companies with a strong culture of recognition, 87% of employees report a high level of inclusion and a majority (82%) of employees agree that their company is committed to D&I.
Taken together, this is strong evidence that recognition goes hand in hand with D&I initiatives. When one is prevalent in an organisation’s culture, it’s likely that the other is present as well. Although correlation does not imply causation, the fact that these two factors are linked is enough cause for HR leaders to sit up and take notice.
Companies who have tied D&I into their recognition efforts have had a positive impact on not only recognition and D&I outcomes, but have also experienced tangible business benefits.
In fact, our study revealed that employees are three times more likely to be highly engaged when companies integrate their D&I initiatives with their recognition programmes, resulting in 22% higher profitability, 21% higher productivity, and up to 65% less turnover.
Further, 89% of employees whose companies integrate D&I and recognition feel a strong sense of inclusion.
Integrating D&I into recognition also improves recognition outcomes. At companies where the two strategies are linked, 88% of employees agreed that recognition leads to higher levels of productivity, engagement and a stronger sense of belonging and inclusion.
Undoubtedly, there are real, tangible benefits to be gained when these two strategies are integrated. To truly drive cultural change within the organisation, leaders need to start by listening and acting on employee feedback, which is critical to empowering their workforce.
At a time where employees are rethinking their career priorities and relationship with work, employers must assess whether their organisational culture is benefiting or compromising the employee experience.
Cultivating a stronger sense of belonging through recognition and D&I
Combining recognition and D&I strategies also creates positive outcomes for your employees’ sense of belonging in your organisation.
Employees who are recognised more frequently for their work are 4.5 times more likely to feel a strong sense of belonging, and employees who feel valued and accepted at work are 2.15 times more likely to feel a sense of belonging.
A sense of belonging is critical for driving individual and organisational success. A recent survey conducted by the Achievers Workforce Institute found that employees with a strong sense of belonging are significantly more likely to be engaged in their role, in addition to being more than twice as likely to be productive and satisfied with their job — all of which contribute to greater employee retention.
How can companies not just recognise D&I efforts, but also ensure that recognition is inclusive, to build a greater sense of belonging among their employees? I recommend the following four approaches:
Bring your programs together: Unite leaders of both Recognition and D&I programs to discover how each set of initiatives can work together. Planning in a silo will mean continued separation, whereas bringing those planning initiatives together will help develop organic alignment between programs.
Add recognition to existing D&I initiatives: Encourage employees to recognize D&I efforts among their peers, as interactions with co-workers contribute to feelings of inclusion and belonging at work. For example, companies can leverage a platform that enables public recognition, like a company-wide newsfeed. Through the newsfeed, employees can stay updated on every recognition sent in real-time and even show additional support for each recognition, encouraging employees to participate and engage in peer-to-peer recognition.
Create D&I recognition opportunities: Organisations can consider adding a recognition component for D&I efforts into their program, to emphasise that D&I is a strong part of company values. What gets recognised gets repeated; our previous study found that 92% of employees agree that when they’re recognised for a specific action, they’re more likely to take that action in the future.
Use recognition data to assess D&I trends: Identifying key data, such as language trends, can help organisations understand and address nuances in how certain groups recognise, which in turn informs recognition training programs.
Additionally, frequent real-time pulse surveys can help to keep employers on track with the sense of belonging within the organisation, and course-correct D&I initiatives along the way.
Finally, leaders need to be more transparent to build visibility around how they are prioritising employee wellbeing. Only one-third of HR leaders and 17% of employees say their recognition program is integrated with their D&I strategy. This disconnect happens because employees are not usually aware of how the strategies are structured; transparency on such issues can help employees feel included and valued.
In times of change, we must rely on data to guide our decision making. The research highlighted today clearly demonstrates the power of connecting recognition with D&I to drive results for both initiatives. Business and HR leaders looking for ways to improve the employee experience should ensure they are focused on breaking down silos and finding ways for each program to support the other. With this clear call to action, leaders should feel empowered to take action informed by employee feedback and powered by recognition to drive diversity and inclusion from the ground up.