Article: How to use recognition to create a culture of inclusion in companies

Employee Engagement

How to use recognition to create a culture of inclusion in companies

The power of recognition of employees impacts inclusion in three ways: helping employees feel valued, reinforcing inclusive behaviour, and building connections across the organisation.
How to use recognition to create a culture of inclusion in companies

Formal recognition programmes have been around long enough for organisations to know what an important role it plays in engaging employees not just on achievement day but also in the everyday experience. However, many struggle with the specifics of its implementation, and often overlook things that can have a major impact on the outcome of such programmes.

A growing body of evidence suggests the pursuit of a workplace that is more inclusive, equitable, and fair is definitely worth it. Positive impact on the everyday experience of employees as well as on the business results are discernible, making a strong case for use of the tool of recognition.

Recognition most powerful way towards an inclusive work culture

According to global engagement agency BI WORLDWIDE, included employees are 17 times more likely to say working brings out their best ideas.

When it comes to building an inclusive culture, it needs to be part of the way employees experience working for the company on a daily basis.

They need to feel like they belong and can be themselves. The process starts from the day of the first interaction as part of the hiring process, goes on to onboarding, to everyday achievements, to special occasions, to the day when your employees become brand advocates. During the entire lifecycle, inclusive behaviour should be implemented and recognised.  

Sukesh Jain, CEO, BI WORLDWIDE India says Diversity & Inclusion leaders should leverage recognition and rewards as a strategy to drive inclusion.

“There are many factors that go into changing your culture to be more inclusive: leadership alignment, communications, learning, events, career pathing, and even the physical space employees work in. But perhaps the most powerful way to influence culture change is through recognition,” he adds.

Recognising inclusivity prompts more inclusive behaviour

Included employees are six times more likely to work as hard as they can, as per BI WORLDWIDE.

A good way would be to start recognising the behaviour which helps build an inclusive culture. After all, what gets recognised will be repeated.

Jain shares following 10 key behaviours/traits that could act as an initial guide of what to look for but make sure to customise them to fit your unique organisation:

  • Outstanding Contribution, for showing someone how their job makes a difference
  • Collaboration, for making connections with those around you
  • Expanded horizons, for learning something new, personal growth, or helping another grow
  • On the Rise, for career growth or advocating for another’s career growth
  • Boldly transparent, for leaders who share important information
  • Do the right thing, for anyone who is honest and ethical
  • Got your back, for those who support and help one another recover from a mistake
  • It’s not all about us, for those who put another's interest before their own
  • Think outside the box, for those who suggest crazy ideas
  • Keep an open mind, for those who value all perspectives and take crazy ideas seriously

Motivating managers to drive inclusion through recognition

Managers are the torchbearers when it comes to driving recognition and inclusion and Jain says brands need to invest in the right managers and leaders training, skills and infrastructure to ensure they are able to bring the employee experience to life.

“Activating recognition programmes on various collaboration and communication tools is a sure shot way to build a culture of inclusion.”

Employees feel valued when they are recognised

Employees who feel included are 15 times more likely to find work inspiring than those who do not feel included, as per BI WORLDWIDE.

“In our 2020 New Rules of Engagement study, we found that 80% of employees who were told they made a difference at work in the past month felt like they belonged versus just 58% of those who were not given any praise,” says Jain.

He adds that to make recognition even more meaningful, offer it in written form. “In the same study, we found twice as many people felt included when they were given a note, e-mail, or other form of written recognition within the past month.”

The power of recognition stems from impacting inclusion in three ways: helping employees feel valued, reinforcing inclusive behaviours, and building connections across the organisation.

Recognition draws people together

It is well known that gratitude improves social relationships and strategic recognition creates gratitude for both the giver and recipient, says Jain.

"The recipient is grateful to have been noticed and recognised by a colleague. The giver is often showing thanks and appreciation for something the recipient has done. Recognition can enable connections between people on the same team as well as people who otherwise do not interact often, who may not have met, or who may be at different levels of the organisational hierarchy,” he adds.

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Topics: Employee Engagement, Employee Relations, #DEIB

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