While organizations have recognition programs, they don’t have the desired effect as there are a lot of issues in implementation
Social recognition tools will impact employee engagement and promote a culture of recognition within the organization
Recognition is one of the most understated tools in the arsenal of HR. Swaminathan Santhanam, Chief Executive Officer at Adrenalin, sheds light on the importance of social recognition, why recognition programs are not having the desired effect, and about Adrenalin’s Social Recognition Tool.
Recognition is one of the most understated tools. Why do you think so?
Employee recognition programs typically revolve around service longevity, retirement, achievement and outstanding performance and they are mostly rewarded either in the form of gifts, money, gift cards, merchandise or certificates. Organizations budget at least 2 per cent of their payroll on recognition programs. But, these programs are infrequent with limited visibility beyond the employee’s manager, department or a business unit. Secondly, longevity rewards can have a negative effect if the performance of the long-term employee is not up to the mark. This can send the message that longevity is valued over creativity. Thirdly, monetary rewards are just functional in nature and are forgotten easily. While gift cards give the flexibility in award choices, it dissolves in value. What employees need is spontaneous appreciation and value this a lot. The focus should also be on intrinsic motivation and not extrinsically motivated behavior. So, when the organization’s reward program is not focused on intrinsic motivation, then there is a challenge in rolling out such programs. That is when these programs become understated.
While most of the organizations talk about having a recognition system in place, the failure actually lies in its implementation. One of the most common flaws that I have come across in rewards and recognition programs is that they mirror job requirements. In other words, the way people are being recognized today is largely aligned to what people are paid to do anyways. While the employees may love it, the effort is not going to be incremental or innovative. Hence, it is not valued much and eventually the program loses steam and dies a natural death. This is one of the reasons why such programs don’t have a great impact on the organizations.
How important is it to socially recognize employees?
When you take a social approach to reward and recognition programs, there are advantages in terms of increased program participation, improved intrinsic motivation and sustained workforce engagement. The Gallup Survey Report of February 2013, surveyed 1.3 million employees and found that organizations with social recognition systems have enjoyed the following benefits: 21 per cent higher productivity, 22 per cent higher profitability, 41 per cent higher quality, 48 per cent fewer safety incidents and 35 per cent reduced taxes.
When an employee exhibits organizational value in front of the customer, he/she don’t have to wait for the manager to recognize that. Such recognition can come from anyone. Once such behaviors are recognized publicly, it increases the visibility of the person in the organization, and addresses the psychological need of the person (in terms of recognition) along with giving the emotional connect that the employee looks for. Through the Social Recognition Tool, we try to address the psychological need of the employees that will bring in a culture of appreciation.
Please give some more insights on how the Social Recognition Tool or Adrenalin SMILE works.
What we have built here at Adrenalin as a Social Recognition Tool is what we refer to as Adrenalin SMILE. Basically, the idea is to evoke intrinsic motivation to fuel commitment and passion among the employees. This platform uses the approach of a gamification concept. The system uses gamification in the form of rewarding points to build a unique identifier called Adrenalin Quotient (AQ). The employees are encouraged to reward their colleagues with points whenever they spot good behavior, team work or work excellence pertaining to organizational values or other behaviors that the organization wants to encourage. While building the AQ for an employee, the system also provides the option of giving virtual gifts or emoticons to employees. All the recognitions are then compiled in the Smile Corner, which is a profile page where the employee can see his/her rewards and recognition. Employees can earn badges or be part of a unique club by earning more points. Other employees can also post their feedback in the Smile Corner, which again creates visibility. Eventually, the visibility in the Intranet is taken to the next level when such updates are posted on the company’s Facebook or LinkedIn pages. Employees can redeem the points whenever they want to. Such employee recognition program gives a lot of edge for the employees and also promotes the employer brand. In the employee context, it makes the employees feel validated, encouraged and most importantly valued when they know that their hard work is respected. The end result of what we are trying to achieve is a more actively engaged workforce.
Apart from employee engagement and employer branding, what other benefits can organizations leverage from such recognition tools?
The Social Recognition Tools will impact employee engagement, the manager-employee relationship within the organization and promote a culture of recognition. It results in a positive momentum or vibe that is always present in the organization. It makes the employee conscious of exhibiting positivity and good behavior across the organization so that they become role models. In Adrenalin, a good aspect of SMILE is that anyone can recognize anyone as there is no hierarchy, which means that there is a level of empowerment within the employee force and hence that eliminates subjectivity. Also, another benefit is employee retention as the environment around the employee is positive allows them the freedom and empowerment in the organization. It also builds trust within the employees and enhances team work. Customer satisfaction scores improve and negative effects like absenteeism are also decreased.
Do you think a tool like SMILE will help in changing the mindsets within organizations?
If you look at the current model of recognition, a lot of the programs are time-bound and hence have an effect only for a particular period. With the tool, recognition will become a yearlong phenomenon and hence there will be a change in mindset among employees to exhibit positive behavior within the organization and with the customers.
With regards to a company’s overall rewards and recognition programs, where do you think social recognition stands currently?
Recognition has a lot of priority within organizations, but the issue lies in implementation. It is in this context that the paradigm shift of social recognition becomes a boon for organizations. Today, HR finds it difficult to implement recognition programs as it has subjectivity issues related to it. When you have a simple tool like SMILE, it makes the life of HR much easierand the operations become much more transparent. I believe that the concept of social recognition will pick up from now on. While globally organizations have already tried it out, in India it is still in the nascent stage. But the response from Indian companies has been encouraging.