Recognition programs are a powerful and often under-utilized tool; their power and relevance become even more significant in the context of the pandemic and the psychological benefits of enhancing employee's self-esteem.
What are the tools and technologies organizations can leverage to shape employee recognition? What are some of the trends around employee recognition post-2020 in India? What does the future landscape for employee recognition look like?
To deep dive into this, we spoke to Partha Neog, the CEO and Co-founder of Vantage Circle - the leading employee engagement platform. Launched in 2011, Vantage Circe is a single platform for engaging employees through Rewards and Recognition, Wellness, Perks, Sentiment Analysis, and more. Prior to Vantage Circle, he has worked in companies like Infoedge, Hughes, Bharat Electronics across different geographies and functions, and has more than 22 years of experience.
Here are the excerpts from the interview.
What are some of the trends around employee recognition post-2020 in India?
Three things are very obvious after 2020. First, there is more demand for recognition tools. People realize that a hybrid workplace will become the norm where digital tools are important They were aware of their importance before but now these tools have become imperative. Hence the demand has increased.
Secondly, when they are looking at tools, they realize adding more tools is not going to be effective as far as adoption is concerned. So they are looking at doing recognition in the flow of work-they want recognition to be integrated with the tools they normally use for communication and work.
Thirdly, there is a shift that is visible-rather than a tick mark activity; HR is looking to these tools to answer more fundamental questions. Questions like alignment with culture, promoting certain values or correlation of recognition with performance and attrition. They are not simply for just a tick mark activity of peer-to-peer recognition.
What are some of the challenges posed by the pandemic to employee recognition?
The challenge was very straightforward on the recognition front. When you are in the company, you might simply recognize someone by telling them they did a good job. That thing is gone-in Zoom calls you cannot show emotion. That’s where companies realize they need these tools. Tools will never replace physical recognition but they can assist you in that. So the challenge is how do you move recognition on a regular basis and make it visible to everyone.
How can organizations deliver impactful recognition at the workplace through AIRe framework?
This is a new framework that we have been working on for some time. The framework is about Appreciation, Incentivization, and Reinforcement with the emotional connect as the multiplier. In short, we call it the AIRe framework implying this is the air your employees need to breathe in. The first phase of recognition was peer-to-peer recognition, long service awards or spot awards. Now it has gone beyond the tick mark activities. So while some companies had a good recognition tool in place, for others it has become a necessity on account of the past year. But the second set does not have expertise in creating a recognition framework. For them, the AIRe framework gives them a baseline of how to start thinking about designing a recognition program.
For those companies who already have these tools, the AIRe framework gives them a benchmark to measure themselves against the best in the industry. We are coming up with AIRe index in the near future which will rank companies on the policies and their effectiveness.
What are some of the tools and technologies that can be leveraged to shape employee recognition?
Tools like ours and many other R&R tools are available in the market to measure recognition. What’s important to understand is that measuring the effectiveness of recognition or the pulse of the company is important. Because unless you measure them, you will not know how effective your R&R policies are. So the pulse survey kinds of tools are very important to get employee feedback.
What would you say are some common traps to avoid when selecting an employee recognition framework for your organization?
First people need to change their mindsets that long service rewards is recognition. It’s just one part of the recognition. Recognition is much more than that. Secondly, one challenge is that people take recognition as a cost. There’s of course a platform cost- but you don’t go out and buy the cheapest tool. You have to look at recognition tools as something that will increase productivity, which can imbibe the company values in the employees. Last, companies need to look at the total cost of ownership not just bits and pieces
I think in the next two years, we will see a change in both the buyers and the sellers of recognition tools.