Article: Recognition programmes are not a "set it and forget it" initiative: Vantage Circle’s Partha Neog

Rewards & Recognition Technology

Recognition programmes are not a "set it and forget it" initiative: Vantage Circle’s Partha Neog

In conversation with Partha Neog of Vantage Circle, we unlock key takeaways on the value of measuring recognition programmes and how organisations can get started on this.
Recognition programmes are not a "set it and forget it" initiative: Vantage Circle’s Partha Neog

For recognition programmes to be successful, they must have defined objectives and measures. Measurement of impact is crucial to reflect on what these programmes get right and the areas of improvement. It is key to designing policies and leading interventions that are meaningful, align with the organisational purpose and celebrate the major milestones of your people. 

Keeping this mission in mind, Vantage Circle has launched a phenomenal recognition framework called AIRe that supports organisations in their recognition journey. To dive deeper into the building blocks of these metrics and uncover the highlights of their recently released Global AIRe Benchmark Report 2023, we get into an insightful conversation with Partha Neog, CEO and Co-Founder of Vantage Circle

In the current dynamic business landscape, we know employee recognition is critical to motivate and inspire your talent. But what makes it imperative for organisations today to measure their recognition programmes?

That's a great question. With my years of experience, I have seen some great recognition efforts falter over time. Why? Because they fail to take the necessary actions with the changing landscape and measure it properly. The big question here is why does an organisation need to measure its recognition programmes? A few of the reasons include: 

Understanding Impact: Without measurement, it's difficult to ascertain the effectiveness of a program. It's like steering a ship without a compass - you might be moving, but are you going in the right direction? By quantifying the outcomes, we can understand if your recognition efforts lead to increased productivity, reduced turnover, higher employee satisfaction, etc.

Continuous Improvement: Like any other business initiative, recognition programmes should be subject to regular review and refinement. You can't improve what we can't measure. By looking at the data, you can identify what's working and what isn't, allowing you to make necessary adjustments.

ROI Determination: Recognition programmes are investments by the organisation. Measuring them helps in determining the Return on Investment (ROI). Are we seeing a lift in key metrics relative to the program's cost? If yes, then your program is running in the right direction. And if the answer is no, you need to re-evaluate your program and understand the gaps to cover them. 

Evidence-based Decision Making: In today's data-driven world, gut feelings or instincts are insufficient to drive business decisions. Measuring the impact of your recognition programmes allows for evidence-based decisions, which are more likely to gain stakeholder buy-in and secure future funding for these initiatives.

Identifying Trends and Gaps: Measuring and analysing the program's data can reveal trends and gaps within your organisation. For example, is there a specific department or demographic that's under-recognized? You can strive for a more inclusive recognition culture by addressing such issues.

Recognition programmes are not a "set it and forget it" initiative. They require ongoing monitoring and adaptation to remain relevant and effective.

To have the right measurements, we need to have the right frameworks in place. Given your years of expertise in the field of employee recognition, how can a well-designed and comprehensive recognition framework positively impact employee engagement and experience?

I would tell my fellow peers one critical thing here; always have a framework as it helps you plan a strategic approach toward what you want to achieve in the long run. A well-designed and comprehensive recognition framework can profoundly impact employee engagement and experience. Here's how:

Boosts Employee Morale: Recognition is key to employee morale. When employees feel valued for their contributions, it boosts their confidence and motivation. A framework ensures that recognition is timely, relevant, and meaningful.

Strengthens Engagement: Recognised employees are engaged employees. They're more likely to go the extra mile for their teams and the company because they know their efforts won't go unnoticed.

Promotes Positive Workplace Culture: Recognition reinforces positive behaviours and practices aligned with the organisation's values and goals. This helps in fostering a culture of appreciation, collaboration, and respect.

Improves Retention: Recognition can increase job satisfaction, affecting employee retention. Employees who feel valued are less likely to look for opportunities elsewhere.

Enhances Employee Experience: Recognition is a key element of the overall employee experience. From the moment someone joins your organisation to the day they leave, their experiences of recognition can shape their perception of the company and impact their performance.

To reap these benefits, it's important that the recognition framework is inclusive, consistent, and aligns with your organisation's culture and values. It should empower everyone - from Managers to Peers - to recognise each other's contributions. And finally, it should not just celebrate the big wins but also the small victories and efforts. After all, recognition is not just about the destination but also the journey.

Vantage Circle’s AIRe framework is known to be an intuitive benchmarking tool that assesses recognition programmes. Could you tell us more about how it supports organisations in strengthening their recognition culture?

Absolutely. We have been working tirelessly to change the whole dynamics of employee engagement. 

We've been researching employee appreciation for years and have created something quite interesting called the AIRe framework. It serves as the core of our program and has significantly impacted how our staff feel about their work. 

The methodology assigns an AIRe Score based on four key recognition themes: Appreciation (A), Incentivization (I), Reinforcement (R), and Emotional Connect (e). This framework is all about maximising the effectiveness of organisational recognition programmes. It addresses a critical question: How can we ensure our program has the greatest possible impact? 

The AIRe framework defines and quantifies recognition along 4 core themes, as mentioned in the paragraph above. But to define it further, I will just explain it to you.

  • Appreciating your employees' behaviours or valuing them for their constant support and effort.  
  • Incentivising recognition to make it more attractive so that the employees aspire to achieve it. 
  • Guiding employees towards desired behaviours or results through recognition. 
  • Attaching strong personal feelings to boost the power of recognition. 

Keeping these in mind and leveraging them, organisations can strengthen their efforts to create a recognition culture. These work as a pillar for someone who is new to the recognition field but wants to make the most out of it. I will recommend my peers try out this free tool and gain as much knowledge as possible about their organisation’s existing system and efforts in elevating their work culture. It will give them the exact data they need to know through which they can make informed decisions and design a program to achieve organisational objectives. 

Based on the AIRe framework, you recently released the Global AIRe Benchmark Report 2023. What were some of the key learnings and insights that you would like to share with our community? 

Based on what I've seen and learned over the years, the success of your organisation is directly related to how well you operate your recognition program. With the greater intricacies and dynamics, it can be tough at first. However, patience is essential in this situation. Before entering the recognition sphere, you must develop a concrete plan and comprehend the framework. That is exactly what we accomplished with our employee recognition program. 

The AIRe framework has helped us tremendously; through it, we have started a new approach toward revolutionising employee engagement. We really focused on the benchmark report, and we did our best to understand how things have been going around in different workplaces. So, what did we find from our research? 

Well, to keep things simple and brief I will answer it in pointers. The findings were:

  • The respondents of our survey (around 64%) wanted recognition to be more meaningful. 
  • 45% of respondents felt that their recognition program is stale and disconnected from what is important at their organisation. Which I think is a major issue because of which the majority of the recognition programmes fail. 
  • When an employer recognises life events and work milestones, employees are 3X as likely to strongly agree they feel connected to the culture, 3X as likely to agree their organisation cares about their wellbeing strongly, and 30%+ more likely to say they plan to be at their organisation in five years. 
  • 57% of HR leaders consider reward selection their top impediment. They may recognise and reward people, but the expressed value isn't reaching the workforce. This, again, is a major roadblock when it comes to successfully driving employee engagement. 
  • 19.9% of employees receive little or no acknowledgement from their direct coworkers. 22.1% of employees are rarely or never recognised by their immediate manager or supervisor. This shows how minimal peer recognition practice is in the workplace. This must be addressed because it is an essential pillar of employee engagement that most organisations fail to acknowledge. 

The authenticity of recognition is materialised through a focused commitment from leadership, their inputs, and investment aligned towards execution. By linking the desired behaviours with business objectives, optimised program design, and a sharp focus on measurability and ROI— AIRe ensures that recognition is impactful to the core.

You’re a strong believer in “what gets measured gets managed.” So when you look at the numbers on the impact of employee recognition programmes and what employees want, what are those top three things that you believe employers must prioritise moving forward? 

Based on my experience and observation, here are the top three things that employers must prioritise when it comes to employee recognition programmes:

Personalisation: One size does not fit all regarding recognition. Different employees value different forms of recognition. While some might appreciate public acknowledgement, others prefer private, personalised messages. Also, the meaning of a reward varies from person to person - some might value learning opportunities, others might appreciate time off, and so on. Utilising data to understand individual preferences and customising recognition accordingly can significantly affect the recognition impact. 

Frequency: Recognition should not be a once-a-year event. Regular recognition helps to motivate employees and keep them engaged consistently. Many studies have shown that frequent recognition correlates with employee satisfaction and productivity. Employers should create a culture where recognition becomes part of the everyday work experience.

Peer-to-Peer Recognition: While recognition from managers is important, recognition from peers is equally (if not more) impactful. Peers understand the day-to-day work of their colleagues and are well-placed to offer genuine recognition. Employers must foster an environment where peer-to-peer recognition is encouraged and easy to do. This amplifies the reach of recognition efforts and strengthens team cohesion and collaboration.

Overall, the goal should be to create a recognition-rich environment that is inclusive, frequent, and personalised. This makes employees feel valued and appreciated and drives positive behaviours that align with the organisation's goals and values.

While Partha has shared a glimpse of Vantage Circle’s recently released Global AIRe Benchmark Report 2023, if you want to understand the framework better, utilise it for efficient implementation, create ‘moments that matter’ and empower your organisation to nurture recognition, creativity and progression, join us at People Matters TechHR India 2023 where Partha has a keynote on ‘Comprehensive Guide To Quantifying R&R Programs for Measurable Results’. Register now to be a part of Asia’s largest HR and Work Tech conference on August 3 and 4 at Leela Ambience, Gurugram.

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Topics: Rewards & Recognition Technology, Benefits & Rewards, #TechHRIN, #HRTech

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