The Power of Employee Recognition

  • Alen BubichJanuary 26 2018
It's not all about the Benjamin's!

Benefits of Employee Recognition

What makes your employees tick? More specifically—what motivates them to go above and beyond their job duties to help the organization find and win the best possible talent? Money? Time off? Prizes?

It turns out, one of the most powerful and memorable rewards you can give an employee is actually quite basic: Recognition.

I’m not suggesting you shut down your bonus programs, say “thank you” and call it a day. But it’s worth considering what the full package of your incentive program includes to be sure it serves up both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards for maximum impact.

Extrinsic Rewards

Extrinsic reward programs are common. A successful referral hire results in a $500 bonus in the referrer’s next check, or an extra vacation week off, free lunches for a year, or even a new car (we’ve seen it!). These rewards appeal to our base consumer desires for money and stuff and experiences. They’re easy because they’re measurable, tangible, and everyone on board understands their value. They’re effective motivators because they dangle a very visible carrot in front of potential referrers.

Intrinsic Rewards

Intrinsic rewards appeal to higher philosophical desires like acceptance, achievement, and recognition. And they’re powerful, lasting motivators. A $500 bonus might be forgotten shortly after it’s spent, but for most humans, being publicly recognized among peers is tops among memorable moments of ones entire career. These kinds of rewards are endorphin-magnets, which then induce feelings of good will and accomplishment associated with the employee’s job, and the company. Intrinsic rewards are more likely to increase loyalty and job performance, too.

There are numerous ways to use intrinsic incentives to foster a sense of goodwill for and investment in your ERP from employees. For the purposes of this blog, we’re going to focus on recognition. In our travels among ERP programs that stand out, the role of recognition came up again and again.

Recognition is a mechanism with a range of applications, from a simple thank you to a company-wide ceremony and everything in between. In any case, the more meaningful the recognition, the more impact it will have. Here are some ideas for incorporating recognition into your ERP pipeline to keep employees engaged in the referral mindset.

The Application Process

When a new prospect applies through an employee referral, a simple thank you is perfect at this stage. Maybe it’s a verbal thank you passing in the hall, or a nicely-designed email or small card, or the employee’s favorite donut waiting on their desk in the morning (customization is always a nice touch). Simple is key at this stage. Recognition should be organically-tied to each successful stage of the hiring process. But starting small and simple right away will keep the connection between the referral and feelings of appreciation fresh, and allow for bigger recognition at the offer phase.

The Big Offer

Once a referral has successfully passed the application and interview phases and an offer is made, a larger recognition for the referring employee is in order. It’s important not to be redundant—if you offered a thank-you card at the application phase, consider taking the referrer to lunch, or out for a drink with close colleagues after work. A couple of event tickets is a great choice for this phase, too.

Welcoming the New Hire

When a new team member accepts an offer and begins work at the company, an email announcement to welcome the new hire and publicly thank (and encourage others to thank) the referrer is an easy but powerful way to keep the chain of appreciation and recognition going without overdoing it.

In your welcome email, be clear about what a great asset the team feels the new candidate will be, and recognize the referring employee’s role in bringing them on board. If you can tie the hire to specific anticipated benefits for a department or small group—do! This encourages other employees to appreciate the referrer, too, and energizes the group about the process of bringing new talent on board, which will benefit your referral program.

Note: While most employees love to be recognized among their peers, some may not like the public spotlight. It’s good practice to let the employee know you’ll be mentioning them in the welcome email, and give them a chance to opt out if they wish.

Recognition Tied to Job Performance

At the 90-day mark (or six months, or one year—whatever performance evaluation intervals are in place), recognize any significant contributions the new team member has made at the company, and take the time for a final thanks to the referring employee for their part. This last phase of the intrinsic incentive process can be either private or public, large or small, but it provides an important connection between tangible results of the hire and closes out the referral cycle on a positive note.

Whatever your incentive system—intrinsic, extrinsic, or a hybrid of both—phasing those incentives into the pipeline instead of a “one-off-and-done” approach helps referring employees see the real-world results of their referral, which then increases the chance that the referring employee will re-engage with the ERP when the opportunity arises.

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