HRO Today July/August 2015 - 31

Employee Recognition
rewarding goals. Double that, the passage of the ACA in
2010 created a renewed interest in employee wellness as a
way to reduce healthcare expenses. Since the law passed,
studies from both Harvard and Rand Corporation have
shown that wellness programs can potentially reduce
healthcare costs by nearly $3 for every $1 spent, making
them an attractive low-risk value.
Early Recognition is Critical
It's safe to say that service awards remain the backbone
and heart of most recognition programs. WorldatWork's
latest Trends in Recognition report finds that 84 percent
of all organizations have a process for honoring years of
service, and for larger organizations, it jumps up to 90
percent. Only 10 percent of our poll respondents admitted
to not recognizing years of service. What's changing is
when companies are choosing to give service awards, and
at what frequency.
Companies are now rewarding employees with service
awards much earlier in their careers than the traditional
five-year milestone. An Accelir poll from 2014 showed that
nearly 70 percent of organizations felt that employees
should start being recognized and rewarded for service
following their first year of work. One in four of
respondents said their service award programs started at
year one. Yes, early recognition is starting to take hold.
For decades, the five-year mark seemed to be the
preferred milestone to start a service award program,
but in today's market, five years is simply too long to
wait. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,
the average job tenure in America is 4.7 years, and for
Millennial workers (aged 25-34), it drops to three years.
Thanks to technology, people are less tied to location and
can pursue parallel careers with more flexibility. Suffice
to say, if organizations not recognizing service or making
some sort of meaningful personal connection early on,
they may miss the chance altogether.
Program Measurement Aligned with Goals
Traditionally, the return on investment (ROI) on
recognition can be notoriously difficult to measure. For
instance, 28 percent of poll respondents reported they
don't measure their program at all, which is common for
smaller companies where the close quarters and intimacy
among staff negates the need for formal measurements.
For organizations that do formally measure ROI, employee
surveys ranked as the preferred measurement method
with 44 percent of respondents in agreement. This is no
surprise given that a vast majority of our respondents had
stated their number one goal for recognition programs
was to increase employee engagement. Here is where
we hit upon the secret to ROI in employee recognition
programs: Aligning rewards around the most powerful
measurement, which is heavily dependent on your goals.
Other respondents measured their program through
customer surveys, productivity, turnover, and program
participation rates. The point here is a strong employee
recognition program has the potential to move all of
these metrics.
That must be why Gallup's Q12 Employee Engagement
Survey puts heavy emphasis on recognition as a driver of
engagement, featuring inquiries like:
* In the last seven days, I have received recognition or
praise for doing good work.
* At work, my opinion seems to count.
* My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about
me as a person.
* In the last six months, someone at work has talked to
me about my progress.
* The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel
my job is important.
While results may be specific to each organization, the
methodology is the same as it's always been: Make your
employees feel appreciated and respected for the work
they do, put a system in place to do it consistently and
sincerely, and then measure results against your specific
goals, adjusting where needed.
Always a Challenge
Recognition programs will continue to grow in 2015, as
they present organizations with a valuable way to truly
connect with and engage their employees, motivate high
performance, and improve retention. While recognizing
someone for their accomplishments is intuitive and
simple as saying thank you, maintaining and leveraging
a recognition program for maximum benefit is always
a challenge. But it's a noble one, and when it works,
everyone benefits.
Cord Himelstein is vice president of marketing and communications
for Michael C. Fina.
JULY/AUGUST 2015
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HRO Today July/August 2015

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