Social Recognition of Employees in the social era

Farmville buffs zealously work their fields, buying seeds and equipment, harvesting and selling crops – all in an obsessive bid to earn points, win badges and rise to higher and higher levels. What has got them hooked to posting needed items, giving plants or animals and adding neighbors is the heart-warming recognition through the barrage of ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ that follow! In fact, the stupendous success of Facebook has proved that people simply love to share what’s going on in both their personal and professional lives across their social networks.

So, why not move these motivational techniques to an organizational platform to offer real-time recognition to employees 365 days a year, even on the go! Everyone wants to be appreciated for their contributions and achievements. So much so that an international strategic group, ‘Recognition Council’ has been formed to provide an awareness of how recognition and rewards, in their many forms, are part of an effective strategy for achieving better business performance! The traditional reward schemes and pay-for-performance incentives are no longer sufficient. The new generation craves constant feedback and praise, that too in a highly visible format.

Social recognition steps in as the new currency that fosters employee engagement, who cares what people think? Turns out … just about everybody. People love to be recognized, but they like it even better when they can share it throughout their company. That’s why we believe in the power of Social Employee Recognition – giving employees the power to share all of their great work company-wide though various features such as Live Recognition. There’s more! Employees can also share the good work they are doing on their external social networks as well such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Give  people a chance to look like rock stars in front of their friends and make them envious of the cool place where they work. It’s more than just an ego boost for people – it’s a shortcut to employee engagement. motivation and retention. This subtle performance management works by adding a social interface to employee appreciation efforts that showcases good work in a public forum.

New technology tools of social media and mobile applications bring informal, immediate, frequent, interactive and visible-to-all element to employee recognition. Now employee efforts, inputs, skills, knowledge and accomplishments can easily be celebrated in the open. In short, move the offline pat-on-the-back to an online realm!

Simple posts like ‘Great job’, ‘Well done’ or even a ‘Thank you for your efforts’ on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or more private company intranets is all that employees need.

The subsequent social feedback in the form of likes, comments, retweets and shares magnify the value of appreciation.

TPG Software topped an all-India survey of ‘Top Corporate Organizations for Best Practices in Rewards and Recognition’ by Edenred, a loyalty solution organization, in association with the Great Place to Work Institute. The highlight of TPG’s rewards program  is that managers personally congratulate people for a good job by writing personal notes about good performance on the company intranet as well as social and professional networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn.

American Express which ranked third, uses ‘RewardBlue’ – an internal intranet to deliver congratulatory messages to well-performing employees.

When employees feel that their efforts do matter and the effect is amplified with the congratulatory notes and approvals all around, the validation affects their self-perception and identity within the organization. The public recognition forges deeper connections, making them more supportive, loyal and eager to improve performance.

The ‘Social Recognition and Employees’ Organizational Support’ research thesis studied over 900 employees in service organisations. It surmises that social recognition contributes to increased self-respect, which means that employees make a greater effort to act in the company’s best interests.

Broadcasting day-to-day employee recognition stories that would have otherwise gone untold, not only encourages the appreciated behavior in the recipient, but also inspires other ‘viewers’ to achieve the exemplified behaviors that drive appreciation and success. The organization also gets an opportunity to epitomize the activities that are expected/liked/valued while reinforcing the desired corporate culture. The elated recipients will in turn tell the world (on social networking sites again) how their company recognizes good work and is a great place to work!

There is an added element of peer-to-peer recognition apart from the customary top-down method as literally anyone can appreciate anyone. This can be used by management in both performance reviews and to identify key talent as well. Eric Mosley, CEO of Globoforce, an employee recognition solutions provider, points out in a Harvard Business Review article, “Employees better understand what performance is desired on an on-going basis while managers can see first-hand an employee’s true performance, behaviors and influence.”

“The bigger business impact of social software in the HR context will be on the organization culture. Social software can alter the organizational fabric and culture, creating a more open and collaborative work environment,” observes Jeffrey Mann, Vice President at Gartner Research. It is easy; it is fast and even safe and secure when used on internal networking sites. The impact is astounding, the value is extraordinary and that too at a nominal cost of the internal technology platform. Apart from this, this innovative recognition is completely non-monetary!

Recognition Council research reveals, “While some incentive clients are ready to use public tools like Facebook and LinkedIn, many prefer to keep programmes behind the firewall; using mechanisms that often resemble Facebook and other social media venues.” Top companies are reaping the rewards by turning recognition into a business asset.

Symantec reported a 16% increase in employee engagement in less than year and KPMG a solid 165%. DHL, Discovery Channel and P&G are also using this medium very successfully. “What sets social recognition apart, is that it is unexpected. Whilst the overall monetary output from the organisation is relatively low, the impact is huge…employees don’t focus on the amount, they are just happy that someone has appreciated and acknowledged what they have done.

That is hugely powerful,” exclaims Sara Turner, Head of Employee Benefits and Wellbeing, KPMG.

Experts opine that combining regular employee recognition programs with social recognition efforts will lead to even better results.

The Edenred study states that top corporate organizations for best practices in rewards and recognition use a healthy mix of money rewards, non-monetary rewards and social recognition, based on survey data taken from more than 13,000 employees, and HR managers from more than 70 companies across 11 industries.

So, seize the opportunity to engage employees and take recognition to a new level to build an enviable employer brand.

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