By Rob Seay, Director of Employee Experience, Bonfyre
Do your company core values guide your recognition practices?
Although it may seem like common sense that they would, company core values and recognition programs haven’t always intersected. Historically, most recognition programs prioritize rewarding tenure, retirement, and outcome-oriented performance over behaviors representative of company values. However, a recent trend has emerged. According to the Society for Human Resources Management(SHRM), the number of recognition programs that incorporate value-guided recognition has increased by 10 percent in the last five years.
Company values have a powerful influence over the employee experience. Research shows that employees who know and fully understand organizational values are 51 times more likely to be engaged than those who don’t (Modern Survey).
Tying recognition to core values is a start, but from an operational standpoint, we should think critically about the type of recognition that makes these principles top of mind.
Why do we care about company core values?
Core values are a Rosetta Stone, helping employees decipher the language of their work environment. Company values also serve as reference points for the behaviors that define success at work. As such, it’s critical that they’re defined and thoroughly articulated. When these principles aren’t known, understood, and communicated, it opens the door to dysfunction in the company.
But beyond serving as behavioral guidelines, core values inform the purpose of our work. It’s human nature to look for meaning in our jobs and finding meaning in work might be more important than personal happiness when it comes to factors like retention, job satisfaction, and engagement (Fast Company).
How does micro-recognition shape company core values?
Company values are communicated through your recognition practices. Who you recognize and don’t recognize sends explicit and implicit messages to employees about the behaviors expected of them. For example, when someone gets a certificate for outstanding sales performance, it signals to other employees that the behaviors and accomplishments of the person recognized are noteworthy, valued, and reflective of the culture the company wants.
The inherent power of micro-recognition, then, lies in its flexible nature. Unlike macro-recognition, micro-recognition is owned by everyone. It’s a process driven by leaders and employees in which recognition is exchanged from all directions as frequent, informal instances of sincere social praise, which happens in the moment.
Value-focused micro-recognition creates action-items out of the reference points provided by core values. Micro-recognition’s immediacy targets specific moments and behaviors that hold particular relevance to the individual employee.
This sincere, personalized form of attention makes clear to the individual how company core values manifest within a specific job, and it’s going to be more memorable to John than if we were vaguely talking about how he acts with integrity at the quarterly meeting. And that personal attention is not to be underestimated. The Aberdeen Group reports that 60 percent of best-in-class companies find recognition to be an extremely valuable way to drive individual performance (Globoforce).
If you want recognition to identify how employees can live out core values through their jobs, recognize immediately, often, and with sincerity. Macro-recognition can still be tailored to your value system, but save it for remarkable moments that need the dignity it provides. For everything else, unleash the power of micro-recognition to communicate and shape your company core values.
Rob Seay is the director of employee experience at Bonfyre, the workplace culture platform that helps employees to connect and relate.