HR Insights 5 min

5 FAQs To Get Managers on Board with Employee Recognition

September 8, 2015

You may have noticed that we’re huge advocates of employee recognition. Sometimes that includes rewarding them, but mainly we love the idea that you can motivate and inspire employees in a positive way. Not only is it great for the employee being recognized, but it’s a really fun place for HR or managers to be focusing their energy. Add peer-to-peer recognition into the mix (which is an amazingly positive and powerful experience for them) and you’re well on your way to creating a positive culture.

We’ve hosted several webinars on this topic—exploring different avenues of how to build productivity or creating an effective program—and have encountered a lot of questions from HR professionals about how to get their bosses on board. They want them to to see the same type of value HR sees in it. We thought it would be helpful to share some of the questions that came up and how to handle these situations. Here are the top 5 most frequently asked questions surrounding employee reward and recognition and getting buy-in from the boss:

1. How can I get higher-ups at my company to adopt these ideas and start using reward and recognition? Executives and leaders care about numbers. They know employee engagement, retention, and revenue are affected by employee productivity, and productivity is affected by employee recognition. Ask them these questions:

· Do they care about employee engagement? Your people will feel more engaged when you recognize them more often and more thoughtfully. In a Global Workforce study, companies with more engaged employees had a 19 percent increase in operating income and 28 percent increase in earnings per share over one year.

· Do they care about employee retention? Your employee retention will improve when you put time into recognizing and rewarding people. According to Globoforce, 80 percent of workers who are appreciated stay with their companies. At the same time, 55 percent of employees would leave their companies for a company that has a formal recognition program. In addition, employee retention is a great place to measure the effectiveness of your reward and recognition programs.

· Do they care about the bottom-line? Of course they do! Now you’re really speaking their language. Employee engagement and retention both directly affect your company’s bottom-line. Put together some reports and show that employee recognition is of value to your leaders. They’ll start listening. As Josh Bersin said, “Organizations that give regular thanks to their employees far outperform those that don’t.”

2. How can I get managers to remember to recognize people without being a nag? I can’t stress enough that you won’t have to nag when recognition becomes a large part of the culture. When you focus recognition on the right behaviors that support your company’s culture, it becomes the culture. Give your employees ways to recognize each other and make it fun and timely. Many times, this type of program becomes so embedded into the culture that once you get things started and get others on board, it will take on a life of its own. When the standard is built into the culture, you need only guide it and the rest will fall into place. No nagging needed—it will happen organically. That’s the best way.

3. How can I get my boss to allow time (longer lunches, extra time off) as a reward? We’re all busy. We all have a ton to do, but if we think we won’t be able to function if we let our employees have a break or some time off, then we have bigger problems than we realize. I’ve learned that when you give people time away, they come back more energized and more productive than when they left. That’s why your people should be getting time away. To me, time away is a great way to reward employees. Maybe start off small by asking for an extra hour at lunch occasionally to reward a few deserving employees. Then show how your employees are becoming even more productive because of it.

4. In my company, we’re cutting costs but I’d like to use employee recognition and even rewards to keep morale up. How can I when I have a non-existent budget? There are many ways to recognize and reward without spending a penny. One simple way is to just make sure you’re thanking your people—thank them for specific things and make it public, so everyone else sees who is being recognized and for what. You may be surprised how much power a simple “thank you” (for a specific behavior or action) can have. Other ideas include dress-down days or telling the story of a great behavior in a company meeting or other public forum. The beautiful part is that it doesn’t need a huge budget—just thoughtful and careful planning.

5. How can I get execs to reward employees with what employees SAY they want, instead of what execs think they should want? One of the most important things about reward and recognition is that it’s got to be tailored to your people. You can’t give one-size-fits-all recognition. People are different. One person might love to be recognized and applauded in the weekly meeting, while another person will be embarrassed by it. The trick is knowing all of your people well enough to know if a quiet email thanking them for their great work will be best or shouting it out to everyone with a bullhorn. We have a client out of Australia, RedBalloon, who uses BambooHR to record how each of their employees likes to be rewarded—like candy bars or favorite restaurants. When it comes time to reward an employee, the manager or HR only needs to check out their “favorites” and it’s easy to customize the reward for that person. That’s one simple (but thoughtful) way to tailor rewards to every individual. But it mainly comes down to how well you know your people. If you don’t feel you know them well, that’s a great place to start!

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