6 myths of do-it-yourself (DIY) recognition programs

July 22, 2019 Lynne Levy

3-minute read

hammer and nails

Have you ever used a do-it-yourself recognition solution? Many years ago, I was part of an organization where our vice president walked around the office once a month and handed out American Express Travelers Cheques as recognition. Everyone would eagerly anticipate who would get the gift each month, and then get frustrated and angry when it was not them.

I also worked for an organization where recognition consisted of an HTML nomination form and four different approvals before a $10 gift card was sent to the employee, usually several weeks after the nomination. Many times the employee did not even remember why they received the recognition.

In reality, these homegrown solutions rarely improve engagement, trust, or productivity – regardless of the form they take. In many cases, they can actually increase disengagement.

If your company currently uses a homegrown recognition solution or is thinking about building one, check out these six most common myths of DIY programs that we hear from customers:

  1. It’s simple, right?

A recognition solution is so much more than software or gift cards. Human psychology, habit formation, organizational goals, best practices, and motivation need to be considered to build a program that improves employee experience, and builds a culture of trust and positivity.

  1. The same thing works for everyone.

Different things motivate people. Whether you’re serving employees in multiple countries or different roles in the organization, you need to consider how to motivate each employee type

  1. Cash is enough to motivate.

A reward experience should be personal and memorable, and research shows a program that only offers cash will not elevate culture change and employee engagement. A study from the University of Toronto Rotman School of Management and Evolv, Inc. found that employee happiness resulting from a pay action only lasts one to four weeks.

  1. Set it and forget it.

For recognition to be fully embraced by employees, you need visible leadership support, internal marketing, launch planning, training, and sponsorship. Change management is an ongoing process to drive continuous value from your recognition program.

  1. A reward is a reward, regardless of the country.

Not all rewards mean the same thing across countries. There are different standards-of-living that should be considered in the program. A gift of “dinner out” will have a different value depending on location. You need a process to manage rewards that are given from someone in one country to a person in another country.

  1. The program will not be misused.

Think about how many office locations and departments exist across your organization. If you implement your own recognition solution, you need to ensure a consistent recognition experience across each one, as well as establish safeguards to ensure the program cannot be manipulated by employees and/or leaders.

Although building a recognition program may seem simple and logical, homegrown recognition programs are more complex than many anticipate and do not improve organizational culture. Recognition solutions have many benefits, but that doesn’t make it a simple task.

When built with an understanding of human motivation and organizational goals, an employee recognition program with the right reach, frequency, and volume can give you a wealth of benefits that a DIY solution can only dream of

The Workhuman® Analytics & Research Institute finds:

  • 2x lower turnover for employees who are recognized 7-10 times a year
  • An increase in year-over-year performance with 5+ awards per year
  • Engagement increases with just 1-2 awards per quarter

To design this type of program takes insight, knowledge, and ongoing support, all of which comes with a Workhuman® partnership. The way we work is changing – and you don’t have to do it alone.

Before you start the process of building an in-house solution, our guide “8 Smart Questions to Ask About Homegrown Recognition Programs,” to learn more.

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About the Author

Lynne Levy

Lynne Levy is a Workhuman evangelist who lives and breathes helping organizations build cultures that bring out the best in the employees. Her mantra is “do what you love, love what you do.”

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