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International Recognition: Bridging the Cultural Divide

Posted By David Layman, Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Working with International Leaders inside your company can help customize programs in other countries.

International recognition programs have grown incrementally as the world has become more connected than ever before. This growth into other countries and cultures has had a major impact on not only business strategy, but also strategies for recognition and employee engagement.

A Towers Perrin survey found that “recognition” serves as one of the top five drivers for attracting candidates in the UK (it tied tied for top spot across the EU). Recognition programs are also rapidly growing in Asia and Latin America. So, the need for employee engagement and recognition extends far beyond just North American companies.

Kathy Stark, current president of Recognition Professionals International, has seen recognition programs successfully expand to locations around the world. Stark has 39 years of experience within her own company. She spent 19 years in operations and management and another 20 years in Human Resources, where she has been a manager involved with employee programing and recognition strategy.

While there are some differences to consider internationally when developing and administrating programs that drive the business strategy globally for the company. Many of the challenges related to international recognition remain the same. “Globally the focus is on the highest levels of recognition areas and usually the most consistent across international and domestic boundaries,” she said.

“In a large company, the best practice is to look at the overall recognition strategy. Then you move down into local strategy, and give leadership at the local level more ability to manage day to day recognition in a way they would like to do and what their population would like within established guidelines.”

Recognition – Think global, act local.

The concepts of employee engagement, and how recognition drives engagement, are the same around the world. No matter where a program is implemented, managers and employees need to understand the reasons – and the individual need – for employee recognition and how to give it.

“It is important to make sure leaders understand, this is not just a nice thing to do – this drives performance and business results – and to make sure they understand how it does that,” Stark said. “A critical strategy for success is to have partners on the ground when new locations open, and to deploy people there to help them understand recognition overall, and the strategies and how to put that all into place.”

Equally important is to have a strategy for how to support all employees across the globe, as well as how to apply its recognition programs across an entire company. While the program is basically the same all over the world, local leaders help make it work for unique needs of different locations, to ensure the program resonates with people in that country or culture, and to make changes if necessary.

Lean on local contacts to market it the right way, administrate it in the right way and what are those cultural differences to account for,” she said. “When planning large formal events hosted by senior leadership always take into consideration what those cultural differences are when planning those events.”

RPI is a great source of information about how to create a culture of engagement in your company – anywhere in the world.

To learn more about Recognition strategy, you can start with RPI’s 7 Best Practice Standards and feel free to contact RPI with any additional questions. RPI offers a great forum for learning more about the effectiveness of recognition and how to start a new program or adjust an existing one.

As a member you have access to the best and brightest in the world of employee recognition and engagement, as well as the opportunity to become an expert yourself through the Certified Recognition Professional (CRP) certification.

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2016 Recognition Professionals International

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