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Recognition in The Real World
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Recognition Drives Organizations – Here’s How to Know How Much

Posted By Jason Thomson, Instigator, Jigsaw, Thursday, October 15, 2015

Recognition may be the fastest, cheapest and smartest path to elevate performance management.

But how do you know?

While effective measurement is a critical part of any organizational initiative, “recognition” hasn’t traditionally fit a quantitative mold in the way that sales or marketing has.

That’s changing. As the practice of recognition matures, so does the understanding of what it can accomplish – and in turn, the way it’s measured. The concept of recognition has shifted from being a tool for motivation to one that can influence everything from employee engagement to culture.

Leaders in financial services, transportation and education continue to invest in recognition because they see value in recognition. That value can be determined in a number of ways:

Know what to look for.

What makes for a successful recognition program? Organizations view measurement in terms of how well the program is used and delivered, and the outcomes it influences.


Do people recognize one another? Do peers get involved, or is it mostly manager-led? Are those numbers increasing or decreasing? What level of overall awareness does the program enjoy?


Are people recognizing each other frequently? Are they recognizing the right way? Are training or communications messages around delivery effective?


What organizational outcomes does recognition affect? Are engagement, retention or specific behaviours on the increase or decrease? Can you correlate those increases or decreases to recognition?

Tie it to your employee survey.

To understand usage, delivery and influence, you need a venue for measurement. An obvious approach is to include questions regarding each in an all-employee survey.

But that’s just a starting point.

Look to other initiatives in HR, IT, Operations, Sales or Marketing. Are those initiatives being measured? Can you include data collection within this measurement by relating to the content? An internal marketing initiative, for example, might include a survey. Include few questions on how recognition is being used to coach content delivered that initiative.

Qualitative measurement is also effective because there is a significant human element to recognition itself. Collecting stories that demonstrate the power of recognition in improving performance can be a helpful way to illustrate data or general success.

Draw on technology.

If your program has a technological component – like an e-card element – it becomes easier to measure things like usage and delivery. Employee contests can be another avenue to gain insight into how effective the program is doing overall.

Keep measuring.

Don’t wait for once-a-year occurrences like surveys to advance your measurement. Find ways to understand how well your program is doing on a regular basis. Talk to key influencers and get a snapshot of opportunities and challenges. Collect stories from the frontlines. Enable technology to understand awareness and usage. By drawing on a comprehensive network of measurement tools, you ensure that recognition is understood as the critical business process it deserves to be.

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