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Recognition in The Real World
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Learn from the best, tips from MIT on building employee engagement

Posted By Kathie Pugaczewski, RPI, Monday, October 29, 2018

Each year, companies are spending almost $750 million per year on engagement. Companies know that creating an engaged culture is important, but the problem is that the spend is not being returned with only 50% of the potential market has been tapped, with only half of the organizations stating an interest in engagement programs actually investing.

So the question needs to be asked, how can you increase employee engagement and create a recognition culture within your organization?

In 2016, RPI awarded Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT as it is better known as, the top award amongst recognition professionals, the RPI Best Practice Standards® Award. The institute began their award winning recognition program in 2001. Prior to this, the Institute was seen by staff as a “praise free zone”. So how in the span of 15 years did the Institute create a major internal cultural shift and build a recognition program that continues to grow? The answer lies within the seven RPI Best Practice Standards®.

Make it robust (Standard 1: Recognition Strategy)

By creating a robust recognition strategy, MIT was built a recognition program that has legs. A multi-tiered model approach, like the one used at the Institute, allows leaders and employees to provide rewards and recognition for all levels of behavior. As we know, recognition does not always have to mean a large ceremony every time an employee or coworker does something worthy of recognition. Instead, building daily “on the spot” awards into a program allows for flexibility and authenticity to the awards. Making the accomplishments measurable ends credibility to the program and removes questions of favoritism, a plague that we know can sink a recognition program in an instant.

Top Down Buy In (Standard 2: Management Responsibility)

To kick start their program, MIT tapped into their senior leaders and staff to be their program champions. From the start, they were included in the development and roll out of the program. Senior leaders and managers serve as key role models by encouraging attendance and presenting at the recognition events, and utilizing the program themselves. Often times, these leaders make up half or close to half all of the “on-the-spot” awards submitted and are frequent nominators for the larger awards.  

Train, Teach, and Train again (Standard 5: Recognition Training)

The MIT model does not only work because of it’s multi-tiered approach to recognition, but because at the start of their employment with MIT, staff are trained on the program. Throughout their careers, MIT provide staff with additional trainings on the program and ample opportunities to be involved in planning of the large year end event. There are articles and tools readily available to all staff and employees on the program and an intranet site dedicated solely to the program creating a single location for all program information.

The MIT Recognition program is a phenomenal example of a program that is built to last. These are only 3 of the key ways the MIT program has grown into an adaptable and award winning part of their culture.

Read more about MIT’s award

Learn more about the 7 best practices for building your recognition program and how you can become a certified recognition professional.

Tags:  employee engagement  employee recognition  employee retention  MIT  RPI 7 Best Practices 

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