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Recognition in The Real World
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Takeaways: Why Most Recognition Programs Don’t Work (And What to Do about it)

Posted By Ava Ewald, Wednesday, April 29, 2020

In RPI’s April 2020 webinar, Dr. Paul White spoke about a few of the reasons why a recognition program may fail. While recognition programs may have great intentions, the way they are received may be a different story. In this webinar, Dr. White showed the importance of paying close attention to your recognition program.


1.       Employees’ attitudes toward unsuccessful recognition programs

Dr. White explained that he has spoken with many employees who have negative opinions of their employer’s recognition programs. One of those opinions, he explained, is that the employer only created the recognition program to check a box, not necessarily to appreciate their employees. Creating a recognition program is not enough — you need to tune in to employees’ emotions and ideas in order to properly recognize them.


2.       Recognition versus appreciation

While both are necessary in a recognition program, Dr. White made it clear that recognition and appreciation are not the same thing. Recognition is for specific actions or job performance, while you appreciate an employee for their overall value or qualities. Dr. White stressed that both need to be part of a recognition program for it to be successful. The #1 factor in determining an employee’s enjoyment of their job comes from how appreciated they feel.


3.       The 4 conditions of feeling valued

Dr. White also shared the core conditions of a successful, impactful recognition program. First, the recognition must be regular. If you recognize an employee once, that employee will not continue to feel appreciated. Second, they must be appreciated in the way they want. For example, some people do not enjoy being recognized in front of a group. Taking the extra step to make sure they enjoy an event or item will make the recognition much more impactful. Third, you must individualize recognition. Make sure you understand your employee’s hobbies, favorite sports teams, musicians, etc., to add a personal touch to the recognition. Finally, while you may be authentic in your recognition, you need to make sure that it is received that way. If your employee thinks you are just checking that recognition box, you will not make an impact.


Tips for Appreciating Remote Workers:

Research shows that remote employees often have different preferences for appreciation than their in-person counterparts. Now that many employees are remote, these preferences are important to keep in mind. Dr. White explained that remote employees often prefer quality time over gifts, words of encouragement, etc. Finding time to have one-on-ones with employees will allow them to feel supported and heard.

-          Take advantage of video conferencing when possible. While nothing can fully substitute in-person communication, seeing facial expressions and hearing voices promotes human connection.

-          Do not skip the small talk. Make time to connect with employees about non-work things.

-          Move forward by discussing potential positive outcomes for your organization.


Overall, now more than ever is it important to maintain genuine, human connection. If you would like to checkout Dr. White’s full webinar, click here.


Learn about RPI’s 7 Best Practice Standards here

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Tags:  employee appreciation  recognition  webinar 

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