4 Key Ingredients for a Personalized Employee Recognition Experience

Don't Put All Your Eggs in One Basket!

Today the phrase “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” is commonly associated with financial investments.  Put all your money in a single asset and you run the risk of losing everything. But by diversifying your portfolio, you minimize that risk.  In other words, for those who celebrate Easter, this is the only time of year when it’s safe to put all your eggs in one basket. So how does all of this relate to your employee recognition experience? 

According to Inc.com, over half of the American employees will be Millennials by 2025, many of whom are already moving into leadership positions as Generation Z joins the workforce.  Baby Boomers will continue to play a vital role making up an estimated 20% of the American workforce in 2020.  And perhaps most startling, nearly 65% of employees may change jobs in 2020.  Today’s modern workforce is more diverse and fluid than ever.   An “eggs-cellent” employee recognition experience is no longer just important… it’s essential!

Now we could tell you exactly what areas your employee recognition program should focus on based on industry data, but we’d be doing you a disservice. Why?  We don’t know your employees or your organizational goals. What works for one company may not work for your company. To be successful, we are going to focus on the recognition experience of your program.  It must be built upon the individual needs of your individual employees. We may not be able to give you an exact recipe, but we can give you the ingredients to successfully create impactful personalized experiences that your employees will love.  


Egg #1: Personalized Rewards

First, as uniquely diverse and varied as your workforce is, are you personalizing your recognition efforts?  It should come as no surprise by now that a successful recognition experience should be built upon the idea that each employee is uniquely different.  For example, employees with young children will have different needs than those who are say…” empty-nesters.” To meet the needs of today’s workforce, your employee rewards should be just as diverse as they are.   

Many employers mistakenly assume that monetary rewards are more important to employees than non-tangible ones, but research suggests otherwise.   Many find praise and emblematic recognition to be just as, if not more, valuable. In fact, a study from Harvard Business Review showed that there was less than a 2% correlation between pay and job satisfaction.  Instead, a flexible recognition program can help your diverse employees be more productive, healthier, creative, and engaged.  

Egg #2: Meaningful Recognition

Is your recognition meaningful to your employees?  Rewards are only half the puzzle! It’s much more effective if it’s done in a way that is unique to the individual.  Employees respond better to meaningful recognition because it confirms their work is appreciated and when they feel valued, their satisfaction, engagement, and productivity rises.  Why is this so important? Well, consider these facts:

  • A highly engaged employee is absent 41% less often than their counterpart (Gallup)
  • Companies with highly engaged employees are 20% more profitable (Gallup)
  • 68% of employees consider leaving their job if they don’t feel meaningfully valued by senior management (Staples)
  • Employee engagement can increase retention by 30% – 50% (Robert Half)

However, remember that the definition of “meaningful” is not the same for everyone!  We are all uniquely different. What makes one person tick, may make another tock. For example: In a study conducted by Gallup on rewards and recognition, only 10% of surveyed employees said being recognized in front of their peers is most meaningful to them.  That leaves out an extraordinary number of employees!  

Egg #3: Consistent and Timely Recognition

Annual meetings during which plaques are given and employees are recognized once per year are quickly becoming the dinosaurs of the past.  Did you know that individuals were more likely to turn in their letters of resignation on or around their work anniversaries and the highest percentage occurred around the one year mark? 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average tenure of a salaried employee is now 4.2 years, and that number drops to 2.8 years for employees aged 25-34 years old.  Today’s workforce prefers (and expects) more consistent and immediate recognition of their work. Don’t wait until their one or five year workiversary.  Letting employees know they are valued on a regular basis will increase motivation and drive productivity and engagement.  

Egg #4: Value-Based Recognition

Individual needs and desires also tie into the big picture; employees respond better to a value-based recognition program in which they are recognized and rewarded for actions that exemplify the company’s core values.  In fact, values-based recognition programs are 70% more successful overall.  However, a recent Deloitte survey found that over 50% of employees said that their company’s recognition program did not align with the organization’s goals and values. Today’s workforce wants to feel like they are part of something.  They want to know that their hard work and effort is directly tied to the success of the company they work for and a values-based recognition program does just that. It’s a win for the employees and for the organization as this will align desired behaviors to increase productivity and overall satisfaction in the workplace. 


The Takeaway

Today’s successful recognition programs are becoming a personalized experience that seeks to understand an employee’s individual needs and work to fulfill them. And don’t be afraid to evolve.  There’s no “set it and forget it” for employee recognition. As your employees and business grow, you’ll probably find the need to adjust your recognition program accordingly. It is crucial that you ask the right questions and find out what makes each of your employees tick!

The ways in which you recognize your employees should be just as diverse as your investment portfolio, otherwise you run the risk of ending up with a lot of broken eggs in your basket.  Springtime brings a chance for renewal and second chances. Now is a great time to build your killer employee recognition program or reevaluate and build upon the one you already have. Today’s workforce feels more empowered when given the ability to choose when, where, and how they are recognized.  So, throw away those stale Peeps and egg-shaped candies and ask your employees what they’d like most in their baskets…then go out there and fill them!



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