Effective employee recognition is sincere and timely!

Truly great, effective employee recognition needs to be embedded in and grow from company culture. (Photo via edandeddie, Flickr)

Employees are ahead of many executives in understanding the importance of culture to business success.
“Without culture, strategy cannot be fully effective. Employees agree, yet executives are still missing the point a bit,” writes Globoforce VP Derek Irvine in his blog post, “Culture Drives Employee Engagement, Not the Other Way Around.”
Business strategies are most successful when all employees — at every level — are committed to “living the culture by demonstrating the core values in their daily work” and are “reinforced, praised and recognized for doing so,” according to Irvine.
“Your employees are watching, closely,” Irvine writes. “Are you really living the core values?”
When your company has a strong sense of culture, employee recognition (and how to implement it) comes much more naturally.
You’ll also have an employee recognition program that intuitively reflects the needs, preferences and personality of your workplace and people. All great recognition is frequent, personal and genuine, but did you know everyone has a preferred “appreciation language”?
The first question to ask when developing a recognition program isn’t “How do we recognize excellence?” but “Who are we, and what do we stand for as a company?”
Own your employee recognition program! Read on for ideas on building a recognition program that’s inspired by culture, plus an example of one company who does it right.

Who Does Your Culture Belong To, Anyway?

A recent post by HR Bartender Sharyn Lauby digs into the idea of culture and why it matters. What (or who) makes culture? Who ultimately ends up owning it?
These are great questions to ask when you’re reevaluating or creating a recognition program, because how your company shows appreciation and celebrates employees is a direct reflection of the values at the core of your culture.
Lauby quotes a survey by The Workforce Institute at Kronos that asked various groups, “Who defines and is accountable for workplace culture?” The results are revealing:

  • 40 percent of Millennial employees said that employees define culture.
  • 33 percent of HR pros said they define culture, with only 10 percent of managers and 3 percent of employees agreeing.
  • 26 percent of managers said the executive team defines culture, while only 11 percent of HR pros and 9 percent of employees felt the same.
  • 28 percent of employees said “no one” defines culture.

These numbers don’t inspire confidence. There appears to be a major disconnect between how influential any given group thinks they are, and how others perceive that influence.
And employees saying “no one” defines culture is a bad sign! When “no one” defines culture, then is there even really a culture?
“Organizational differences about who owns culture is a significant finding. If organizations aren’t on the same page about who owns culture, then how can they maintain it?” Lauby writes.
The study did show consensus in one important area: how to strengthen culture. Employee training, development and well-being ranked at the top.
“Organizations have to create ‘communities’ that give each individual a chance to contribute. Employees who do not feel they are a part of the company culture are sure to disengage from it,” Lauby writes.

How Culture Inspires Employee Recognition

Quest Nutrition: Where Culture Feeds Employee Recognition
Quest Nutrition is a great example of a company where great culture drives great employee recognition.
Founded in 2010, Quest makes and markets wildly popular low-sugar nutrition bars. The company is so successful that it’s built a $1 billion business in just six years. That’s remarkable growth, especially in the crowded nutrition bar industry!
“Yes, the product is good, but so are others,” writes Inc. contributor Josh Linkner. “How the heck did they conquer much bigger competitors in record time?”
The answer is in Quest’s corporate culture, defined in a 25-point “Quest Belief System.”
Among the tenets of Quest’s 25 Core Beliefs: personal growth is the highest priority of all Team Quest members; Quest is a safe place to make mistakes; and motivate and inspire those around you.
Quest co-founder Tom Bilyeu explained the company’s mindset and recognition approach in a recent in-depth interview:

“…my partners and I, we all celebrate a growth mindset, we talk about it, we go in on it every day trying to get better and better and better [and] when someone comes along from the outside and they have a great idea, not only do we implement that, but we celebrate that person for having contributed that. That’s just created this environment where there are a lot of people swirling around this company that want to help, that know their ideas will be heard and cherished and it just creates a cool vibe.

Quest is doing everything right when it comes to employee recognition! They’re creating a culture that attracts and celebrates employees, and in turn drives and inspires regular appreciation.

Want to Build a Culture of Every Day Employee Recognition?

Download our FREE Day-to-Day Celebration Calendar for HR tips to engaging, recognizing and building a happy and loyal workplace. This one-of-a-kind eBook will help you build everyday workplace spirit with month-by-month guides, case studies, research highlights, how-to recognition advice and celebration ideas for specific holidays and anytime.

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