We all love to be recognized for our efforts. While I’ve had several bad bosses during my work life, I also had one boss that I hold in the highest regard. The core of his ability to be a good leader was firmly rooted in his compassion for his employees and his ability to offer people sincere recognition in the moment. I was an intern with the organization while working on my master’s degree and I was awed at how many people had worked for this guy for years, decades even. He didn’t make it a secret when he recognized people, like calling them into his office to quietly give them an award and a few words of praise. His approach was to make sure that the world knew it when they went above and beyond in their jobs. I even served on a committee called the “employee action committee” where we would hold events throughout the year as part of a proactive approach to recognize employees for their hard work. Did it take time away from doing other things? Yes. Did some people see it as a waste of time, effort, and money? Yes. But when it came time for my internship to end, I actually teared up in his office when I told him that I had accepted another job. In the short time I was there, he helped nurture my career and I knew he sincerely cared about my future. And that’s at the core of why people want to be recognized. Many don’t want money. They don’t want some award to stick on their desk. They want to know that their efforts matter; that their leaders appreciate them.
The double-edged sword of recognition
While employers create recognition programs with the best intentions, many programs crash and burn over time due to three main issues. First, recognition often stops with the employee receiving it; it isn’t communicated to the world. Second, recognition isn’t personalized for each individual employee. Third, recognition often becomes inconsistent if the program isn’t being managed properly. If these three issues crop up in your recognition program, then two things can result. One, employees may feel that recognition programs are biased and employers show favoritism and, two, the program will not inspire the desired behaviors and actions by employees. So, it’s not just recognition, but the right kind of recognition that’s the key here. Consider the following statistics from Globoforce:
“The number-one reason most Americans leave their jobs is that they don’t feel appreciated. In fact, 65 percent of people surveyed said they got no recognition for good work last year.”
“Organizations with recognition programs which are highly effective at enabling employee engagement had 31 percent lower voluntary turnover than organizations with ineffective recognition programs.”
“Nearly 75 percent of organizations have a recognition program,” but “only 14 percent of organizations provide managers with the necessary tools for rewards and recognition.”
Perhaps the last two statistics are the most telling. Most employers want to recognize their employees’ efforts, but they don’t have the right tools for the job. But like so many things in business, technology has come to the rescue once again in the recognition game.
There’s an app for that
Chris Dornfeld is President and Co-founder of Bonfyre, a company that, simply put, is tasked with helping employees become more engaged by using their Bonfyre application. “Bonfyre is a private workplace communications platform that engages employees through dynamic chat, photo and video sharing, and a variety of interactive tools and features. The interface is intuitive and easy-to-use allowing every member of a Bonfyre community to share ideas, recognize co-workers, celebrate success and more effectively communicate with each other - regardless of location,” said Dornfeld.
Like many traditional business processes, recognition programs can be mired in bureaucracy and, therefore, ripe for the kind of change that technology can provide. “Recognizing progress and small wins might be even more important than formal programs that are infrequent and slow to evolve. Generally, company recognition programs are large and expensive programs with formal submission process, approval processes, program administrators and material incentives,” said Dornfeld. “Bonfyre is focused on peer-to-peer recognition that is easy to access and use. This convenience significantly increases the frequency employees both give and receive recognition – increases the overall value of the program, increases the impact (as the real time updates are more closely tied to actions), and gives employees more buy-in to the entire process.”
Apps like Bonfyre not only allow employees down the hall or across the globe to communicate with each other and recognize each other’s accomplishments using posts and emojis, similar to popular social media platforms, but they can also be customized to fit in with almost any recognition program. “Technology is a major part of how we communicate at home and at work, from social media to email. It is a natural evolution for companies to foster culture in a digital way, as well. Couple this with the fact that nearly half of the workforce currently works remote at least part of the time, a digital platform for employee engagement and recognition is not just important but critical to success. We describe Bonfyre as the employees’ app. What makes it so powerful as a recognition tool is how it is integrated with the entire social communication and engagement platform. The recognition tool can be customized to integrate and leverage existing programs within an organization and improve their ROI. We also have companies using Bonfyre as their only employee recognition initiative,” said Dornfeld.
Employee recognition, like most business functions, will continue to evolve over time. For Dornfeld, it’s an exciting time to be a part of that evolution. “In the long run companies will need more flexible HR systems that both recognize and incentivize each individual’s performance based on each individual’s needs. Only then will companies really unlock the potential of their workforce,” said Dornfeld. “Part of this evolution will be looking at recognition programs as valuable sources of information to understand things like employee sentiment, relatedness and what behaviors are being valued in an organization. Some people see badges and chat, we see a new type of Human Resource Business Intelligence that will create great value for the employee and company alike.”
For more information on the Bonfyre app, please visit www.bonfyreapp.com.