In an increasingly challenging global market, every organisation’s adaptability to find new ways to reward excellent work and engage new sources of talent will continue to be critical for sustaining innovation and growth.
Recent employee engagement surveys support this claim. In comparison with non-thriving employees, engaged employees perform 27% better overall and 89% better on innovation. Also, they are 79% more committed to the organisation.
Employee engagement and happiness is important for another significant reason too – employees today have access to performance management tools that tell them whether their performance has been good or bad with in-depth analysis of their execution of daily, weekly, monthly and annual work priorities. With such insights, employees have become clearer about what they deserve. Simply put, just a paycheck and basic benefits will no longer suffice.
One survey suggests that companies which sent care packages to their people during the pandemic saw a 17% boost in virtual employee engagement and productivity projections.
Engaged employees consciously strive to bring more to work than what is required in their role to elevate their performance to the next level. When they bring their best to the work every day to deliver top-notch performance, it becomes the leader's responsibility to reward and recognise them constantly.
What do high-performing organisations do differently?
High-performing organiaations deliver the best to their employees by building their own rewards agenda based on their unique organisational values and culture. They achieve this by having accurate data management, clearly defined goals, and a strong employer brand:
To have a robust performance management system, HR needs to ensure that their employee data management is accurate, which can be achieved by addressing differentials such as pay parity, diversity etc.
Organisations must align their employer brand with their rewards strategy and use the latter to encourage their people to advocate for their brand.
HR must gather data from multiple sources, including internal and external surveys, research reports and more, and evaluate what their people expect from their organisation - and then design the ideal workplace culture.
In my opinion, effectively accomplishing these can be true business enablers as they provide leaders with the necessary insights to align priorities with business outcomes.
The importance of trust in leadership
When leaders have accurate and authentic insights, they can do wonders. It is equally important to get this productive information from the right sources, and I have witnessed people becoming more efficient when organisations get this aspect right.
In my experience, impeccable transformation occurs when an organisation switches from ratings-based systems to evaluating performance based on individual's strengths and how well they have been leveraging those. As a leader, this approach would give me a better understanding of the performance of my team members, and I believe that other leaders would experience the same when the switch happens.
In this setup, my focus would be on what 'I' can do with each of my team members' strengths because we are reliable raters of our own intentions and feelings regardless of how we assess other individuals [team members].
Research also suggests something similar.
According to the Global Workplace Study 2020 by ADP Research Institute, an employee is 14 times more likely to be fully engaged if he or she trusts the team leader.
When the organisation has accurate data management practice, well-defined employer brand and established trust in each of their leaders, they will have the base to build a rewards and recognition structure that attracts people, makes them stay and deliver their best each day.
What makes a structurally strong rewards system
Organisations with high success rates have one thing in common – they have clearly understood and defined the behaviours and responsibilities that are key to the organisation and its vision, mission, and goals. Everything from enhancing customer relationships to helping employees expand their managerial skills to fine-tuning critical processes or successfully implementing a two-year project, becomes a direct result of how leaders exchange those expectations with the employees.
I believe that such a well-defined set of behaviours and responsibilities are crucial for a structurally strong rewards system.
I have witnessed that employees that are part of a strong value-driven system don't worry about rewards and recognition, they simply focus on productivity. The reason is simple – they trust their leaders and the organisation to reward them with something meaningful in consistency with their achievements.
'Your efforts are praise-worthy'
As a HR leader, I believe that acknowledging and appreciating excellent performance and behaviour is best done through simple expressions and statements. Sometimes an instant reply from the leader that reads "This idea is nice and refreshing" can boost productivity more than waiting for an occasion to reward that idea.
While a personal note has its significance, showing a colleague, the manager, and everyone above in that hierarchy that someone from their team or span has done an excellent job is an unmatched recognition. In my experience, the employees feel more valued and wanted for their performance when this happens.
Spontaneous reward or recognition gives instant satisfaction, but public recognition can make a long-term difference. For instance, writing a few words of appreciation with a few popular hashtags on social media can do wonders for an individual’s confidence and expose that individual to a large audience; we have all seen those numerous 'likes' that every appreciation note on LinkedIn gets!
Several organisations also reward teams and individuals in front of thousands of colleagues during their annual events, and they even cite examples of the recipient's impact on the organisation to inspire others to get creative and make a difference. Add families to the mix and one can only imagine the world of good it would do the individual's self-worth.
At a time when every employer wants the best, telling your employees that they used their innate strengths well to deliver great results (whenever they do) can be a game changer. This will encourage that individual to take her/his performance to the next level and make your organisation a talent magnet.