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How Awards Complement a Social Recognition Program

Peanut butter and chocolate, macaroni and cheese, or s’mores and campfires. All because something is already good doesn’t mean an addition won’t make it great. Social recognition has quickly become the premier way of showing appreciation and recognition to each other, but the traditional award should not be forgotten. They are capable of being two great tools that work great together.

Why Both?

When we look into the problems with recognition, we see that employees regularly have two complaints: they are not recognized often enough, and lacking adequate recognition makes them twice as likely to quit. Social recognition is a solution for the frequency problem by design, but as helpful as repeated recognition at a moment’s notice is, major moments demand major recognition. In a workplace survey done by Gallup, employees made it clear that recognition means the most when given by their manager or a high-level leader (28% and 24% respectively). It is clear that employees do put significant value on the plaques and awards given to honor their tenure and momentous occasions.

Keeping Things Fresh

One aspect of creating a culture of recognition in your company is making frequent, real recognition commonplace. While it is ideal for encouraging the use of social recognition, it does need new experiences to break the monotony. This concept is called the Adaptation-Level Phenomenon, so when the excitement behind the smaller recognition moments begins to dull, that can be an ideal moment to splash in larger, more memorable moments. Take certain moments to add something special. An award for twenty years of hard work stands out when presented by company leaders, but other options could include taking employees out for a dinner or crafting a personalized photo album highlighting special moments with their coworkers.

Of course, financial bonuses can be worked into this cycle as well, but the most important thing to consider is keeping these moments significant. If you catch your company chasing the excitement of their previous special perk or recognition moment, you’ll quickly find how impossible it will be to meet those expectations. This is another reason to allow your employee to choose their customized experience. Perhaps certain employees always consider the dinners with their leaders the best experience while others only want a big presentation on occasion rather than on every milestone.

Painting a Picture

Combining these larger recognition concepts with the more frequent social recognition is a fantastic way to connect employees to your company’s bigger picture. If you utilize major milestones as pillars for your smaller, rapid recognition from a social platform to connect between, you create an intricate web of real recognition highlighting each other. Smaller recognition shines often and large recognition is the spectacle it was meant to be. Together they paint an image, and when employees take a peek at what’s happening at the workplace they’ll be able to take in the full scope.

Looking at Your Options

Real recognition allows employees to feel a sense of achievement, something fundamental for creating a thriving workplace given that 90% of employees insist their recognition program impacts their engagement and motivation positively. With that in mind, it is vital to utilize all possible variants of recognition, both larger scale, and frequent social recognition. As we discuss in other articles on this site (such as Seven Tips for a Successful Online Recognition Event), there are numerous ways to make significant recognition events for employees without breaking the bank. Patricia Odell explains this succinctly, “Cash is no longer the ultimate motivator,” summarizing their work on reward vs recognition.

The moment-to-moment use of structured vs on-the-spot recognition is something each leader needs to determine and utilize to their greatest potential. Neither option is perfect on its own, so perfecting the use of both is required to reach your recognition goals. After all, why only have peanut butter when chocolate is there for the ride?

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