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RPI’s Building Blocks to Recognition Success

Posted By David Layman, Monday, September 19, 2016

Use RPI’s 7 Best Practice Standards to transform your organization.

RPI’s 7 Best Practice Standards are at the very core of RPI’s Mission to enhance organizational performance through employee recognition. RPI does this by providing access to RPI Best Practice Standards®, education, research and the exchange of ideas.

RPI also fulfills its mission by creating opportunities for members to grow professionally as well as advocating recognition and engagement strategies to promote organizational excellence.

Organizational excellence includes many things – higher productivity, better employee retention, a superior work environment and culture and, of course, increasing the bottom line.

Recognition and engagement have been shown to improve all these areas. For example:

  • Studies have shown that non-financial motivators such as praise from a manager or recognition from leadership have a larger impact on engagement than pay raises or other financial incentives.
  • A study by Bersin & Associates showed companies with recognition programs that are highly effective at improving employee engagement have 31% lower voluntary turnover.
  • Another study found that 78% of workers say being recognized motivates them in their jobs, and 69% say they would work harder if their efforts were better appreciated.

The bottom line is a good recognition program can improve all areas of an organization.

Drive organizational excellence with RPI’s Best Practice Standards.
RPI’s Best Practice Standards are based on knowledge gained from academic literature, professional conferences and shared experiences in developing successful recognition programs.

They are effective for creating, operating and evaluating recognition programs for all types of organizations including public and private sectors, large and small organizations and organizations with single or multiple locations or functions.

Learn more about Recognition.
Not only has RPI come up with these Best Practices to serve as a guide for recognition programs; the organization also offers opportunities to learn how to put all seven standards in place and to better understand how each best practice fits into a successful program. RPI members can participate in Recognition Fundamentals training or take the Certified Recognition Professional (CRP) training.

Recognition for Recognition Excellence.
RPI also walks the walk in recognizing its member recognition experts. Every year, RPI presents the RPI Best Practice Standards Award to organizations that have been particularly successful in implementing one of the RPI Best Practice Standards. The Best Overall Recognition Program Award goes to organizations that have been highly successful putting all seven Best Practices in place. The Recognition Champion Award honors individuals who have shown leadership, passion and dedication in promoting the principles of recognition and serve as a role model for recognition practices. (Nominations are currently open – for complete information, click here.)

For more information about the 7 Recognition Best Practices, go here.

The seven RPI Best Practice Standards are:
Standard 1: Recognition Strategy
Standard 2: Management Responsibility
Standard 3: Recognition Program Measurement
Standard 4: Communication Plan
Standard 5: Recognition Training
Standard 6: Recognition Events and Celebrations
Standard 7: Program Change and Flexibility

Recognition Fundamentals is now available online and is all NEW!
Learn vital information with practical examples and tools for everyday use. Recognition Fundamentals is an overview course of Recognition Best Practices developed from years of implementation and research. This course will help you create awareness and better understand the important role of recognition in the workforce. This online course is an hour long and includes a new Learning Guide for you to implement tools and strategies today. Register here.

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RPI’s Recognition Best Practices: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Recognition

Posted By Administration, Thursday, September 8, 2016

Hit all seven of these principles and you’ll have a top notch recognition program

In 1990, Stephen Covey published his bestseller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Since its publication, it has become the benchmark for how to achieve personal success and enhance performance in both in business and everyday life. Everywhere you look, you will find highly effective and successful people who trace their achievements to the principles of Covey’s book.

RPI’s 7 Best Practices for recognition serve pretty much the same purpose for organizations and business professionals who want to achieve the best in employee recognition and engagement. Following the premises set out in RPI’s best practices can help propel a recognition culture in your organization that can have long lasting effects on company culture, improving morale, boosting productivity, driving engagement, increasing retention of high performing employees – all of which translates into ROI to increase your bottom line.

So, why seven – can’t I just get away with doing two or three of the seven recognition best practices? Well, let’s take Covey’s habits again as an example. As you may know, they are: Be Proactive, Begin With the End in Mind, Put First Things First, Think Win-Win, Seek First to Understand – Then to be Understood, Synergize, Sharpen the Saw.

Obviously, if you just read the first of the seven, Be Proactive, and put that habit to work in your life or business and then put the book down, you will certainly achieve some success. But as you work through the next habit and then the next, you will find that each one builds on the other and brings you even greater success.

RPI’s Best Practice Standards are the building blocks to recognition success

The same is true with RPI’s 7 Best Practices. Individually, they are important but taken as a whole they are transformative

If you implement Best Practice No. 1 – Recognition Strategy – that’s a great start. Using Day-to-Day, Informal and Formal recognition will set you on the road to a great recognition program. If you add Best Practice No. 2 – Management Responsibility – you will certainly travel farther on that road. But adding the remaining five will help create a recognition program that will produce greater success for your company for years to come.

RPI’s RPI Best Practice Standards are based on knowledge gained from academic literature, professional conferences and shared experiences in developing successful recognition programs. These standards have been amended periodically to reflect the lessons learned from previous program cycles, including suggestions from RPI Best Practice Standards judges and award recipients. They are designed to be useful for the creation and evaluation of recognition programs in the public and private sectors, large and small organizations, and organizations with single or multiple locations or functions.

Here are the seven RPI Best Practice Standards®:

Standard 1: Recognition Strategy
Standard 2: Management Responsibility
Standard 3: Recognition Program Measurement
Standard 4: Communication Plan
Standard 5: Recognition Training
Standard 6: Recognition Events and Celebrations
Standard 7: Program Change and Flexibility

Click here for more information on the seven RPI Best Practice Standards.

RPI is a great source of information about how to create a culture of engagement in your company. RPI offers a forum for learning more about the effectiveness of recognition and steps you can take to get started. As a member you have access to the best and brightest in the world of employee recognition and engagement, as well as the opportunity to become an expert yourself through the Certified Recognition Professional (CRP) certification.

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Creating Successful Recognition Marketing with Influencers

Posted By David Layman, Tuesday, September 6, 2016

How to Generate Excitement and Develop Recognition Champions for your Recognition Program

A great communication plan is usually a major part of every great recognition program. But have you spent enough time and attention on communication’s rowdy cousin, marketing?

What is the difference between the two? Isn’t communication part of marketing, and vice versa? Well, sort of, but there are some big differences that require careful planning for each.

Amy Hurley, Program Director, Faculty and Staff Recognition for The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, says that maybe marketing should be receiving more attention in implementing and operating recognition programs. “Communication is getting information to people. Marketing comes with those influencers and champions who are taking that communication out and advocating for the program for you,” Hurley said. “Marketing is making it look enticing, making it look fun, raising the curiosity.”

And for those programs that have been in place for many years, Hurley said marketing is all about “keeping things fresh and interesting.”

So, whether putting together a marketing program for a new program or breathing new life into an existing one, where do you start? Hurley says the first thing to do is take a step back to figure out what types of tools are available within an organization.

"This would be things like the influencers – the champions – the people you know are going to use it and take off and have great experiences and have enthusiasm," she said. “And then you need to know what communication tools you have internally that will be helpful to you – if there’s an intranet, a weekly email or a daily communication; also, if there’s something that’s goes out to managers and leaders, or other key parts of the organization.” Also look at other ways people get information in your workplace, like manager meetings or other types of meetings or events. However, she said, you can’t always use all these for every communication or marketing message or you may lose credibility, “or it will become invisible to people.”

“You need to not only know what your tools are, but also look to those people who own some of the marketing communication tools and talk to them about where can my placement be, or how can I maybe have one of the three pictures you allow in this publication,” she said. “But if you have some credibility with how often you ask for placement you can say ‘I don’t always want the top spot, but for this one it makes sense.’

“Everybody’s fighting for space on these communication tools and you want to make them as meaningful as possible.”

Identifying your Recognition Influencers.

As for how to find influencers for a program within your organization, she says the best way is to look around and identify the people who are excited about the program. Hurley has also used a company-wide communication asking for people who would like to volunteer as part of the organization’s recognition activities.

“We find out who are our biggest supporters,” she said. “It’s like our own internal speakers bureau. They go and talk to other groups, go to staff meetings or help take charge of certain activities.

“We also go to meetings and talk with our leadership, show them stats and things that are going on. We ask for their input and try to incorporate it somehow so they feel like they are vested in the programming. And we have some individual talks to get individual commitments and ask for help.”

Putting it all together.

In terms of planning marketing and communications for the year, Hurley said they use a 12-month calendar which identifies the focus of each part of the program and lists all the tools that can be used in each week or month of the program. They also have a communications calendar and an annual strategic plan mapping out what they want to accomplish in the coming year and the marketing tactics are laid out within that plan, she said.

Hurley’s team markets an ongoing, nomination-based award three or four times a year. She is always impressed by the number of nominations for these awards, so they not only make sure to honor those who win the awards but also the people who submitted nominations.

“One of the things we have incorporated into our programming is we when we do a celebration for our recipients, all the nominators are invited – they’re an active part of it, because we wouldn’t have a program without those people,” she said.

Hurley has seen that the stories of award winners have made an impact on other employees. Recipients are acknowledged with awards and by telling their stories throughout the medical center and on social media.

“We really make sure these people feel special, and they are special for what they do,” she said. “When managers and coworkers thank you for a job well done, and tell you you’re doing things well, that means more than a good parking spot, an increase in salary, a promotion – that’s the main reason they want to stay, that they feel valued.”

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6 Tips to Supercharge Recognition Marketing with Short Term Promotional Campaigns

Posted By David Layman, Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A fun, well-planned short term promotion can energize (or re-energize) your recognition program.

Whether you’re in the planning stage for a new recognition program or trying to bring back the excitement for an existing one, marketing, promoting and communicating is the spark for your program to catch fire with your employees.

While having a well thought-out communication plan is one of the key elements of a successful program, it is also just as important to constantly and consistently market the program to the people you want to use it – your employees.

This is where a short term promotion can be a huge help. Short term promotions can be critical to re-engage employees, drive usage or elevate program awareness. This short spike can be the foundation on which you can grow your entire program over the long term.

Here are some ideas for where to start in creating a promotional campaign:

  1. Set specific goals and objectives.
    What are you trying to achieve and how will you define success? How will you measure an increase in participation? Promotions are designed to reach something real, measurable and specific.
  2. Make a finite plan.
    The most important question – how long will the promotion last? What is the budget? Who will be the champion for the promotion? (This should be a key influencer within your organization).

    What will your messaging look like and how frequent will it be? You should always use your program’s branding to give it a consistent look.
  3. Choose your team.
    Who will be on your promotion team? It’s a good idea to have a good mix of people from different departments in your organization, as well as managers who have influence and are empowered to implement the plan. Upper management buy-in is critical.
  4. Think strategies and tactics.
    Program elements. What tools will you use to drive the campaign? Create a theme. Create a message. You may want to use a combination of social media, printed materials, contests, celebrations, formal and informal company-wide events and promotional giveaways of program-branded items and swag. If possible, create a video to build excitement about your promotion. Then plan a formal and fun kickoff event.
  5. Think measurement.
    Measure and analyze as frequently as you can. Do they match your initial goals to see if it was successful. What worked, and what should be done differently next time. A survey of your employees can give you a lot of constructive feedback.
  6. Keep it going.
    Your promotion may have only lasted a couple weeks or a month, but you may look at using regular monthly or bi-monthly marketing through communications or events to continue to keep the recognition program top of mind. Keep monitoring and measuring participation. It may make sense to increase marketing periodically throughout the year.

    In planning your promotion activities, remember that the overarching purpose of a recognition program to create and perpetuate a culture in which employees feel appreciated and engaged. Great marketing and promotions activities will help drive greater participation and excitement about the program, which will in turn lead to greater employee retention and productivity, making your company a better place to work.

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Recognition Index – Your Shortcut to RPI Recognition Marketing Resources

Posted By David Layman, Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Explore Articles and Webinars and Learn More About Recognition Marketing.

Your recognition program started off like gangbusters, but over the last several months (or years) participation has dropped or stopped altogether. Or maybe you’re starting a new program and wisely planning for high participation that will last.

The key to all this is having a plan for how to best market and communicate about your plan. Not to mention, you need influencers – those people to set the example, walk the walk, talk the talk and keep recognition front of mind for all your employees.

As an RPI member you have access to a wealth of resources on recognition best practices for implementing or revitalizing your company’s recognition program.

All you have to do is go to the member section of the RPI website at Recognition.org, and look for Resources tab. You’ll find a trove of information in the Knowledge Center to help learn more about recognition and employee engagement.

You’ll also find some great resources on recognition marketing, and more useful information is being added all the time so check back frequently. Here is a sample of recognition marketing and communications resources:

RPI On-Demand Webinars --- Marketing Your Recognition Plan/Program

Overview - The 4 Things You Need to Know in Your Recognition Marketing Plan
Presenter: Jason Thomson, Instigator, Jigsaw.

Ugh Factor: How to Make Marketing an Essential Part of Your New Recognition Program’s Success
Presenter: Jason Thomson, Jigsaw

Key Components of a Recognition Program
Presenters: Kevin Cronin, Rideau Recognition Solutions, and Melissa Minkow, Errand Solutions

Recognition Benchmarking Report: See How Your Recognition Program Compares to Your Peers'
Presenters: Ian Citulsky, Carlson Marketing, and Brian Dodds, The Miller Company

Increasing Influence Leverage within Reward and Recognition Programs
Presenter: Paul Hebert, Vice President, Symbolist

Recognition Communications That They’ll Actually Read!
Presenters: Jessica Schwaller and Kathryn Shick, Kforce

RPI Marketing Articles

How to Revitalize a Recognition Brand – by Jason Thomson, Jigsaw
Some questions and solutions for energizing a stagnant recognition program.

6 Fast Fixes for your Recognition Brand – by Jason Thomson, Jigsaw
Ideas offered by the RPI Board members for creating, improving or revising a recognition brand.

The Steps to Build a Great Recognition Brand – by Jason Thomson, Jigsaw
A checklist for building a meaningful recognition brand.

Research Studies

Linking Performance Strategies to Financial Outcomes--The Interaction between Marketing & Human Resources and Employee Measurement & Incentives
A survey among 175 corporate executives was undertaken in late 2003 to study the relationship of the marketing and human resources functions in motivating the behaviors of customer-contact employees and the impact of that behavior on organizational performance.

White Papers

INTEGRIS Health
Communication Plan; Recognition Program Measurement, 2006

Michigan Department of Transportation
Communication Plan, 2003-2004

Scotiabank
Management Responsibility; Communication Plan, Recognition Training, Recognition Events and Celebrations, 2009
Recognition Strategy; Communication Plan; Change and Flexibility, 2008
Recognition Program Measurement; Change and Flexibility, 2007

TELUS Communications
Management Responsibility, 2010
Program Change and Flexibility, 2009
Communication Plan; Recognition Training; Change and Flexibility, 2002

University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers
Communication Plan - University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers, 2005

Wells Fargo
Communication Plan; Recognition Training, 2007

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Be a Better Recognition Marketer

Posted By David Layman, Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Check out these resources and learn more about recognition marketing, social media and the importance of leveraging influencers.

Marketing – it’s not only for your organization’s products and services.

In fact, it can be a critical component of getting engagement, awareness and usage of your recognition program. Managers and employees need constant, memorable reminders about the program, how it works and why it matters to them.

Many of the same principles for marketing a company or product hold true for increasing awareness of recognition programs. The same innovations, technology and trends also can be used to great effect to create excitement among your consumers, who are in this case your employees. (RPI has some great member-access webinars on the topic here.)

Learn more about effective marketing with these RPI-recommended resources:

BOOKS

Contagious: Why Things Catch On – By Jonah Berger
From Amazon.com: "What makes things popular? If you said advertising, think again. People don’t listen to advertisements, they listen to their peers. But why do people talk about certain products and ideas more than others? Why are some stories and rumors more infectious? And what makes online content go viral? Wharton marketing professor Jonah Berger has spent the last decade answering these questions. He’s studied why New York Times articles make the paper’s own Most E-mailed list, why products get word of mouth, and how social influence shapes everything from the cars we buy to the clothes we wear to the names we give our children.

Invisible Influence - By Jonah Berger
From Amazon.com: "The New York Times bestselling author of Contagious explores the subtle, secret influences that affect the decisions we make—from what we buy, to the careers we choose, to what we eat—in this fascinating and groundbreaking work.”

Content Inc.: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses – By Joe Pulizzi
From Amazon.com: "In Content Inc., one of today's most sought-after content-marketing strategists reveals a new model for entrepreneurial success. Simply put, it's about developing valuable content, building an audience around that content, and then creating a product for that audience. Notice a shift?

Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage, and Measure Brand Influencers in Social Media Marketing – By Danny Brown and Sam Fiorella
From Amazon.com: "Social media gives consumers 24x7 access to the attitudes and recommendations of their most engaged peers. These are the views that shape buying decisions. These are the views you must shape and use. Influence Marketing won’t just help you identify and enlist key influencers: it will help you manage the influence paths that lead consumers to buy.”

Light Their Fire: Using Internal Marketing to Ignite Employee Performance and Wow Your Customers – By Susan Drake, Michelle Gulman and Sara Roberts
From Amazon.com: Step by step, learn how to engage employees in the vision of your business and motivate them to think like business owners, thus empowering them to make decisions that build brand and customer loyalty.

Articles

11 Essential Stats for Influencer Marketing – (ION – Influencer Orchestration Network)
https://www.ion.co/11-essential-stats-for-influencer-marketing-in-2016

Top 7 Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2016 – (Forbes)
http://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2015/09/29/the-top-7-online-marketing-trends-that-will-dominate-2016/#6bec71704c04

Marketing Trends for 2016 – Will we be in a post-digital era? – (Smart Insights)
http://www.smartinsights.com/managing-digital-marketing/marketing-innovation/marketing-trends-2016/

The Biggest Content Marketing Trends in 2017 – (Content Marketing Institute)
http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2016/08/content-marketing-trends/

How To Unlock Your Most Valuable Content Marketing Asset--Your Employees – (Forbes)
http://www.forbes.com/sites/briansutter/2016/05/20/how-to-unlock-the-most-valuable-content-marketing-asset-you-have-your-employees/#2ac02b332710

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IFI Market Estimate Research Study

Posted By Steve Slagle, Thursday, August 4, 2016

The IFI research study was released in mid-July initially to the principal incentive trade media, IFI members and the trade associations.

To date, PPAI, IMA and the IRF have published the news and study on their websites and in electronic media. Incentive magazine published the release and plans more coverage; Premium Incentive Products magazine published the news release and plans an article for an upcoming issue; and Sales and Marketing Management magazine plans articles in two of its fall issues. Some of our industry colleagues have been contacted for interviews for those articles.

With the generous assistance of PPAI's Public Relations Manager, Kim Todora, the news release was transmitted to hundreds of general business, advertising, advertising analysts, communications, marketing, market research, public relations,and human resources media contacts the week of July 25. Hopefully we'll have some additional coverage from a number of those media outlets which reach the all important business community with our message.

Steve Slagle
3309 Three Iron Drive
Seneca, SC 29678
864-710-6739
steves3309@gmail.com

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Recognition Around the World

Posted By David Layman, Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Make Sure Your Recognition Efforts Don’t Get Lost in Translation

Pepsi can tell you a lot about the pitfalls of working around the world.

Back in the ‘60s, the global beverage giant took its highly successful “Come Alive! You’re in The Pepsi Generation” advertising campaign to the Chinese market.

The campaign was an absolute bust.

The reason – someone discovered Pepsi’s slogan translated to mean “Pepsi will make your dead ancestors come back from the grave.”

That’s a good lesson for any organization looking to expand operations elsewhere – including recognition leaders What works in North America may not have the same desired effect when used in other countries.

While the need to do your homework might night be earth shaking news, it’s how you approach that homework that’s important.

Two essential elements in connecting with global cultures.
Work with local leaders to answer two questions:

1. Why are we recognizing?
2. What local nuance is required to ensure it resonates in this particular culture?

What is universal is that we know employee engagement works to increase productivity, retain high performing employees and attract top candidates. We also know that recognition is the best way to drive employee engagement.

Working with local managers, leadership and HR, make sure your recognition program is “their” program, not just a program thrust upon them and it must be done a certain way. Programs should reflect the culture, needs and desires of the local employees. If not, employees may view it as an imposition and perhaps resent it as something that is strictly an “American” thing.

Regardless of culture, every individual wants to feel valued, and that their work is important to the success of the company. Employees need to understand that recognition drives results, and the recognition program is there to give employees the appreciation they desire.

If you need help making changes to an existing program being put in place in another country, or implementing a brand new program, the experts at RPI can help. RPI offers a great forum for learning more about the effectiveness of recognition and how to create a culture of engagement in your company anywhere in the world.

To learn more about Recognition strategy, feel free to contact RPI with any additional questions. As a member you have access to the best and brightest in the world of employee recognition and engagement. You can also become your company’s go-to expert on recognition by earning RPI’s Certified Recognition Professional (CRP) certification.

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International Recognition: Bridging the Cultural Divide

Posted By David Layman, Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Working with International Leaders inside your company can help customize programs in other countries.

International recognition programs have grown incrementally as the world has become more connected than ever before. This growth into other countries and cultures has had a major impact on not only business strategy, but also strategies for recognition and employee engagement.

A Towers Perrin survey found that “recognition” serves as one of the top five drivers for attracting candidates in the UK (it tied tied for top spot across the EU). Recognition programs are also rapidly growing in Asia and Latin America. So, the need for employee engagement and recognition extends far beyond just North American companies.

Kathy Stark, current president of Recognition Professionals International, has seen recognition programs successfully expand to locations around the world. Stark has 39 years of experience within her own company. She spent 19 years in operations and management and another 20 years in Human Resources, where she has been a manager involved with employee programing and recognition strategy.

While there are some differences to consider internationally when developing and administrating programs that drive the business strategy globally for the company. Many of the challenges related to international recognition remain the same. “Globally the focus is on the highest levels of recognition areas and usually the most consistent across international and domestic boundaries,” she said.

“In a large company, the best practice is to look at the overall recognition strategy. Then you move down into local strategy, and give leadership at the local level more ability to manage day to day recognition in a way they would like to do and what their population would like within established guidelines.”

Recognition – Think global, act local.

The concepts of employee engagement, and how recognition drives engagement, are the same around the world. No matter where a program is implemented, managers and employees need to understand the reasons – and the individual need – for employee recognition and how to give it.

“It is important to make sure leaders understand, this is not just a nice thing to do – this drives performance and business results – and to make sure they understand how it does that,” Stark said. “A critical strategy for success is to have partners on the ground when new locations open, and to deploy people there to help them understand recognition overall, and the strategies and how to put that all into place.”

Equally important is to have a strategy for how to support all employees across the globe, as well as how to apply its recognition programs across an entire company. While the program is basically the same all over the world, local leaders help make it work for unique needs of different locations, to ensure the program resonates with people in that country or culture, and to make changes if necessary.

Lean on local contacts to market it the right way, administrate it in the right way and what are those cultural differences to account for,” she said. “When planning large formal events hosted by senior leadership always take into consideration what those cultural differences are when planning those events.”

RPI is a great source of information about how to create a culture of engagement in your company – anywhere in the world.

To learn more about Recognition strategy, you can start with RPI’s 7 Best Practice Standards and feel free to contact RPI with any additional questions. RPI offers a great forum for learning more about the effectiveness of recognition and how to start a new program or adjust an existing one.

As a member you have access to the best and brightest in the world of employee recognition and engagement, as well as the opportunity to become an expert yourself through the Certified Recognition Professional (CRP) certification.

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The Need for Recognition is Universal

Posted By David Layman, Monday, July 25, 2016

Consider Cultural Differences for Employee Engagement and Recognition in Other Countries

Employee engagement is growing across the globe as more companies look to implement and grow recognition programs internationally.

According to Aon Hewitt’s 2016 Trends in Global Employee Engagement, the Asia Pacific region has shown the largest rate of improvement in employee engagement, with engagement rates in Europe, North America and Latin America growing modestly.

Companies are increasingly looking at ways to engage employees in international offices. At its core, recognition is the same everywhere in the world. All employees want and need to be appreciated and recognized. However, a recognition program that works in North America may not work perfectly in Europe or Asia without making some tweaks or changes based on cultural differences.

Roy Saunderson, Chief Learning Officer at Rideau Recognition Solutions, is an expert at helping companies establish or assimilate their programs in other parts of the world. He has worked in eight European countries as well as in Asia.

Saunderson says too often we go in with a cookie cutter approach and say ‘this is the program we use here, so this is what we’re going to use’, instead of saying ‘this is the system we use, how can we tailor the programs to fit our division here in whatever country?’

“We need to learn to accept these differences and do a little cultural assimilation,” he said. “If people realize a program is a tool then they’ll design a program that is an effective tool for each country. But you have to be much more aware of the unique differences.”

For instance, he said, many Asian cultures have more of a collective, communal mindset. So for them, team recognition is more important than individual recognition. In fact, being set apart and publicly acknowledged individually can almost be seen as a negative.

Rewards vs. Recognition – Key Drivers Around the World

In some countries, employees are much more money-focused. Other cultures often view rewards as recognition – seeing the words as synonymous. By defining terms and differentiating between recognition and rewards, the concepts begin to resonate more.

“Often, they do not understand, appreciate or comprehend how Americans can get a trinket and be happy,” Saunderson said. “They absolutely can degrade that kind of recognition.”

“So when you start to share with them that money doesn’t have the same impact in all situations, they can start to understand. But it’s going against the cultural grain. When I tell people that positive feedback will outweigh any negative feedback, they start to get it. When you educate them on how to give feedback, they start to realize ‘that would be kind of nice to have.’”

In some countries, there is initially an aversion to recognition, Saunderson said, but using employee surveys he is able to point out that their employees want recognition and should be giving it to them.

“In some countries, the intangible doesn’t mean anything to them – money is the only thing that talks,” Saunderson said. “You have to be very mindful of cultural practices and norms, and be aware of monetary economic comparisons from one country to another. Then you have to start to look at the education required for how you appreciate people, how you give recognition the right way.”

Respecting Cultures – Finding Out the ‘Why’

Educating people in other countries about recognition is important, but at the same time it is crucial to respect cultural differences.

“You have to start off with the strategy as to the ‘why’ of recognition,” Saunderson said. “Education, listening and respect are so critical. You’ve got to talk to them one on one, do the focus groups. Once you understand their why, now you might be able to create a program or practices that address those concerns.”

There will still be some aspects of the culture you have to acknowledge and you have to be careful not to superimpose programs and say this is the ‘North American way’, he added.

Break it down to universal needs.

“It’s universal – everyone wants to be recognized. But respect is at the core of recognition and we need to respect the cultural differences. Knowing that our programs are a tool, not the end all be all – there will be times when we need to customize our programs to other cultures.

“We want people to feel valued. We want results to improve, and we want to improve engagement so that will address how productive people are and how engaged they are as far as giving discretionary effort,” Saunderson said. “But that’s only an outcome. We have to be careful how we are getting there. Don’t pretend our programs are going to be a universal approach.”

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Thank You, Business Partners

2018 Recognition Professionals International

1000 Westgate Drive, Suite 252
St. Paul, Minnesota 55114
Phone: 651-290-7490 | Fax: 651-290-2266 | info@recognition.org
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