Steve is the cofounder and CEO of Awardco, a fast-growing rewards and recognition company.
The employee journey encompasses the entire time an employee spends at an organization, from their first interview to the day they leave. But the journey isn’t just a timeline—it’s a complex web of interactions, conversations, compensation, recognition and more that shape the employee experience.
How do you ensure employees are engaged and productive throughout their stay? More importantly, how do you make employees want to stay at your company for as long as possible instead of leaving for greener pastures?
One of the best ways to accomplish these goals is employee recognition. Recognizing your team doesn’t mean just giving one-off compliments; a far-reaching culture of recognition should underline each employee’s journey. That’s something I’ve tried to do at my company, and I want to share some of the strategies I’ve learned.
Breaking Down The Employee Journey
Different people break the employee journey down into different stages, but as a general rule, these are the stages employees go through.
• Recruitment: This is the process of attracting and hiring new employees. This includes employees seeing the company’s online presence, applying and interviewing.
• Onboarding: This includes training new employees and helping them understand the company culture and their role.
• Engagement: This is the process of keeping employees motivated, satisfied and invested in a shared purpose at work.
• Development: This means assisting employee growth by ensuring they have an upward trajectory and a clear path of progress.
• Separation: This is the process of an employee leaving the company.
Recognition can be a sure-fire way to spread motivation, engagement and productivity throughout each of these stages.
How To Use Employee Recognition During Each Stage
Recognition Strategies For Recruitment
Potential employees are going to do their research. They’ll look up the company online and see what other employees are saying. They might even talk to existing employees they know to see what they think.
Here are some ways to make sure these early impressions are positive.
• Frequently recognize your employees over social media. Job seekers will see this and know that the company cares about its people.
• Train interviewers to talk openly about how the company recognizes and rewards its employees.
• Incentivize employees to leave reviews and reward those who do. Trust in your culture of recognition and let employees share their true opinions.
• Survey applicants to learn their favorite drink or snack and then provide it for them when they come in for an interview. Send them a handwritten note thanking them for their time after their interview.
Recognition Strategies For Onboarding
Starting a new job can be frightening or overwhelming for many, but recognition can smooth the transition and help employees gain the confidence and support they need. These strategies can help employees feel supported from day one.
• Give a welcome gift basket to each new employee, and fill it with personalized items or snacks that the employee will love.
• Provide a budget for employees to buy the office equipment they need to work effectively and comfortably from wherever they’ll work.
• Allocate each team a budget to have a new-hire party, complete with games and food, so new employees can get to know their team.
• Extend onboarding throughout the first year by recognizing new employees on their month, six-month and year mark. Recognize their hard work and efforts to learn.
• Encourage managers to recognize all of their direct reports. Manager-to-employee recognition is extremely effective, so ensure leaders know how and when to recognize effectively.
Recognition Strategies For Engagement
Keeping employees engaged at work is a never-ending struggle for many leaders. And while recognition isn’t a panacea, it can go a long way to improving engagement levels for everyone. It’s no coincidence that employees are four times more likely to be engaged when they’re recognized enough.
Here are some ways to make that happen.
• Create recognition programs that celebrate employee milestones, including birthdays, weddings, having a child and holidays. Birthdays should be special for employees, too.
• Come up with incentives that reward employee participation and help drive behavior. Wellness incentives, safety incentives and professional development incentives are great ways to recognize employees’ wants and needs and empower their growth.
• Ensure recognition happens more often than once or twice a year. Train managers to regularly recognize and implement programs that show employees appreciation as often as possible.
• Encourage peer-to-peer recognition so employees look for ways to thank their co-workers for their efforts. Peer recognition is a powerful tool for keeping employees satisfied and engaged.
Recognition Strategies For Development
More than 60% of employees agree that upskilling is important to them when looking for a job. Employees want to know they can learn new skills and grow as professionals, and recognition can help this happen. Here’s what you can do.
• Incentivize professional development opportunities to create more buzz and excitement around these programs. Recognize and reward employees who participate to show that you truly value those who put in the work to better themselves.
• Recognize those who go above and beyond. By recognizing the extra efforts employees put in, you’ll show that you notice their hard work. Plus, 92% of employees repeat excellent work when they’re recognized for it, according to Achievers’ 2020 Engagement and Retention Report (registration required), which surveyed 1,154 North American adults in October 2019. So, you can drive productivity as well.
• Reward top performers with more responsibilities and with greater compensation. To retain the best talent, recognize their work and reward them for what they do.
Recognition Strategies For Separation
When employees leave, recognition might not have a big effect. However, exit interviews are a great way to recognize the departing employees’ work while getting an honest assessment from them on your recognition efforts. This will help you see where you can improve.
Laying A Foundation Of Recognition For Each Employee’s Journey
One of the best ways to attract and retain top talent is through recognition that’s spread throughout their time at the company. By having recognition programs that touch each stage of the employee journey, you can be sure employees will always feel appreciated, supported and valued.
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