The U.S. may be in the process of economic recovery, but the 2008 recession left scars on workplace practices. The improving job market has made many employees more likely to job-hop after growing accustomed to dissatisfaction with their positions. Employers are also more selective and more likely to poach talent from their competitors to ascertain that they hire the best in the field.
For a manager, it is crucial to ensure that employees are fulfilled and dedicated to your company by showing them an appreciation for their efforts. You can easily make positive recognition a part of your organization’s culture by implementing employee recognition programs. The key to successful employee recognition programs is setting them up before lack of recognition is a problem. Amber Johnson, Director of Operations at Incentive Solutions, says, “Employers often don’t think about retention until it’s too late, and an employee has already been poached or become disengaged. You lose time and money training a new employee, at that point, so why not put those resources into retaining employees, instead?”
During the recession, employees suffered through cost cuts and lay-offs. Many employees found themselves in positions and on career paths in which they were disengaged, but they did not seek other employment due to job market instability. In recession recovery years, however, employees were ready to jump ship. A 2010 survey conducted by RightManagement found that 60% of the North American employees they questioned stated “that they intend[ed] to leave their current employer as the economy improve[d].”
Many employees eager to leave their jobs in post-recession years are young people who first entered the workplace during the recession. The RightManagement survey suggests many were unhappy with their positions in 2010 and had only maintained them due to economic hardship. When employees have not had a chance to develop a sense of loyalty and belonging, it can result in commitment-shy attitudes toward work.
The other problem facing managers in the current workforce is talent poaching. The Incentive Research Foundation released a study in 2014 that examined poaching: “The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that over two million job postings continue to go unfulfilled. And even though the ranks of people out of work remain high, companies have shown unprecedented selectivity by targeting the best employees of their competitors.”
In the hiring environment of today, companies want to make sure they’re bringing the best of the best onboard and don’t mind hiring from the pool of those already employed. Losing talented, experienced employees is as much risk as losing employees to disengagement. Competitor organizations may be prepared to offer prize team members a higher salary. It’s vital, therefore, to develop strategies that foster community and employee satisfaction.
The Recognition Program Solution
Rather than losing staff to poaching or decreasing engagement, you can take measures to retain and motivate employees. Showing recognition and appreciation to employees is one of the best ways to make them feel connected to their workplace. Recognition can perk up post-recession employees who may have developed cynical attitudes toward company loyalty. When employees are disinterested and unmotivated, they need more than a monthly paycheck dropping into their bank accounts, unseen, to feel a sense of pride in their position. When they feel recognized for their hard work, they will value being part of the team. Recognition also creates a deeper sense of belonging beyond just salary or commission, generating loyalty and comradery in employees that may be at risk of being poached.
Employee recognition programs are designed to make appreciation an integrated and ongoing part of the workplace. Incentive companies like Atlanta-based Incentive Solutions offer rewards and recognition platforms whose configurable technology makes them easy to incorporate into company websites and mobile apps. Employees then receive accolades for above-standard performance in the form of points they can redeem for merchandise and excursions. Add-on modules like the Total Recognition Suite allow for both manager-to-peer and peer-to-peer recognitions, to promote not only a feeling of respect from manager to employee but a greater sense of teamwork between co-workers. The module also features a communication interface similar to social media, drawing users to the familiar structure.
Studies released by Keating Advisors and The Forum for People Performance Management and Measurement support the use of employee recognition programs to boost employee retention and productivity. Keating Advisors recommends that managers “identify individuals across the organization who are high-value contributors. Let them know that they matter through merit increases and promotions, high-visibility projects, formal, and informal recognition.” The findings of The Forum’s study on bank employees encouraged recognition programs, reporting that the programs made workers “feel more supported by the organization, and therefore display more loyalty.”
As the economy recovers from the recent recession, issues like job-hopping and job poaching have become more prevalent. Motivating employees is necessary in order to retain them and keep them committed. By instating an employee recognition program, managers can make appreciation and rewards a part of their work culture, encouraging productivity and loyalty.
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