Social Recognition Media

Harmeet Chhabra (Chief Technology Officer, APAC Region – Grass Roots India) on how the mechanism of recognition is changing

Given the competitive nature of the workforce and zeal with which they approach their careers, keeping them loyal and motivated within the organisation, just got a lot more difficult. Employers are forced to try everything in the book to attract the best talent. This has created a more complex set of drivers to extract employee loyalty; the following are a few examples

1 Organisation performance and stability
2 Remuneration
3 Work culture
4 Rewards and benefits
5 Manager to employee and peer to peer recognition
Today, there is little doubt that organisations do need to rethink on their employee engagement strategy and focus on key principles of effective people engagement. Recent thinking challenges the effectiveness of extrinsic drivers, such as reward to influence employees’ behaviour.

The modern workspace environment is undergoing some radical changes. Organisations must recognise these trends and begin leveraging social tools and technology to deliver effective employee loyalty solutions. They should in fact integrate such systems and processes into the organisation’s DNA.

It is recognition, not reward
According to Dan Pink, chief speechwriter to Vice President Al Gore and a respected business author, “employee recognition is one of the most effective, but least utilised motivational tools today”. Another well known author F G Harmon who writes on similar subjects endorses the sentiment. “The real value of recognition is its ability to encourage rather than reward behaviour.”

This raises a question; if it is so valuable then why is recognition so underutilised? The answer lies in the fact that until recently there were a lot of barriers to delivering effective employee engagement programmes. These barriers emerged from the attitude of people who linked recognition to reward. Their rationale was, “why should an employee be rewarded for doing his or her job?” So, they waited till an extraordinary behaviour showed up. Then again the additional layers of approval, required for the reward element to be implemented, further complicated the entire process. Complex technologies turned recognition into a process rather than a key driver to influence employee behaviour.

The time is changing
We are living in a time of exciting social, technological and financial changes. The barriers mentioned above can now be overcome, thanks to the recent changes.

Social media applications like Facebook, Twitter, In, Yammer, Google+ enterprise services have changed the way we connect and interact with each other. Enormous success of these applications clearly demonstrate the underlying principles of effective user engagement. Last year, 73 per cent of Fortune 500 companies were active on Twitter, while more than 80 per cent of executives believed social media engagement led to increased sales. Thus, social media has largely been limited to marketing and community building functions at companies. But a recent report by McKinsey showed that a majority of the estimated USD1.3 trillion in untapped value from social technologies lies in “improved communications and collaboration within and across enterprises.” In other words, social media is poised to become an office productivity tool, the same way email did in the late ‘90s.

A new generation of employees is making important changes at the workplace. Their energies are driving new expectations, like instant gratification and the need to be engaged in a two-way communication. They want to have a conversation rather than be at the receiving end of a statement. Many companies are struggling to understand these changes, whereas the ones that do are exploiting and using them to deliver new solutions with new ways to engage with internal audiences.

How does it work?
Social recognition, using the social media route as a solution, has just been pioneered by one of the largest software companies. No, it is not just about reinventing recognition. It is all about using social technology to improve and magnify the effectiveness of employee recognition – on a scale never before imagined. An effective employee recognition solution directly results in more loyal employees and greater loyalty levels. Social recognition is about user interfaces that make recognition visible. This gives people the ability to interact with information and build stories. It is about involving a wider audience in a live conversation about values, priorities and people. Most importantly, it is about gathering information which is generated by significantly increased levels of interactions and provides many positive insights into the thoughts, attitudes and behaviour of employees. It is important to understand that not all employee recognition drives engagement.