Recognition & Inclusion

As the worksphere experiences a cultural shift and diversity trends gain momentum, it’s important to remember that ever-changing corporate environments require nurturing. Implementing a structured approach for practicing recognition and inclusion on a regular basis is the single best way to foster a positive culture in increasingly diverse workplaces. Not only will these elements promote the health of your organisation overall, but they will also increase employee satisfaction, retention, and performance. We at Unipos are passionate about employee engagement and building a healthy workplace culture, so we’ve compiled some key facts and top tips to help you and your team practice recognition and inclusion today.

The Facts About Diversity Trends

We’ve seen in recent years a significant trend towards companies hiring for diversity, which has led to a current workforce that is wonderfully varied. This has paved the way for more opportunities for more people, with strides being made towards gender equality, cross-generational fertilisation and increased representation across cultural, racial, socio-economic backgrounds and more. Recruiting for diversity is not only a much-needed step towards inclusion in general, but it’s also highly profitable for companies too. McKinsey & Company provided the following statistics from their Diversity Matters report:

  • Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.
  • Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.
  • In the United Kingdom, greater gender diversity on the senior-executive team corresponded to the highest performance uplift in our data set: for every 10 percent increase in gender diversity, EBIT rose by 3.5 percent.
  • The unequal performance of companies in the same industry and the same country implies that diversity is a competitive differentiator shifting market share toward more diverse companies.

Businesses across the globe have woken up to the incredible benefits a more diverse employee cohort can offer, but now it’s your job as a manager to ensure that you are maximising these benefits. Recruiting for diversity means nothing if you don’t practice recognition and inclusion.

Recognition

Let’s face it, we all want to feel that we are trusted to do our jobs well. There is little more disheartening for an employee than feeling like their hard work is undervalued, going unnoticed or has little to no impact on the broader organisation. Too often, employees can go for days just feeling like another cog in the machine. In this kind of environment, feelings of dissatisfaction, apathy or frustration will pile up, making workers more focused on this than reaching their full potential. On the flip side, when employees are motivated in their roles, it will boost both their productivity and their overall satisfaction.

A recent whitepaper commissioned by Great Place to Work-Certified company, asked the question:

“What is the most important thing that your manager or company currently does that would cause you to produce great work?”

Great Place to Work-Certified company, O.C. Tanner

Overall, 37% of respondents stated that more personal recognition would encourage them to produce better work more often. While other themes like autonomy and inspiration did surface, recognition was the most dominant, illustrating the importance of affirmation, feedback and reward for motivating employees to do their best work.

The Harvard Business Review posits that “the single greatest advantage in the modern economy is a happy and engaged workforce”, informed by the research that generally, “happiness” raises business productivity by 31% and sales by 37%. Employees who are motivated regularly outperform unmotivated employees because not only does recognition boost your employees’ sense of intrinsic fulfilment in their work, but it also causes their output to skyrocket from feeling recognised and appreciated.

Ways to Practice Recognition

Top-Down

Traditional forms of recognition come from the top-down, whereby a manager directly offers words of praise, accolades, rewards or bonuses to their employee. This can take on the form of 1:1 feedback loops, yearly or quarterly bonuses, performance reviews, employee of the month or years of service awards and more. Whilst offering a valid type of recognition in their own right, these feedback initiatives are limited in many ways. Too infrequent and formal in nature, this type of appreciation is often too little too late, or can feel like a contrived nod to the contribution of an employee from an obliging senior figure. It lacks the delight of unexpected, in-the-moment praise and does little to affect a worker’s morale on a regular basis. Additionally, these one-off spikes don’t provide enough incentive to impact employees’ daily motivation levels significantly.

Peer-to-Peer

An interesting alternative to this is peer-to-peer recognition, which has proven to be a highly successful model for showing appreciation. In this system, in addition to managers, other colleagues at any level of the organisation are given the opportunity to recognise, praise and reward their co-workers in a public forum. Peer-to-peer recognition can take various forms such as verbal praise, shoutouts, ‘props’, mini-bonuses, micro-gifting and more.

Companies that have implemented peer-to-peer recognition have seen marked positive increases to key business metrics across the board, with 11.5% seeing an impact on engagement in the workplace and 35.7% reporting a positive impact on financial results.

SHRM/Globoforce Survey

It’s often difficult for managers to have granular insight into the day-to-day workflow and little wins of their multiple employees. On the contrary however, team members are there with each other on the front line, day in day out. This empowers employees to recognise and celebrate the little wins of their colleagues in real time.

Think about it, wouldn’t it be great to have a centralised platform to offer words of praise to Karen, who never misses a deadline and always lifts the mood when passing your desk? Or a place to say thanks to Steve from another department for putting his own work down to help you with an urgent fix? Or better yet, wouldn’t it feel amazing to send a little reward or bonus to designer Erica who always implements your edits with such attention to detail?

With more open and diverse workplaces than ever before and increased possibility for crossover between teams, peer-to-peer recognition can be a vital instrument in your toolkit for success. As a matter of fact, employees who receive regular small rewards, in the form of money, points, or thanks, are a staggering 8x more engaged than those who receive compensation and bonus increases once a year.

Inclusion

In growing diverse workplaces, it is vital that you are building a company culture revolved around trust. This means fostering trust between employees and leadership as well as trust between colleagues across the whole organisation. Functioning, high-performance teams are built around a strong belief and appreciation for the talents of each person in that team. But getting to that point can be a challenge.

One of the key ways that we can build this level of trust in our workplaces is through transparency. This can take on many forms, from sharing important financial figures, performance data, realtime sales figures, employee salaries, or setting up more open communication channels within your organisation.

Forbes reported that 25% of privately held companies say they share financial information with all of their employees. That’s up from just 7% only four years ago. So there really is something of a trend toward transparency. According to the Boston Globe, younger workers “who grew up sharing everything on social media increasingly demand it.”

By giving employees a window into the inner workings of the company, you are equipping your entire employee base, from entry-level sales staff to C-levels, with more agency, addressing their intrinsic need for purpose and meaning. Essentially, employees will have an added stake in the company and be motivated to help it succeed.

Ways to Practice Inclusion

  • You can unite your entire workforce by rallying them around a few key metrics or values that matter to business performance. They will develop a deeper sense of how their work directly supports your bottom line and feel like they are working towards a goal.
  • Increase visibility by making recognition more public. Ultimately, we can build trust with our employees by gradually starting to open up the conversations that were historically had behind closed doors. Implement a public forum for giving recognition so that employee achievements can be witnessed and celebrated by everyone in the organisation.
  • Use technology to your benefit. Technology is significantly helping break down generational, cultural and other barriers. By adopting a centralised digital platform for recognition, such as Unipos, you are providing pathways for employees to connect, build relationships, and work in a transparent, symbiotic way.
  • Be specific with your recognition and praise. This all comes back to changing the way we give praise in order to build a stronger workforce. Instead of saying, “Thanks for your great copywriting work James”, you can be more transparent by saying “James, your great copywriting work on project x has increased landing page conversions by y and helped our sales target by z”. Go that extra step further to recognise the true impact each employee is having.
  • Increase the frequency of how often you share key information with your employees and recognise their efforts. Provide real-time results, set up initiatives for in-the-moment praise, and give little rewards or mini-bonuses on a more regular basis. Adopt the philosophy of ‘less but more often’.

What’s Next?

It’s a lot, we know. And you may be asking yourself now, ‘how can I easily implement all of this into my workplace?’

You’re going to need to set up dedicated initiatives that promote inclusion and recognition. If it’s not already clear, not only will this approach improve the lives of your employees, but will also benefit your business too. In fact, “organisations with the most sophisticated recognition practices are 12 times more likely to have strong business outcomes”.

So what kind of initiatives are we talking about?

Above all, whatever practice you choose to move forward with should include elements we’ve outlined above: it should be easy to use, transparent, open access and offer opportunities to give praise, feedback and even small rewards or mini-bonuses. Here is a perfect opportunity to use technology as your ally by setting up a centralised system for recognition. Fortunately for you, there are plenty of tools out there to help you do this, but none as joyful as Unipos (okay yes, we’re a little biased but we’ve got the results to back it up).

We built Unipos as a one-stop system that inherently manages these two processes, practicing recognition and inclusion, in a real-time manner. No muss, no fuss. Unipos is completely based on the democratic feedback of peers at every level of the organisation, and requires next to no administration or maintenance of the system from you (we take care of all of that for you). The public timeline builds transparency as everyone has real-time access to witness the praise you are giving and receiving.

A positivity platform for recognising and celebrating employees and their daily wins, it incentivises others to show recognition. The software provides a system where employees can send each other a small monetary bonus (worth the same as a cup of coffee) along with a public message of positive feedback and appreciation. The business covers the costs of these monetary incentives, giving each employee a little nest egg each month (or quarterly) for showering others with praise and mini-bonuses.

SHRM/Globoforce survey results reported that

“When companies spend 1% or more of payroll on recognition, 85% see a positive impact on engagement … [and] 46% of senior managers view recognition programs as an investment rather than an expense”

SHRM/Globoforce Survey

We’ve found that by creating a centralised framework for recognition and inclusion, employees have the space to build relationships across every level of the organisation whilst enhancing their sense of purpose. Fuelled on positivity, this easy-to-use workplace tool is radically transforming the cultural landscape in the office for the good. Many of us underestimate the power of valuing positivity in the workplace — but when recognition, inclusion, words of appreciation, and random acts of kindness become the norm, then morale will lift across the board. Employees will be motivated to do their best work and to help others succeed. Too often, employee engagement initiatives fail because they seem contrived, forced or limited by tackling just one issue. Unipos offers you an integrated system to not only facilitate recognition, peer-to-peer appreciation, inclusivity, transparency, and relationships, but it also brings unmitigated positivity back to the workplace — and we could all use a little sprinkling of that every now and then couldn’t we?