An article in the latest issue of Ragan’s Grapevine introduces the idea of “recognition communication” or using employee recognition as an internal communication program to bring the company goals, vision and mission to employees’ hearts and create an “emotionally engaged work force.”
The article urges company communicators not to leave employee recognition completely to Human Resources, saying, “it could be your greatest success as a communicator” showing impact and value on the corporate spreadsheet.
Research results from the consulting firm, DDI, reportedly prove that such programs can raise productivity by as much as 65 percent. The Watson Wyatt Human Capital Index reportedly shows that “clear rewards can generate 16.5 percent to 21.5 percent growth in annual shareholder value, as well as 5.4 percent to 14.6 percent improvement in recruitment and retention.”
And it doesn’t cost much, the article points out. You only need to change your focus and redirect current spending.
Corporate communication from the top down in the form of intranet messages, videos, executive speeches and written communication, including glossy magazines, are not very effective, the article asserts, because research has shown that employees value feedback and acknowledgement primarily from their direct supervisor and next from their peers.
For example, reading about the company’s cost-cutting initiative would not be as motivating to an employee as witnessing his or her manager publicly recognizing a teammate for suggesting a new cost-cutting measure. The latter constitutes a direct, one-on-one, personal benefit from the cost cutting initiative. The goal is translated into a concrete activity that everyone understands. Furthermore, the manager’s message in the award ceremony is personal and emotionally charged, thereby, going straight to the heart.
The article cites the case of the investment management firm, T. Rowe Price, which implemented an employee recognition program by giving employees a way to send free e-cards and handwritten cards to each other, and giving managers a way to nominate and reward employees with tangible awards presented in team settings for living the core values of the organization. Employee satisfaction improved, leading to better service to clients and investors and, ultimately, higher client and investor loyalty scores.
To build a strategic recognition communication program, the article recommends partnering with Human Resources to do the following:
- Aligning rewards with specific behavior you want to be repeated for the success of corporate goals, mission and strategy, e.g., customer service, innovation, cost-cutting, on-time delivery, safety, new revenue, teamwork, etc.
- Training managers and other leaders in how to motivate and give recognition to their people
- Providing media resources in support of the employee recognition program, e.g., recognition tool-kits containing a training DVD, book and thank-you cards, or an intranet site offering recognition training for managers
- Getting top-level management support for the employee recognition program, e.g., keeping top-level executives informed of and in touch with recent award nominees
Such a program is a perfect example of how business communication can work in synergy with other department of the organization.