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Feature Story

June 2015

Employee Recognition Programs Continue Upward Trend to Achieve Organizational Goals

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Recognition programs can be the key to motivating employees and driving organizational results, according to a survey, "Trends in Employee Recognition," by WorldatWork and underwritten by ITA Group. WorldatWork, a nonprofit human resources association and leading compensation authority, conducted the February 2015 survey of its membership to measure specific types of recognition programs and the impact on the workforce.

Employee recognition programs remain an important component in the total rewards toolkit, with 89 percent of organizations having programs in place, and with 67 percent of organizations offering between three and six different programs, with 4.6 as the average number. The average number of programs appears to be trending upward to the 2011 level after dipping to 3.9 in 2013.

"In our talent-driven economy, we know organizations that demonstrate employee value and embed a culture of recognition are boosting morale and motivating workers to perform at top level," said Rose Stanley, WorldatWork senior practice leader. "Today, as more companies are beginning to treat employees like customers, recognition plays a role in creating an atmosphere of higher engagement, motivation and overall job satisfaction."

According to the 2015 report, the top five recognition programs have remained the same since 2013: length of service (87 percent); above-and-beyond performance (76 percent); programs to motivate specific behaviors (51 percent); peer-to-peer recognition (48 percent); and retirement (34 percent). Programs to motivate specific behavior continue to rise, jumping to the third-most-prevalent recognition program with an increase of 10 percentage points.

Organizations using multiple result-driven recognition programs are experiencing the greatest success. Some 89 percent of organizations using four result-driven programs are achieving their recognition goals, compared with only 66 percent of those using only one result-driven program. They also perceive a much more positive impact on employee engagement, motivation and retention.

"These findings truly validate our evolution from traditional employee recognition to employee well-being. Our recommendations to clients always include multiple, high-ROI, results-driven recognition programs—this provides the frequent recognition employees want and the engagement that leadership needs," said Rob Danna, vice president at ITA Group.

Additional findings from the 2015 survey include:

  • Programs that improve biometric indices through wellness initiatives debuted as sixth on the list of top programs offered, with 32 percent of organizations offering wellness programs.
  • A majority of respondents believe their workforces consider recognition programs to have a positive or extremely positive effect on employee engagement (68 percent), motivation (62 percent) and satisfaction (70 percent), but are less confident on the perceived impact on retention (38 percent).
  • The percentage of organizations that are featuring recognition in attraction efforts, or are sometimes but not always featuring these programs, has increased from 2013. Slightly more than half of organizations do not feature or market recognition (53 percent) as a benefit in attracting new employees.

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