Shaping better diversity and inclusion through employee recognition

A study in May 2021 highlighted that companies that incorporate recognition with diversity and inclusion have 55% engaged employees versus 17% at companies where there is no integration.

Respondents in the study who worked for companies where recognition incorporates diversity and inclusion (D&I) also reported that they felt their company's D&I programmes were more effective at making them feel a sense of inclusion.

What does this tell us? Employee recognition has become a popular way of engaging our employees. Combining this strategy in broader HR programmes, such as D&I, is a trend to make the overall engagement strategy more effective.

During National Inclusion Week, we look at some of the ways employee recognition can help organisations shape their D&I strategy.

Reinforcing D&I values

Whilst leaders tend to use recognition for work-related contributions, it can also be used to appreciate those demonstrating behaviours that support D&I initiatives. Encourage managers and employees to recognise each other for showing inclusive and welcoming behaviours, taking an active role in D&I programmes, or providing unique ideas or perspectives.

You could take this idea one step further by creating recognition cards aligned directly with the company’s D&I values. This would enable senior leaders to evaluate how their people are genuinely relating to the business' values. Plus, it’s thought that only around 53% of employees know their company’s core values, so it’s an excellent opportunity to remind people.

Building a sense of belonging

Graphic showing happy team

Recognition can be a critical part of making employees feel like they belong in an organisation, mainly when teams are split across offices and homes.

Recognition from senior leaders can be great for making employees feel included and appreciated. Still, peer-to-peer recognition is just as essential to ensure credit is being given and received by a diverse range of people.

If HR and senior leaders remind employees to recognise people they wouldn’t usually seek to thank, it will help to foster a more welcoming culture.

Creating equal opportunities for teams

There are often groups of employees who are publicly recognised more often than others, purely down to the nature of their roles. For example, customer service is vital to many businesses, but there isn’t always a way for customers to recognise an individual.

A well-developed recognition programme, however, can overcome these challenges. Ideas for celebrating customer service contributions include sharing positive metrics, enabling peers to recognise each other for the day-to-day little wins and promoting positive feedback/reviews from customers online. You can also ask managers to remember to recognise the less visible employees who aren't on the frontline.

By ensuring you have the tools and programmes to enable recognition for all teams across the business, you’ll make employees feel equal and included.

Supporting D&I policies

Dream team vector graphic

Your organisation may have thought long and hard about its D&I policies, but are your employees aware of them and do they live and breathe them?

Recognition could highlight people who are demonstrating behaviours in line with the policies, promoting their benefits back to the business.

Ideas include recognising:

  • A diverse range of people across the business when they have been promoted, highlighting the business’ equal opportunities

  • A worker when they have completed some training

  • A worker for taking time off for parental leave in line with the company policy, showcasing to peers that it’s encouraged to benefit from this time off

  • Employees who have worked on updating or promoting the D&I policies back to the business, reinforcing their importance

  • Those involved in the inclusive hiring and onboarding process, encouraging others to follow their example.

Summary

There’s no doubt that having a well-designed recognition programme can support overall employee engagement, which can positively affect your staff turnover and productivity. Being able to influence your diversity and inclusion programmes is a bonus, and the examples explored above can help organisations widen their existing recognition initiatives to encompass D&I moving forward.

Call to action to download the recognition guide PDF