Why generic communication tools don’t work for recognition
Whether it’s Teams, an intranet, Yammer or Slack, there’s no doubt that your organisation has one of these very popular communication tools already in place.
The business probably implemented the tool at the start of the pandemic, when everyone realised it took too long to send an email and communication needed to be more agile.
Or, perhaps you’re one of those forward-thinking companies who adopted a communication tool before they were even trendy (congratulations if that’s you).
Whilst these tools are great for day-to-day communication with your colleagues, organising social events and keeping in the know with the teams close to you, they’re not great when it comes to recognition.
The common approach
Too often, we speak to companies who are trying to embed a recognition culture in a business through their communication tool. Usually, this involves a dedicated thread named “Kudos”, “Give Thanks” or “Recognition” (if the creativity ran dry that day…)
The idea is that employees can head to this area of the tool to share their gratitude for a colleague.
Some more imaginative organisations might use GIFs or images to attach to said recognition, in an attempt to bring the post to life.
These examples are some of the better ones. The not-so-impressive approaches to recognition usually involve an intranet, a complex people directory, endless searching for a colleague’s name and a meaningless personal notification to tell you somebody thought you did a good job yesterday.
Why this doesn’t work
These approaches are sufficient if you want to simply give people a place to express their appreciation towards their hardworking colleagues.
But if you want to create a genuine culture of abundant and free-flowing recognition where colleagues are inspired to emulate behaviour, all of which has a positive impact on the business’ performance, then you’ll need to up your ante.
Recognition through these communication tools doesn’t work for several reasons.
- It’s not visible enough
The most simple reason is most people don’t see recognition in communication tools. Why? Because it’s the 30th ping they’ve had from Teams today and they haven’t had the time or inclination to go and see what it’s about.
Why does this matter? Because the person who has been recognised deserves to be celebrated by all their peers, not just the person who recognised them. Plus, if you minimise the visibility of recognition, you can’t expect your employees to understand what behaviours are encouraged by the business and therefore there’s a small chance that you’ll be able to embed your corporate values through recognition.
Also, most of the communication tools on the market are only accessible by employees with corporate email addresses, so chances are your frontline workers have no capability of getting involved.
- You can’t differentiate between types of recognition
Another core issue is the inability to distinguish between different levels of recognition. You could encourage employees to use different hashtags or use different imagery, but it won’t necessarily stand out.
It’s difficult, for example, to differentiate between everyday ‘thank-yous’ and special moments, such as nomination campaigns for incredible contributions to the business. You don’t want to discourage employees to post regularly for simple recognitions, but you also don’t want the unique stories to be lost in the noise – it’s a difficult balance.
- You can’t add reward
Most organisations will have a dedicated budget for employee reward, but there’s little opportunity to attach reward to a recognition when you’re using a communication tool. Again, this means managers have few resources to distinguish between everyday recognitions and special recognitions.
If this sounds like your organisation, then it probably means you have additional manual processes involved to reward employees – such as ordering gift vouchers or organising payments through payroll.
- It undervalues recognition
Time and time again, engagement surveys come back with employees stating they feel undervalued or underappreciated by their employer, managers and/or colleagues.
If that’s true of your organisation, do you think having a dedicated thread is enough?
Recognition tends to come bottom rank in employer’s priorities but experience with our customers proves that it can bring true value to a business – such as savings in staff turnover. It’s therefore so important that recognition is given precedent, which can only really be achieved with a dedicated tool.
- It’s too manual
Finally, a fairly obvious point around the manual nature of recognition in communication tools. Whilst peer-to-peer recognitions are always going to be manual in some way, some companies will also post their service milestone recognitions in these threads.
Not only does this create endless reams of content that will muddy the message of recognition even further, but it will also take somebody a considerable amount of time to monitor, track and post employee milestones.
Furthermore, you’ll likely have minimal (if any) reporting tools to analyse how your employees are engaging with recognition. How will you know which corporate values they are resonating with the most? How can you identify the managers who engage in recognition versus those who never bother at all? How will you see whether most recognition tends to be top-down or whether it reaches across borders?
Without this data, it becomes challenging to support a thriving recognition culture, as you’ll never be able to understand its weak points or areas for improvement. Plus, linking recognition back to any business improvements will be impossible.
Next time you head over to the ‘recognition wall’ in your communication tool, have a think about whether it’s truly meeting the appetite of your people.
If you want recognition to work harder, a dedicated recognition and reward platform accessible by everyone in your business can help you create happier, more motivated and more connected people who will want to stay with you longer.