March 5, 2024
March 1, 2024

How Employee Recognition Can Transform the Employee Journey

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The employee journey encompasses everything that an employee goes through and experiences at work—it is the sum of their time at the company, from the interview process to their last day.

Ensuring that you have a plan to engage, develop, and satisfy each employee throughout their journey is vital to retaining the best talent and keeping them happy and productive during their tenure.

Total rewards needs to be key to that plan, and while modern total rewards should include things like professional development, flexibility, and mental wellness support, for our purposes in this post, we’re going to focus on employee recognition—specifically how recognition influences each stage of the employee journey.

The 5 Stages of the Employee Journey

The employee journey is summed up in every interaction an employee has with the company. It starts when a potential employee looks the company up online, and it only ends when that employee leaves the company.

(Want tips for mapping the employee journey? Check out our post here!)

Here’s a quick breakdown of the five stages of the employee journey:

  1. Recruitment. This covers everything an employee goes through before being hired, including researching the company, applying, and interviewing.
  2. Onboarding. This includes everything from an employee’s first day to when they feel confident in their new roles.
  3. Engagement. As an all-encompassing stage, engagement spreads throughout the whole journey, and includes how the company supports, compensates, and interacts with the employee.
  4. Development. This is another broad stage, but it’s focused specifically on how the company helps employees grow, gain new skills, and take on new responsibilities.
  5. Separation. This covers the process of how an employee leaves, whether they were let go, they quit, or they retired.

Ensuring you have a strategy for each of these stages is the best way to gain a competitive advantage in 2024 and beyond. Employees expect more from their companies than ever before, and a robust employee journey can meet and exceed those expectations, which ensures lower turnover and higher engagement.

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The Impact of Employee Recognition

There aren’t many things you can invest in that will influence and improve every stage of the employee journey—but employee recognition is one of them.

Recognized employees feel more valued, supported, and appreciated, which has numerous benefits for them and the company. Here are some of the general benefits of employee recognition:

  • Employee turnover is 31% lower
  • Performance and productivity increase by 14%
  • Employee are 43% more engaged
  • Employees are 3X more loyal to their organization
  • Companies perform better

Yes, the impact of recognition is amazing. But we’re talking about the employee journey here. You want to map out each stage of the journey, and you want to know if recognition really is worth it for that task. Here is how employee recognition improves each stage of the employee journey.

Employee Recognition During Recruitment

Recruitment is all about attracting the best talent to apply to your open positions, right? What better way to attract than to build a culture that recognizes and rewards your current employees? That way, they’ll leave good reviews, post about the company on LinkedIn, and spread the word about how much they enjoy working at your organization.

Here are some other ways to use recognition to improve the recruitment stage:

  • Recognize and reward applicants. When someone comes in for an interview, give them a handwritten note expressing your appreciation for their interest. Showing them gratitude will leave a great impression.
  • Regularly recognize employees on social media. Social media shoutouts are a great way to both recognize existing employees and show potential talent that the company cares about its people.
  • Train interviewers to talk about the culture. Employees participating in interviews should talk openly about your culture, specifically how they feel valued and appreciated for their work.
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Employee Recognition During Onboarding

Onboarding plays a massive role in how long an employee stays at your company and how happy they are. Good onboarding can increase retention by 50% because it makes 69% of employees much more likely to stay at least three years.

Employee recognition is one of the best ways improve onboarding, and here’s how:

  • Recognize employees on their first day. Make an employee’s first day something special by recognizing and welcoming them. One of the best things you can do is send them a survey BEFORE they start that asks their favorite snacks, and then give them a welcome basket full of their favorites.
  • Provide budget for first-day parties. Help employees feel welcomed by their new team with a first-day meal and get together. Starting off on the right foot like this will hopefully put new hires at ease.
  • Offer stipends for home offices setups. If new employees ever work from home, providing them a stipend to improve their setup will show that the company wants them to be comfortable.
  • Train managers on how to recognize regularly. When managers recognize, their employees are 40% more engaged. Make sure your leaders know how to recognize the people they work with for big and small stuff.
  • Extend onboarding through the first year. Onboarding should not only last a day, or even a week. New employees don’t suddenly feel confident and accepted in just a few days. Recognize employees’ efforts on their first day, one-month, six-month, or one-year mark to show that the company will support and value employees no matter what.

Employee Recognition During Engagement

Only a third of employees are engaged at work nowadays, despite the fact that engaged employees are more productive, loyal, profitable, and motivated. The good thing is that employees are 4X more likely to be engaged when they feel recognized.

The engagement stage covers a lot, so here are just a few strategies to use recognition to enhance it:

  • Make sure employees are recognized at least a handful of times a year. Recognize employees for birthdays, service anniversaries, and holidays, at the very least. Train managers to recognize as frequently as they can to ensure each employee, no matter how visible their work, feels seen and appreciated.
  • Create recognition programs that celebrate employee milestones. Employees go through a lot during their tenure, such as weddings, having a child, buying a home, or graduating. Recognize employees’ professional AND personal achievements to show that they matter.
  • Create and encourage a peer-to-peer recognition program. While managers can’t recognize every employee all the time, peer recognition can fill the gaps. Friends recognizing friends can be a powerful way to keep everyone engaged.

Even though employees are 4X more likely to be engaged if they’re recognized, 82% of employees don’t feel recognized enough. These are just some strategies to ensure everyone feels valued throughout their tenure.

Employee Recognition During Development

Training and development are a vitally important part of employee job satisfaction according to over 70% of employees. Your people want to progress, learn new skills, and move upward in the company. Here are some ways that recognition makes training and development easier and more effective:

  • Create professional development incentives. By incentivizing and rewarding those who participate in the professional development programs you create, you’ll show that you truly value those employees who want to improve.
  • Reward high-performers with more opportunities. Recognize and reward those who excel with things like bonuses, raises, promotions, shoutouts, new responsibilities, and the like! This is important in making sure you retain your best talent.
  • Recognize employees who excel. Did you know that 92% of employees will repeat excellent work when they’re recognized for it? When employees excel, they deserve to be noticed.

Push employees to succeed and recognize those who do good work. This will keep employees engaged, productive, and improving.

Employee Recognition During Separation

Separation can’t be influenced much by recognition—however, exit interviews are a great way to learn what you’re doing well and what you can improve! Employees are often more candid when they’re leaving, so ask them if they felt recognized, and if they didn’t, ask how the company can improve.

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Recognition: the Key to Enjoying the (Employee) Journey

Employee rewards and recognition is the cornerstone of any good employee journey strategy. It helps celebrate employees and makes them feel like an important part of your company. It improves recruitment, retention, and engagement, which will give you an edge in the months to come.

If you read this and thought, how do we create incentives, how do we recognize effectively, or how do we offer the best rewards, Awardco can help. Let’s chat about what recognition can do for you.