March 7, 2024
March 1, 2024

How Employee Recognition Shapes the Employee Journey

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Each employee goes through a journey at their place of work, and this journey encompasses everything from their first day to the day they quit/retire. Everyone is in different places on their own journeys, so supporting each of your employees in their unique circumstances might feel overwhelming. 

However, employee recognition can be the axle upon which all other aspects of the employee journey rotate. Rewards and recognition touch upon each stage of the employee journey and help every employee feel valued and supported, regardless of where they’re at.

And this blog will tell you how to make that happen.

Mapping the Employee Journey

Let’s review the stages of the employee journey to set the stage. The five stages of the journey are:

  1. Recruitment. The first stage of the journey encompasses everything until an employee’s first day, such as applying, interviewing, and even interactions they have with your company online.
  2. Onboarding. Onboarding is the process of training new employees and helping them gain confidence in their new roles. This typically goes from their first day until their first few months pass.
  3. Engagement. The engagement stage is broad, but the key points are keeping employees motivated and satisfied in work. This includes benefits, perks, and total rewards to keep employees invested.
  4. Development. Development often overlaps with engagement, but this stage is specifically focused on helping employees learn new skills and grow in their responsibilities.
  5. Separation. Every employee eventually leaves your company for one reason or another, and this stage encompasses that process.

Together, these five stages make up the employee journey. Instead of breaking each stage down into various strategies for each one (we already did that for this post), we’re going to focus on how employee recognition can enhance your efforts and your employees’ experiences throughout each stage.

Employee Recognition and the Employee Journey

Employee rewards and recognition are anything that you as the company provide the employee to help them feel valued, seen, and supported. Recognition can include things such as:

  • Digital shoutouts
  • Public kudos
  • Handwritten notes
  • Sincere compliments in public or private
  • Birthday or holiday gifts
  • Free meals
  • Employee wellness support
  • Flexibility options
  • Support through life’s milestones or challenges
  • Opportunities for growth
  • Lifestyle Spending Accounts

Recognition isn’t just about the physical things you give employees—it’s about the feelings employees have while at work. If they feel like their managers and the company as a whole cares about them, supports their needs, and values their work, employees will be more motivated, engaged, loyal, and happy.

How to Use Recognition During Recruitment

No matter why an employee is looking for a job, the process can be daunting. People can only do so much research—they’re really taking a leap of faith when they research your company and apply to a position there.

Employee recognition can make this easier for them, though. It can build their confidence and get them excited to join your team. Here’s how:

  • Your company can create social media posts focused on recognizing your existing employees. By celebrating your people in such an impactful, visible way, potential employees will see that you care about them.
  • On a related note, if employees feel valued by recognition and rewards, they’re bound to talk about it through social posts, Glassdoor reviews, etc. 
  • Interviewers can also explain how recognition plays a part in the company’s effort to care for their employees. By talking about the recognition programs you run, potential talent will be more excited about joining your team.
  • Recognize applicants when they come for an interview with a heartfelt card. These short, succinct, and ideally hand-written cards to give to interviewees after the interview can leave a fantastic impression, even if they aren’t hired.

People will be considering a lot of things and weighing a lot of factors when deciding which jobs to apply for. If your company prioritizes employee recognition and rewards, you can attract the top talent easier.

How to Use Recognition During Onboarding

Onboarding is an absolutely crucial step in each employee’s journey. Good onboarding can actually increase retention by 50%—however, only 12% of employees agree that their onboarding was good.

The right employee recognition can start employees off on the right foot and help them stay engaged longer. Here are some ideas to use recognition effectively:

  • Recognize employees on their first day with a small gift bag or some company swag (bonus points if you let employees choose the swag they want!).
  • Send new hires a survey before their first day to learn their favorite snacks, food, colors, etc. Then have gifts that fit their responses waiting for them on their desks.
  • Help remote and hybrid employees get started with a stipend to upgrade their home office setup.
  • Give each team a budget for meals or activities to help new employees get to know their colleagues.

These are great for the first day or week, but onboarding should last longer than that. Here are some ways that recognition can help extend the feeling of support for new employees:

  • Celebrate new employees on their one-month mark, their six-month mark, and their one-year mark.
  • Encourage managers to recognize and compliment their new employees as they learn their new roles and contribute in meaningful ways.
  • Provide a small gift or bonus to employees after their first year as a way to say “thank you.”

These are great ways to recognize the efforts of new employees and show that the company will support them past the “new hire” phase.

How to Use Recognition During Engagement

There are dozens of ways that recognition can be used to keep employees engaged and happy throughout their time at your company (see the list of recognition strategies above). And remember, employees are 4X more engaged when they feel recognized for their work.

Here are some of the most effective for boosting engagement for all of your employees:

  • Recognize the efforts of each employee. Train managers to recognize and compliment all of their people, even those whose work may not be as visible.
  • Make rewards and recognition more frequent than a simple end-of-year bonus. 82% of employees don’t feel recognized enough, and that’s because a couple shout outs a year aren’t enough.
  • Celebrate employee milestones, such as graduation, having a baby, getting married, or buying a home. This shows that the company cares about employees as people, not just as money-making machines.
  • Allow peer-to-peer recognition to build friendships and a culture of support. Managers may not work closely with all of their employees, but peers often do—consequently, peer recognition can be extremely powerful.
  • Offer rewards, birthday gifts, and holiday presents that employees actually want—after all, nothing lowers recognition like receiving some recognition that feels impersonal or disingenuous.

These are just some of the ways you can build a culture of recognition that spreads throughout employees’ tenure. This far-reaching support will build engagement and cut down on turnover. (Plus, it will feed into your recruitment efforts as well, bringing in even more top talent!)

How to Use Recognition During Development

Employees want to learn, grow, and take on new responsibilities at work. In fact, 71% of them say that training and development are important to their job satisfaction. So how can recognition make this easier?

  • Create incentives to spread awareness and excitement of development opportunities. By rewarding participants with money, points on the platform, or shout outs, you’ll show that you truly value employees who want to grow.
  • Recognize employees who put in the most effort with special awards. Programs like an employee of the month or a top-performer award will show that you notice and value those who go above and beyond.
  • Reward high performers with more responsibilities. This allows those who excel to have more opportunities to highly perform.

A culture of recognition will create a cycle of encouraging high performance, rewarding effort, and driving more high performance. Everyone wins!

How to Use Recognition During Separation

Every employee contributes to the company, whether they stay for six months or 16 years. As you recognize and reward the work that your people put in each day, the separation stage will be better for everyone, regardless of when they leave.

Exit interviews are another great way to build your recognition culture. Ask departing employees what they wish the company did better, then use that feedback to improve your reward and recognition offerings.

Employee Recognition: Your Map to the Employee Journey

Whether it’s an employee's first day, last day, or just a regular day somewhere in between, everyone will appreciate feeling recognized, appreciated, and supported. By using rewards and recognition throughout each stage of the employee journey, you’ll create a strong foundation that employees can rely on, building their engagement and increasing their retention.