January 9, 2023
February 11, 2021

Value-Driven Recognition: The Engine That Powers Positive Culture

Employee Recognition for a Modern Workforce
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Employee recognition has been a thing for a while now. You may have heard things like “Employee recognition improves engagement by 2X” or “Engaged employees are 17% more productive,” or any number of statistics that show how recognition is vital to your organization’s success.

We’re not here to debate the efficacy of recognition—it’s clear it’s important. But how will you unite your company values with your recognition programs and help propel your organization forward in the direction you want to go? What is the benefit of value-driven recognition, and how does it work?

Start Your Engines!

The starting line of every effective value-driven recognition program is simple and may seem trite at first. In order for your employees to demonstrate values through their work, they need to know those values. It should go without saying that in order for employees to know what the values are, organizations should have values that are purposeful and thoughtful, and then they need to communicate those values as often as possible. Here are a few things to keep in mind when building out values:

  • Define them: Be aspirational, realistic, and specific. 
  • Communicate them: If they’re just words on a wall, your values won’t get you very far. 
  • Exemplify them: If one of your values is “Achieve A Work-Life Balance” but your leaders never take time off, you might be sending a completely different message.

Pedal to the Metal!

Once you have your values nailed down, communicated—and let’s be honest, probably on a wall somewhere—it’s time to drive those values home with specific employee recognition programs that can help your employees demonstrate those values and show their stuff. Why are specific programs needed? Well, think of it this way: if an Olympic athlete knew the benchmark they had to hit to get the gold, but didn’t have an event to compete in, that would be a bummer, right? Having more than one catch-all recognition program is crucial to encouraging your values with your employees.

Highway to Success 

Now that you’ve defined your values and your organization has begun to demonstrate them in their daily work, it’s time to take the next step in your journey with the value-driven recognition cycle: recognizing individuals. 

No individual is the same (that’s why we call them individuals) and likewise there’s no right way to recognize. Reaching out and recognizing your people can involve seven different methods, each of which will be useful for different people and different situations. 

It’s also vital to remember that how you recognize is just as crucial as who you recognize. Just like a car clipping down the highway requires a symphony of parts working together to serve the whole, it’s important that you consider both “how” and “who” in your recognition efforts.

Work in the Fast Lane 

So you’ve defined your values, communicated them effectively, set up programs to recognize those values as they’re demonstrated, and done your homework to know the best ways to recognize your employees. Now what?

An employee that demonstrates values in their work should be appropriately recognized and rewarded. In fact, 40% of Americans would put more effort into their work if they felt adequately recognized. In light of that, can you afford NOT to recognize your employees? However and whenever you recognize, it’s important to remember that feeling valued comes from receiving actual value. Think of it this way: does the communicated value you give either through recognition and/or rewards match the value the employee gave?

When value is demonstrated, communicated value should be felt. And there’s no better way for an employee to feel valued than through rewarding recognition—and the opportunity to choose their own reward

The Engine of Engagement

Value-driven recognition is the engine of engagement for your organization. As you define your values, communicate them to your workforce, give opportunities for those values to be demonstrated by employees, recognize your employees for embodying those values, and then reward your workforce in the right ways, you’ll see values become behavior—and behavior become the culture of your company. 


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