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Making Social Recognition S.M.A.R.T in 2013

Social RecognitionMy friends at TemboSocial sent me their most recent infographic on social recognition and it prompted me to take a few minutes to dive a little deeper into their recent whitepaper on why social recognition matters. Below are some highlights from that whitepaper as well as some additional thoughts of my own.

“Fifty-four percent of organizations involuntarily lost high-performing employees during the first half of 2010”, reports T&D Magazine.1 According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the number one reason people leave their jobs is lack of appreciation.2 These figures speak to the challenge of talent retention and employee engagement, illustrating that a troubling percentage of employees who feel undervalued move on to what they hope will be greener pastures.

But what about the productivity of those employees who remain?

Discretionary effort is directly linked to feeling valued. If you believe that your efforts matter, then you will be less likely to leave and more likely to invest greater effort into your job each day.

Enabling a Culture of Personal Legacy

When companies embrace social media within their organization, they quickly realize that the currency that has the greatest value to knowledge workers is the desire for recognition. What employee doesn’t want to leave their mark on the work they’ve done, the successes they’ve achieved? Social recognition allows an employee to build a personal legacy within the organization, bringing to light the contributions and milestones of the employee. Recognition becomes a cultural asset, infusing the social intranet with stories of success and achievement.

Low Cost, High Return

Social recognition programs provide short and long-term benefits. They deliver a win-win situation. Not only are they far less expensive than traditional monetary rewards programs, they are also proven to be more effective in engaging and motivating knowledge workers than traditional monetary incentives.

Social Recognition and Why It MattersThe ripple effect of personal legacy means that the stories collected and shared through the right social recognition program will:

  • Provide Public Validation  – Recognition by your peers makes you feel valued, and does so in a significant way. This is because only your peers truly understand the skill, time and effort of the finished project. Although others may appreciate the result your peers recognize the process, and this recognition is especially validating.
  • Increase Talent Retention and Productivity – If you believe that your efforts matter, then you’ll be less likely to leave and more likely to make greater contributions. Non-monetary social recognition builds employee engagement, which is proven to increase retention and discretionary effort.3
  • Reinforce Corporate Culture –  Peer-to-peer recognition programs build institutional memory, serving as a repository of stories that would otherwise go untold. The act of publicly celebrating these stories helps to shape the culture of the company.
  • Improve Talent Spotting – When your peers recognize your contributions your successes are seen by the entire company. The sender also benefits by visibly demonstrating managerial skills.
  • Foster Collaboration – Allowing praise and recognition to be shared out in the open creates a rich gallery of stories that can be searched and browsed by anyone.
  • Inspire and Energize Employees – It doesn’t take much to say “thank you” for a job well done. Yet the impact of those two words can be astounding, changing the way employees feel about themselves and their work.
  • Streamline Processes – Ongoing peer-to-peer recognition removes the bottleneck often experienced when already busy managers are the required starting point for recognition.
  • Build Community – The achievement system brings everyone together to work towards a mutual goal that drives employee engagement to meet strategic goals.

Making Social Recognition S.M.A.R.T.

To make recognition part of your company culture it makes sense to look at the ubiquity of social media and its success, but it’s important to choose a platform that is SMART:4

  • Sincere. Above all else, a good reward should reflect a genuine expression of appreciation. Token acknowledgements leave something to be desired.
  • Meaningful. To endure a motivating influence, rewards should be aligned with the values, goals, and priorities that matter the most.
  • Adaptable. The diverse workplace demands alternatives. Consider creative options to keep your program fresh. No single reward format works for everyone all the time. [Recognition should be adapted and valuable to the receiver.]
  • Relevant. Some personal dimension is essential to a good reward. No matter how formal or informal, expensive or affordable, the relevance of any recognition will be improved with a personal touch — it’s a little thing that makes a big difference. [Recognition should be provided by someone of significance to the receiver.]
  • Timely. It is important that rewards respond to the behavior they are intending to reinforce. Don’t let too much time pass or the reward may be devalued and credibility eroded.

To better visualize the points presented here, check out TemboSocial’s infographic which illustrates why social recognition programs matter and the power of peer-to-peer recognition… and learn how the right social recognition program increases employee motivation and retention.

1 Pace, A: (2010, September). As future brightens for job seekers, disturbing trends emerge for trainers [Electronic version]. T&D Magazine, Retrieved March 25, 2011, from
2 Nelson, N: (2007, April). Unleashing the ‘secret’ at work [Electronic version]. Canadian HR Reporter, The National Journal of Human Resource Management, Retrieved March 25, 2011, from
3 Wagner, R., and Harter, J.K. (2006). 12: The Elements of Great Managing. New York: Gallup Press

4 “What Makes a Good Reward?” by Jim Brintnall, Debbie Gustafson, Bob Nelson, Recognition News, Vol. 2, Issue 2.

35 thoughts on “Making Social Recognition S.M.A.R.T in 2013”

  1. Together with every little thing that appears to be developing within this subject matter, many of your points of view happen to be rather radical. However, I appologize, but I do not give credence to your whole theory, all be it refreshing none the less. It would seem to me that your remarks are not completely justified and in actuality you are generally your self not really thoroughly convinced of your point. In any case I did take pleasure in reading it.

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