Studies have consistently shown that when recognition is conducted strategically, it produces happier employees that generate better output, deliver improved customer service and remain in their roles for longer periods of time. Yet, recognition in the workplace is lacking, with data revealing that more than half of employees do not feel appreciated at work, while nearly a third have left a previous job due to a lack of recognition. In order to motivate employees and increase retention, businesses need to tap into the power of thanks and recognition and implement a social recognition programme that embraces the wisdom of crowds.

Consistency Is Key

While business practices have changed greatly in the last 40 years, the traditional performance review process has not. As a result, only a third of employees in today’s workforce believe traditional performance reviews provide accurate recognition for the work they have done. Usually taking place with a manager on an annual basis, the aim of most current review processes is to provide feedback on goals and targets that have been clearly defined in the employee’s job description.

However, times have changed and roles are becoming more fluid and in a constant state of evolution. As a result, annual performance reviews are not seen as effective as they once were – they are often biased, inaccurate and too sparse to truly reflect an honest evaluation.

Organisations need to therefore look at implementing a strategy that will continue to motivate and drive commitment, while also providing a true reflection of the individual employee’s performance. Through social recognition programmes, employees are consistently identified throughout the year for the good work they do, yielding a data set that provides employers with a much more accurate picture of their performance.

A performance review also often consists of feedback by one person, at one moment in time, which can fairly be termed a single point of failure. To create a fuller, more telling picture, the wisdom of crowds, also termed crowdsourcing, must be applied to the process.

Crowdsourced feedback and recognition provides a much deeper, better-rounded understanding of an employee than any single person would be capable of arriving at during a review once a year. Indeed, research shows that more than 75 percent of employees place greater value on peers’ opinions as opposed to managerial feedback alone. A bottom-up, peer-to-peer strategy essentially allows all employees – not just managers – to recognise others for good work constantly and immediately, which provides much more precise feedback that only serves to motivate and encourage.

Make It Global, Local & Mobile

Another factor organisations need to consider is accessibility. In order for a social recognition programme to be successful, it must be within reach for employees in all departments, irrespective of where the office is based. Indeed, too many organisations fail to understand the importance of a universal programme, leading to inconsistency when it comes to raising awareness of business objectives.

Creating a single, centrally-managed, global programme not only makes sure giving recognition is easy, intuitive and fast for people who want to nominate and congratulate their peers; it connects the entire workforce around common values and goals, no matter how many locations or languages it supports.

At the same time, organisations need to recognise that local is key when it comes to awarding individual employees. There are often stories of global merchandising backfiring – choices made in one country clashing with another’s local customs, awards in different countries being wildly erratic in value, or even gifts that have no value at all because they are locally irrelevant. Instead, awards need to be appropriate and proportionate, depending on where the employee is.

Employers also need to take into account the fact that workforces are more mobile than ever before. As such, it makes sense to ensure a recognition programme is portable and accessible from an employee’s desktop, laptop or mobile device. This essentially puts recognition into the palm of the employee’s hands. Furthermore, all activities, whether it’s nominating or receiving, are captured on one consistent platform, providing employers with useful information at their fingertips.

Strategically implemented, a recognition programme that takes into consideration today’s mobile world, and involves the use of crowdsourcing, is an ongoing catalyst for enhanced employee motivation and performance. When an employee can see they are adding value to their organisation and they are regularly communicating with their peers and managers, their productivity levels will grow.

Furthermore, a programme that regularly ensures everyone is actively working towards the same goals provides the workforce with structure and consistency, which ultimately strengthens corporate culture. The opportunity this creates for organisations – from individual performance, to business growth – is one with vast potential that can positively change the way a company does business.