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Why Employee Recognition Programs Fail?

Why Employee Recognition Programs Fail

Why Recognition Programs Fail

One of the most common reasons recognition programs fail is because they have formal policies and procedures that create one employee being deemed the winner (Employee of the Quarter, etc.) and many losers.

In such formal programs, both positive and negative recognition of performance occur at the same time. They reward one employee for being first, best, or most improved. In safety recognition programs like that, the one lucky winner receives positive recognition (usually a certificate and framed photo on the wall and a parking space), yet at the same time, everyone else receives, unintentionally, no recognition at all. They walk away from the recognition ceremony with all sorts of negative thoughts and feelings because they perceive themselves as losers.

Everyone may be equally valuable to the company and performed at or above expectations, but since the “policy” said there can be only one winner, positive recognition is withheld from the majority of employees. Sadly, the result is one winner and many losers.

We’ve all probably experienced this kind of recognition program, so you know what we’re talking about.

Proactive Recognition Programs That Work

The best strategy is a recognition program that is criterion-based and recognizes everyone who meets the criteria for recognition. The goal is to have many winners who all meet or exceed management expectations. There are many safety recognition programs which offer incentives: some incentives work, and some don’t. Here’s a short list of proven successful safety recognition programs with incentives that, if administered correctly, can work for the company:

  • Safety Bucks: Supervisors carry safety bucks, and when they are impressed when they see someone doing something right, they reward them. The employee can take the safety buck to the company cafeteria for lunch, or they can use it at a local participating store to purchase items.
  • Bonus Programs: When an employee identifies a hazard in the workplace that could cause serious physical harm or a fatality, they are rewarded with a bonus check. In some cases, the bonus check is a fixed amount. In other programs the bonus check is a small percentage of the potential direct cost for the accident that might have occurred.
  • Safety Heroes: After an extended period of time, employees are rewarded with a certificate or bonus check for complying with company safety rules.

Reporting hazards, incidents and injuries: Wait a minute: do I mean that employees should be recognized for reporting injuries? That’s right. If employees report injuries immediately, they not only minimize the physical/psychological impact of the injury on themselves, they reduce the direct/indirect accident costs to the company. Both the individual and the company win if the employee reports injuries immediately.

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