Building an experience around employee expectations

Reward and recognition: your complete guide. From long service awards, to prizes for employees, to online employee recognition systems and tools – there are many ways to show your appreciation and deliver a winning reward and recognition strategy.

Reward and recognition at work comes in all shapes and sizes. Some employers opt for long service awards, some dish out prizes for employees, and some organisations have premium online employee recognition systems or tools. There are many ways to show your appreciation to someone at work; none are right or wrong.

“Due recognition is not just a courtesy we owe people. It is a vital human need.”

But, what is certain is that whether it’s peer-to-peer or manager-driven, personal email or Total Reward Statement, globally-enabled or simply acknowledging your employee of the month, recognition is a cultural – and a wellbeing – necessity. Not to mention, it can have a huge impact on your employee engagement and even employer brand! In order to gain excellent Glassdoor reviews and nurture a culture of trust, employers need to show their people that their work is valued and appreciated. After all, it is in our behaviour to want to feel appreciated.

Ocado: the results

Using Onehub | Recognition, Ocado Group launched a global recognition programme that sought to celebrate all the individual and team achievements of Ocado colleagues around the world.

The recognition dilemma: finding something for everyone

86% of HR professionals say that values-based recognition programmes make their employees happier. But why is social recognition so important to our development? And what kind of recognition gets the most positive response from us? The answer lies in psychology. We all have some very basic psychological needs – to belong, to have a social network, and to have the approval of our peers. We’re seeing these needs manifest more openly in the workplace. Perhaps we need to take a step back from complex recognition strategies, and see what happens to our people strategy as a result.

Back to basics: social recognition as a vital human need

From as young as four, children are teaching us why it’s so important to acknowledge achievement. In The Secret Life of Four-Year-Olds, a class full of toddlers meet at pre-school for the first time, and through a series of cameras and sensors, the audience sees the children’s behaviours unfold and develop.

A key insight from the show is how children respond to receiving praise, and how easy it is to see these effects continue into adulthood. Professor Paul Howard-Jones – a contributor on the programme – said, “Research shows how giving praise in different ways can influence children’s belief in their ability as something which is innate or something they can actually develop themselves.” In other words, those who receive specific praise about working hard at something are likely to be more resilient after a failure, and will then go on to figure out how to overcome the challenge. In contrast, those who are mostly praised in general terms, like “you’re brilliant”, are more likely to think of their capabilities as intrinsic and unmoving, and therefore there’s nothing to be done when they fail. It’s not a huge leap to see how, years later, this is reflected in the workplace.

“There’s not much about adult personality that isn’t already in the mix at 4-years-old”, Howard-Jones goes on to say. Seeing these four-year-olds interact with raw authenticity shows employers that we perhaps need to take a step back from complex recognition strategies, and deliver our thanks (or feedback) quickly, honestly, and specifically.

The power of 'thank you'

Benefex have conducted in-depth research into how this need for recognition is carried into our working lives, and how best to satisfy it. Let’s start by taking a look at the key stats. And if you want to take a look at the research in detail, our report, The power of thank you, explores the benefits of recognition beyond box-ticking; showing gratitude every day is a cultural necessity. It’s filled with pointers to get ahead on your recognition strategy, and shows the importance of recognition to help you build your business case.



Employee recognition as a wellbeing enhancement

Increased motivation. Improved collaboration. Better sleep at night.

“Many psychologists believe that gratitude is the most essential and powerful constituent of wellbeing.” Psychology Today

Gratitude and appreciation is a hot topic which has gathered much attention over the past few years. There have been numerous studies on the value it brings – from people who are asked to write down the things they appreciate, to a wide-scale study of people who are naturally more thankful. The conclusions all point in the same direction – practising being thankful is good for you.


So…where do you begin with recognising your people effectively?

In today’s hectic, fast-paced workplace, ‘thank yous’ are few and far between. Nobody’s to blame; when we’re busy and stressed, peer-to-peer recognition isn’t necessarily at the top of our list, especially when there isn’t an easy outlet for it. But offering workplace thanks is not only beneficial to us as individuals, it can have a widespread positive affect on our entire organisation’s culture. You just need a recognition platform which makes it effortless.

Stop wasting money on recognition that doesn’t work!

Traditional reward programmes are, more often than not, costly, ineffective, and not great value for money. Tenure-based recognition schemes; a £20 voucher at Christmas; a formal handshake from a C-suite rep you’ve never even seen before – are these the things that motivate us to work hard? When we get up on a Monday morning in February, are we thinking, Just 10 months until I (maybe) get my bonus, or, What can I do today to make sure I get my five-years’ service medal in four years’ time? Probably not. Most of us will wake up thinking about the day ahead. And it’s that habit of daily – even hourly – focus with which our recognition behaviour needs to align in order to have real meaning. We’re living in a world which demands instant gratification, so let’s give that to our employees.

What motivates our employees?

Fair salary and competitive rewards and benefits are incredibly important, and nobody is here to suggest otherwise. They are, however, a hygiene factor. Hopefully, no employer is of the opinion that you don’t have to pay your people well or deliver great benefits. Employers are, however, making the mistake that this is all you need to give your employees in order to deliver an exceptional working experience, and prove yourself an employer of choice. And that, therefore, ‘throwing more money at’ your people will improve engagement, which is absolutely not the case.

At Benefex, our research has identified that what motivates us – 83% of us anyway – is the need to be appreciated. “A ‘thank you’ can deliver a feeling of self-worth and more. It can double the chance of us helping out a colleague again. It can reduce depression and improve other areas of mental and physical health. It can bring benefits to all who witness it.”

In other words, we need to make sure our recognition is meaningful.

The proof: social psychology and recognition

As employees, we expect to be paid and rewarded fairly for doing our job. But the times when we go above and beyond? That’s when employers have a real opportunity to shine and deliver a great experience in return, just by saying ‘thank you’. So, we’ve identified a good starting point for employers: build experiences based on employee behaviour rather than expect employees to behave differently inside and outside of work. This helps us to instil a feeling of psychological safety at work. So, what are these behaviours? We need look no further than the popularity of Netflix, Spotify, Deliveroo and Airbnb to see that experience, access and convenience are valued higher than ownership; a trend which is manifesting itself in our work lives. 

Globally, £62bn is spent (we could even say wasted) every year on recognition programmes which go against this trend. 87% of them centre around length-of-service. In our current, social media-rich society, we crave acknowledgement of a job well done from Day One, not Year Five. And we crave it as it happens, not during the next quarterly window when our performance or engagement levels may have changed.

Social media = easy access recognition

The answer is simple; utilise social media. Whatever our personal opinions of social media are, it’s popular, powerful, and not going anywhere. Why? Because it’s people-driven. – Facebook have 1.37 billion daily active users – Instagram has 500 million – Twitter has 150 million – 80% of all social media activity is consumed via mobile If we speak to anyone of working age, there’s a strong chance they’ll have at least one social media account. Peer-to-peer interaction is central to our social lives, and is largely taking part online. The above statistics prove we all want to interact, and we want to engage with each other, it’s just the means which have changed.

Combining reward and recognition with social media. 

Social media is instant, powerful, it doesn’t take up any space and – for the most part – it’s inexpensive and easy to use. Over-elaborate recognition programmes which are instigated from the “top down” create barriers to acknowledging good work as it happens. So, where’s the sweet spot and what can you do to get it? We looked to see what sorts of products and services are out there, but none quite hit the mark. So, we built one. OneHub | Recognition is a social platform where colleagues can interact with each other, just like they would on Facebook. It empowers employees, giving them the ability to deliver peer-to-peer recognition as and when it happens without going through any onerous processes.


What do the experts have to say?

Our product experts and research team have delved further into the psychology behind these two little words, and we’ve revolutionised the way we appreciate each other at work. Get a sneak peek into the evolution of social recognition.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, we’ve found that OneHub | Recognition has been the ideal tool to support employee wellbeing and motivation during this difficult remote-working period.

Listen to the discussion.

OneHub | Recognition is here to help

OneHub | Recognition lives in your pocket. When someone has taken the time to help out, your people can say ‘thank you’ within seconds. It’s a handy social platform, which you can use anytime, anywhere, on any device. It’s the key to a collaborative, motivated, positive culture, based on genuine appreciation between colleagues.

Benefex’s handy, easy-to-use system encourages company-wide interactions and inter-departmental teamwork. It’s suitable for global workforces and SMEs alike; whether you’re wanting to thank one person or a thousand people, you can do so in just a couple of taps on your phone.

iPSL – Hi5

iPSL used OneHub | Recognition to help keep their people connected and reassured during the Covid-19 pandemic, and it’s worked its way into their employees’ everyday habits!

5 ways OneHub | Recognition will improve your culture. Your questions answered:

How do you instil a consistent culture across multiple regions or countries?

One thing that makes an appearance pretty much everywhere is social media. At the end of Q2, 2018, Facebook had 2.23 billion (1.74 billion on mobile) monthly active users. LinkedIn has 562 million users across 200 countries.

How can I improve my global employees’ relationships?

The progression of tech has opened international barriers, socially and at work, which has given companies advantages they never thought possible. An international workforce does come with a unique set of cultural challenges, however – many of which can be alleviated through the Recognition app. In being unified by a single social platform, remote and international workers – who could otherwise feel isolated – have a continual touchpoint with your organisation and with their peers.

How can I drive productivity?

Research has shown that employees who receive strong recognition generate nearly twice as many innovative ideas as those who don’t.[1] Those who receive frequent recognition are also significantly more likely to find more efficient ways of working, and to be proactive in making improvements to their organisation and their place within it.

How can I improve employee engagement?

Workplace thanks goes hand-in-hand with employee engagement. It positively affects drive and determination, company connections, workplace relationships, and personal standing, which improves employee advocacy and motivation.

How can I save money through recognition?

Recognition isn’t a substitute for a reasonable salary and good employee benefits! So, assuming salary and benefits meet employee expectations, employees are looking for recognition as their main motivator. In fact, the main reason for employees leaving their job is a lack of appreciation. To avoid this cost, regular, authentic recognition needs to become habitual in your workplace. What employers often make the mistake of doing is “throwing money” at an outdated recognition scheme in the hope that a carriage clock will motivate people.

[1] The Effect of Performance Recognition on Employee Engagement, O.C. Tanner, 2013

If you’re still not sure about re-evaluating your recognition strategy…

…think about how our attitude towards money has changed. We no longer want cash in our hands; we resent places that don’t accept card payments; they’re now outside of the norm. We want our money to be not in our wallet, but on a screen, electronic, and easily transferrable through a tap of our card or buttons on our phone. It’s easy to give, it’s effortless to reciprocate, and it takes seconds to do. Why should the way we thank people be any different?

OneHub | Recognition

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