Millennials and mobile are changing employee recognition for the better

There are some powerful trends shaping today’s employee recognition programmes. One of the greatest shifts comes from developments in mobile technology, which goes hand in hand with the mobile first generation, millennials.

Organisations are raising their game to make sure their recognition practices both fit employee behaviour, and nurture a company culture where they can thrive. So how are organisations raising their game, and why are mobile and millennials changing employee recognition for the good of us all?

1. Regular feedback is replacing the annual review

Even today recognition remains an annual event as part of the performance review in many organisations. Research from Bersin and Associates in their ‘The State of Employee Recognition in 2012’ report reveals 70% of employees say they’re only recognised once a year if at all.

But this is starting to change. Millennials are not prepared to wait for a year to get feedback about how they’re performing. They’ve grown up in a mobile world of online conversations, instant responses and constant feedback and they expect this in the workplace too. Organisations are starting to realise this and act on it – because they know they’ll lose them otherwise.

2. Top-down recognition only is becoming a thing of the past

Not only do millennials expect regular feedback. They expect to receive it via a mutual ongoing conversation – not through the hierarchy-led top-down processes of the past. Many companies have worked hard to create a culture of recognition but they’ve focused on developing managers to ‘do’ recognition. While manager input will always be an important aspect, true recognition cannot be solely top down.

3. Employee recognition is no longer a one-off award ceremony

By its very nature recognition is social. And undoubtedly social celebrations have their place in employee recognition. But too many companies have regarded them as their entire employee recognition programme.

The physical and virtual worlds are merging more and more thanks to advances in mobile technologies. And that presents the opportunity for communities of people in (and outside) the workplace to recognise and show appreciation for the achievements and efforts of others. It doesn’t replace other forms of celebration. It doesn’t mean you have to move away from all other methods of employee recognition. By combining them you can raise employee recognition to a whole new level.

4. Culture change becomes sustainable

Mobile is absolutely everywhere. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a customer or an employee; people run their lives using mobile technology.

Culture change interventions in the past have required people to change behaviour – and they’ve come unstuck as a result. But use of mobile is already an established behaviour. Using social recognition to show ongoing appreciation doesn’t demand new behaviours from the majority of the workforce. Recognition becomes sustainable.

At the same time, the actions and behaviours that bring a company’s values to life are consistently amplified and highlighted across the organisation. As a result, the desired culture builds steadily, organically and sustainably.

5. Individual achievement makes way for collaboration

Employee recognition programmes are starting to create more open workplace environments. Peer to peer recognition shifts the emphasis to sharing, recognising and innovating. This shapes a workplace that values far greater collaboration rather than rewarding behaviours based on individual achievements.

6. Familiar technology sustains engagement

It’s not only social recognition that’s taking off in the workplace. There are many applications of mobile technology that are becoming increasingly crucial to running a business successfully. But one thing unites them and that’s the fact they all deliver engaging experiences. That means high adoption levels.

Given the challenges around sustainability of employee recognition programmes of the past, that’s good news for HR professionals and businesses as a whole.