Social recognition and a desirable company culture

Company culture change has been a hot topic for some time now; even establishing a precise definition of exactly what company culture is has kept researchers and academics busy for years. About the only thing everyone does agree on is that successful culture change has proved hard to do.

Numerous companies have attempted to ‘improve’ their culture by embarking on ambitious programmes, only to find themselves debating why their efforts aren’t going to plan a few months or years later. According to data from Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends 2015 global survey, only 12 per cent of respondents believe their companies excel at driving the desired company culture.

Why? Well partly because you can’t just pick up a culture and try to glue it on top of what you already have. Culture change is not some kind of organisational facelift where you try to smooth out the wrinkles. It may make the surface look good but its effects will be artificial and temporary at best. Culture is a true reflection of the health, and personality, of a company. Cultures are organic entities that evolve as a consequence of the way a company operates, and that puts leaders in the spotlight.

Leaders have often set a culture in a certain direction without even knowing the consequence of their actions, or worse still knowing the consequence of their actions. Both scenarios being contributing factors in why culture change has become so important in today’s workplace. So how do you change a culture for the better? Well don’t expect to achieve it by simply emailing your employees and telling them this is what they now ‘need to do’.

Healthy corporate cultures have almost always been built upon trusted leaders who make sure the company invests time and energy into promoting employee ownership, and  by noticing what employees are saying, feeling and doing. Historically there have been many ways for managers to highlight employees, or the company to notice an employee or team, however very few mechanics existed where employees could notice each other.

This is why employee recognition is so significant to company culture change

This is why adopting social employee recognition has such an impact when it comes to shaping cultures for the better. Social recognition platforms are proving to be a win win for employees, and this is driving high adoption. The ongoing intrinsic motivation from giving recognition is changing the way we perceive employee motivation, what you “get” is being balanced by what you “give”. The emotional and professional satisfaction from giving, be it kind words or small rewards, is an extremely popular employee activity.

This high adoption is key, social recognition gives companies a way to connect employees through a two-way communication that is mutually beneficial, no big communication plan or prescriptive manager “drum beating” required. Social recognition also gives companies ongoing insights into what is making people feel engaged (or not) – something companies have traditionally been poor at doing according to Deloitte. It allows organisations to accurately understand the employee mood, good or otherwise, and not just on a snapshot basis.

Encouraging peers to recognise and if merited reward each other’s contributions rather than just receive an occasional pat on the back from a manager, means employees are now demonstrating “how we do things round here’.

My favourite culture quote is  “culture is the collective behaviour and shared assumptions that guide, and affect how employees identify with an organisation”. Social recognition simply allows employees to positively contribute to that identity, and a culture they can believe in.