Ebenezer Scrooge's Guide to Employee Recognition

December 7, 2017

December is upon us and with it, the opportunity to review the year passed, and how we recognise the contribution of our staff and colleagues.

A period of festive reflection happened to be very useful for Dickens’ Scrooge, whose employee engagement strategy changes dramatically overnight. His transformation begins with the words of Scrooge’s deceased business partner, Jacob Marley, now a miserable and tormented ghost. Marley is doomed to wander the earth as punishment for his greed, and Scrooge is unable to understand his misery:

“But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,” faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.“Business!” cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. "Mankind was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The deals of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!” 

Over the course of Christmas Eve, Scrooge learns that valuing those around you can be the source of much pleasure - “I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy. I am as giddy as a drunken man.” - but what can his redemption teach us when it comes to human resources?

A 2017 study by staffing firm OfficeTeam revealed that 66% of staff said they would leave their jobs if they didn’t feel appreciated, up from 51% in 2012. The same survey reports that 54% of senior managers believe it’s common for staff to quit due to lack of recognition. Nearly all exit interviews indicate that an individual leaves because he/she feels insufficiently valued. Ensuring that your employees feel valued is increasingly important, and getting it wrong is expensive: you lose knowledge, and skills, and the cost of recruitment includes money and time. Saving a few pounds on the Christmas party, or skipping the handwritten thank you cards from the CEO, might cost you more than you’d imagine.

Importantly, recognising staff for their achievements and behaviours - both technical and non-technical - does not need to be complicated, and has many benefits. A well-developed reward framework will support business strategy by encouraging employee engagement; employees who are recognised for their positive behaviours are likely to demonstrate those behaviours again.

An effective employee recognition scheme is simple, immediate, and powerfully reinforcing. It needs to be appropriate for the organisation, and must provide all staff with specific information about what behaviours and actions are being rewarded and recognised. Recognition can acknowledge individuals, teams, or departments, and can range from informal to formal, everyday to annual. Here, a competency framework – consistent with a robust appraisal system - allows reward to be closely linked to performance management and recruitment.

Scrooge’s metamorphosis - as a man, and an employer -  transforms his approach to employee reward and recognition. On Christmas morning, the new, enlightened Ebenezer ensures that Bob Cratchit has a turkey, gives him a pay-rise, and promises to help him look after his family.

As Christmas approaches, remember that recognising your staff for their hard work and loyalty - as Scrooge learns to do - can increase employee engagement, build goodwill, improve performance and reduce retention. If you would like help revamping your employee recognition strategy, designing competency architecture, or an appraisal framework, we would love to help. Get in touch today.

As consultants, we also like to reward behaviours in our clients. These are the behaviours that help us work most effectively, achieve the best results, and make the working relationship enjoyable. They include:

•   Openness and honesty - there is very little we’ve not seen before; nothing will surprise us.

•   Willingness to embrace change and new ideas

•   Timeliness and responsiveness.

As such, each year we nominate a Client of the Year award, and our 2017 winner will be contacted in the coming week.

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