Looking for a way to egg-cite your Gen Y workforce? Focus on recognition.

Recognition and reward are effective methods for motivating and inspiring performance, loyalty and trust in the workplace.

Recognition has a direct impact on employee performance too. Fostering a culture of recognition can help to:

    • Reinforce company values
    • Drive higher levels of performance
    • Align individual/team goals
    • Promote ideal behavior
    • Communicate business strategy

Without it, employees quickly become disconnected and dissatisfied – bad news for your brand.

For students and grads, recognition is a part of everyday life. Gen Y is accustomed to receiving instantaneous feedback: from the video games they grew up playing to the notifications they receive on social media, they’re always aware of their standing.

To ensure your Gen Y hires feel valued and inspired, incorporate a variety of ongoing, meaningful recognition programs to help fuel their efforts and celebrate great work.

Formal recognition

Traditional recognition programs provide employers with opportunities to recognize employee contributions in a structured way. These programs are often more rigorous and exclusive, meaning expectations are clearly defined and well-publicized.

Formal initiatives could include compensation-based recognition (bonuses), prestige programs (President’s Club) or award programs (honouring leadership, customer service, innovation, etc).

Optimize your recognition program by including Gen Y-friendly prizes in performance-based competitions. These contests are meant to foster friendly competition between colleagues in order to increase overall performance – they are generally team-specific and occur on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis.

Performance-based competitions reward achievement by their very nature, so the incentives to get involved have to be worth the effort for Gen Y. Possible ideas? An afternoon off, a gift card to a popular online retailer, electronics or event tickets (sports game, concert, live performance).

Remember: prizes should be creative, relevant and reflect a general understanding of Gen Y’s interests.

TTi utilizes a prominent section of their TalentEgg profile to let Gen Y know about their rewards and recognition program. The company includes their national rewards and recognition program as a point of engagement in their job descriptions – an effective way of communicating company values to talent.

Informal recognition

On the flip side, informal recognition programs offer employers frequent opportunities to recognize and engage their workforce. These programs are generally more casual and spontaneous, ensuring that company gratitude is accessible to more people.  

Informal initiatives celebrate everyday contributions that aren’t as easily measured, like boosting team morale or volunteering to take on extra work – because of this, they’re often seen as being more personal or sincere.

Informal programs could involve sharing success stories (during team meetings, in the company newsletter or blog), sending personal emails of thanks from senior leaders, giving handwritten cards or notes to employees on professional anniversaries or milestones, or handing out certificates or desk accessories (trophies) honouring employee contributions.

Gen Y is peer-oriented, meaning they place a lot of value on the opinions of those in their generational cohort. Employers can use this to their advantage by incorporating peer-to-peer recognition programs into the workplace.

Work with each department or team at your organization to set up an anonymous system where staff can nominate one another for an informal monthly award. Award categories should be capped at no more than three for impact and should recognize individual achievements.

Potential categories could include: “Behind the scenes” for those whose actions aren’t normally in the limelight, “Helping hand” for those who display mentorship qualities or “Creative thinker” for those who bring fresh ideas to the table.

WooBoard is an employee recognition platform that blends social media with game culture to create a platform designed to encourage engagement and success sharing. It’s an innovative way to recognize everyday achievements and empower employees from all levels of an organization to get involved in the process.

Discussion: How do you recognize employee contributions?