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Social employee recognition: heart of talent management strategy

Employee recognition goes back to the early-1900s when Ford Motor’s founder Henry Ford was experiencing significant staff turnover impacting the production of vehicles.  He needed to ensure employees on the front-line met production quotas. In order to do so, he rewarded employees for their length of service with gifts to retain and engage them.

The world has since changed. Rewarding an employee for their length of service and engaging their “hands” on the production line doesn’t work for today’s employees. It’s now more important to engage people’s hearts and minds through recognition. The problem is durable – we will always be challenged with ways to engage and retain employees, but the solutions are changing as quickly as our workforce is.

One of those solutions is social employee recognition. It’s real and it’s impactful.  In fact, it sits on Gartner’s Hype Cycle of HCM Technologies which is poised to hit mainstream adoption in the next few years. Read on to quickly familiarise yourself with this concept in the age-old W5H format and see why it has the ability to impact daily talent management.


Social employee recognition is peer recognition through technology that enables frequent and in-the-moment appreciation of company behaviours, values and results that organisations want to see more of. It uses social principles that take recognition from what was traditionally a one-to-one act of appreciation to a one-to-many approach, breaking barriers of traditional recognition programmes and helping enact company strategies to improve employee and company performance.

Simple enough, right?  But, why should you care? Social employee recognition is becoming the heart of progressive integrated talent management strategies, supporting and complementing all elements, namely performance management, learning and development, and talent acquisition. Also recognition has proven to impact employee engagement and retention positively. Recent Harvard Business Review research found recognition as the most impactful employee-engagement driver.

Social employee recognition is peer recognition through technology that enables frequent and in-the-moment appreciation of company behaviours, values and results that organisations want to see more of

Beyond recognition stimulating intrinsic motivation to help positively impact engagement and retention, it also impacts performance. When authentic moments of recognition happen repeatedly in organisations, those behaviours and results get repeated.


Company-wide. Organisations are challenged with disparate recognition programmes across different locations and departments leading to inconsistencies in the employee experience.  Companies have found power in the ability to have a consistent message to employees that align to the organisational values, and to help enact company and talent management strategies.


This type of strategy must be inclusive – giving every employee the trust and opportunity to participate. A platform where employees are getting recognised on an ongoing basis is one employees actually like to use. The result is HR technology that employees love to use, with insight into talent that managers need to be better leaders, and it produces a return on investment that executives crave.


Your competitors already are. As technology supports advance analytics, mobile use for anywhere access and seamless integration into other HR systems, companies are beginning to see value in streamlining and maximising the impact of their traditional reward spend. As the battle for talent increases with the UK economy improving, it’s important now more than ever to engage, retain and attract key talent.


Before considering implementation, the most important task is starting with a foundation of behaviours from your talent management construct (values, competencies or results) that your company wants to see more of. Without establishing what recognition will be based on, all of the new trends and technology will not make it successful. Technology is an enabler. Success includes the right balance between human connection and technology.


If you’re interested in learning more or even considering a social recognition strategy, check a Brandon Hall report entitled Building the Business Case for Social Recognition Solutions, one of the more comprehensive and recent research studies on this topic.

You can also get more information about these types of solutions from Achievers, who have helped hundreds of global organisations implement social employee recognition into their talent management strategy resulting in dramatic employee and business success.

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