Poor ROI for Employee Recognition

In Make Their Day I estimated that 18 billion is spent each year on recognition. I have heard other estimates that are far higher: $27 billion for non-cash recognition and incentives, $117 billion when you include cash.

 And what do employees get out of it? You tell me. I want to hear your stories of the awards you have received. Was it meaningful or horrific? Or did you already forget what you received?

I don’t know your personal recognition story, but I do know that overall only about 40 percent of employees are satisfied with the recognition they receive.

I don’t think that is a very good return on a $18+ billion dollar investment.

 Yet I have clients with individual managers who have greater than 90 percent satisfaction, so the problem isn’t unreasonable, spoiled, and coddled employees. The problem is with program design and implementation.

Managers need:

  • Training on what works.
  • Training on use of programs.
  • To know senior management cares about recognition.
  • To be rewarded and recognized for offering effective recognition.
  • To be held accountable when they don’t.
  • Regular reminders to keep them focused.

In many companies those regular reminders come from my weekly tips. In others it is regular communication, both formal and informal talking up successes, asking for feedback, and offering suggestions for improvement.

Nothing earth-shattering here; just common sense that produces ROI.

Copyright 2008 Cindy Ventrice

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2 Responses to “Poor ROI for Employee Recognition”


  1. 1 goldberry00 March 5, 2008 at 9:16 am

    I can tell you this: no matter how much recognition you get, if it’s not from someone you respect, it amounts to zilch. I had one manager who was constantly storming into my shared office and announcing to the world how great of an employee I was! Even after I repeatedly told her it made me uncomfortable. This same manager never once gave me an official company thank-you card or certificate during our monthly reward meetings like all the other normal people.

    She drove me crazy. I quit.

  2. 2 Cindy Ventrice March 5, 2008 at 10:10 am

    You are right on target! Without respect, recognition means nothing. I have seen hard work viewed as recognition when I well-respected manager gives it, and $1000 bonuses viewed with suspicion and disdain when provided by a disrespectful manager.

    Cindy


Comments are currently closed.



My name is Cindy Ventrice. I am the author of the best-selling book Make Their Day! Employee Recognition That Works and the companion guide Recognition Strategies That Work.

My work has been quoted in The New York Times, Alaska Airlines Magazine, Workforce Magazine, and Tim Sanders' book The Likeability Factor.


Visit my website www.maketheirday.com today!


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