Workplace Contests Can Better Your Recognition Game

Seventy-five percent – thtrophy-guyat’s the number of organizations with some sort of employee recognition program, according to research by Bersin and Associates. Seems like a positive thing for three out of four businesses, right? Not entirely. The same research revealed that 87 percent of those recognition programs focus on tenure and that tenure-based recognition has virtually no impact on organizational performance. In other words, employee recognition programs need help.

After the study was revealed in 2012, Josh Bersin, principal and founder of Bersin and Associates, wrote an article on it for Forbes. In the piece, he discussed his team’s findings and provided tips on how companies can achieve the kind of recognition that reaps benefits – like increased productivity, stronger employee engagement and lower turnover rates. We found that each of his tips can be implemented through contests. And of course, we wanted to share those findings.

Tip 1: “Recognize people based on specific results and behaviors.”

Bersin suggests rewarding employees for specific positive actions and behaviors, because it “creates a culture of ‘doing the right thing.’ ” Building contests around positive work behaviors provides a way for a manager to easily keep track of which employees are excelling in those behaviors – and then to recognize them for it. As for a manager also noticing “specific results,” that’s what contests are all about.

Tip 2: “Implement peer to peer recognition – not top down.”

A “job well done” that comes from peers means more than the same response from corporate leadership, according to Bersin. In typical work settings, however, it may be difficult for employees to stay up-to-date with colleagues’ accomplishments. That is, unless they’re all competing. Engaging teams in competition allows them to witness the strengths of their colleagues more often, in turn encouraging greater opportunities for peer-to-peer recognition.

Tip 3: “Share recognition stories.”

“When someone does something great and is recognized by their peers, tell people about it,” Bersin suggests. Contests provide a great opportunity to do just that. Plus, if an entire department participates in a contest, a manager is more likely to remember that – as opposed to one employee’s specific scenario that warrants recognition – as a talking point at the next team meeting. Once that manager does begin to discuss the contest, recognition of top contenders should follow naturally from there.

Tip 4: “Make recognition easy and frequent.”

Frequent contests offer frequent opportunities for recognition. This especially proves true for organizations that display scores throughout contests for everyone to see. A quick glance at the company’s LeaderTV or shared contest leaderboard means an easy opportunity to recognize top performers.

Tip 5: “Tie recognition to your own company values or goals.”

The great thing about workplace contests is that they can revolve around nearly anything and most of the time, still appeal to employees for the sake of competition itself. And just as managers can design contests around behaviors, they can also tie contests to company values or goals. Some may choose to host competitions that direct the company toward annual sales goals or that require a value such as excellent customer service to win. In any case, the opportunity exists to use such games in improving an entire organization.

In closing, we’ll leave you with just one more statistic, also courtesy of Bersin and Associates’ research: Organizations that excel at employee recognition are 12 times more likely to generate strong business. By implementing employee contests, your organization could be one of them. And by designing contests carefully (check out “Incentivize Sales, or the Behaviors that Lead to Sales?” or our Sales Contest Toolkit to learn more on this), you’ll increase its chances.

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