Being Inclusive In Employee Recognition

Do you have an inclusive, diverse workplace?  These days, most companies strive to, and many managers believe that they do.

Unfortunately, their employees in minority groups tend to feel differently.  In fact, according to a recent survey, a staggering 83% of employees in a minority group feel that their employers talk about minorities in ways that “box employees into traditional categories” which runs counter to the very idea of diversity.

If you want to up your game, and you’ve already got an employee recognition program in place, here are a few simple things you can do to ensure that your recognition program is as inclusive and diverse as your workplace itself:

No One Size Fits All Solutions

Recognize and understand that a “job well done” can take very different forms, depending on the context and the type of work being done.  Given this reality, if you’re using a single standard of recognition across your entire organization, odds are excellent that you’re leaving someone out and discounting certain types of contributions.

Empower Your Employees

Depending on how big your company is and how many people you have in your employ, you may honestly not be the best person, or in the best position to fairly judge the contributions of everyone. 

Here, the solution is simple, but can be terrifying if you’re in the habit of micromanaging things:  Empower your employees to recognize the contributions of their peers.  This is effective because if you truly have a diverse workplace, that diversity will be reflected in the steering committee you have for your recognition program and they’re probably in a better position to know who’s contributing and in what kinds of ways.

Take a Data Driven Approach

This applies to both you and to your employees, assuming you’ve empowered them to make recognition decisions.  Recognition should never happen on the basis of “the feels.”  If you’re going to recognize someone, then it should be on the basis of the value that individual is bringing to the company.

Granted, going back to the point about there being no “one size fits all” solution, the metrics will vary depending on the type of work being performed, but by using a data driven approach, you proactively avoid the opposite problem of being accused of favoritism.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

None of the items above will be as effective as they could be if you’re not in regular communication with the employees on your program’s steering committee and your employees in general.

Commit to weekly check ins (or use whatever interval makes the most sense for your organization) and solicit feedback.  How effective do your employees feel the program is?  Is it as inclusive as it could be?  Is it recognizing a broad range of employee contributions?

If there are problems on any of these fronts, your employees will let you know, and if you take decisive action based on their feedback, your program will not only steadily, incrementally improve, but it will become ever more inclusive.

Diversity and inclusivity isn’t difficult but it does take work.  If you take the time to do it right, you will be richly rewarded, because studies have shown that truly diverse, inclusive workplaces are up to 36t% more productive than those that aren’t.