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How to build organisational culture around reward and recognition

Jamie King | May 20, 2019

Company culture is a critical part of any business. It can be the key factor that enables or inhibits your capacity to hire and retain staff; it can impact on productivity and profitability… ultimately, it can be the difference between success and failure.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines ‘culture’ as ‘the general customs and beliefs of a particular group of people at a particular time’. However, this definition is clearly addressing the term in its broadest sense. When reviewing it in the context of your organisational culture, there is a risk that it could be interpreted that culture is somewhat organic - a natural phenomenon that emerges from the individuals that make up your specific workforce, in the particular environment of your business. And this would be a risky interpretation indeed. When it comes to company culture, leaving it to fate could have serious consequences.

Organisational culture should not be something that just occurs. It should be something that you define, shape and nurture, proactively and strategically. After all, it is the embodiment of your company’s values and purpose – neither of which you would leave to chance. If your culture is to really work for you, if it is to support how your business achieves its goals, it is essential that you play a proactive role in its development.

In short, you have to build it. That said, every organisation has its own personality, and we are certainly not suggesting there is a ‘one-size-fits-all’ business culture template; your unique culture should be a reflection of the business’ values, goals and ethics. But there is one element that every organisation should have at the core of its culture – and that is reward and recognition.

Building an organisational culture around the principles of rewarding and recognising your staff is a straightforward and yet incredibly impactful way to ensure that your organisational culture contributes to your ongoing success. Indeed, if the idea of expressing gratitude and demonstrating thanks to your staff feels at odds with the existing culture, then it is probably an indication that something needs to change – and fast.

There are many ways that emphasising reward and recognition within an organisation’s culture can make a difference to staff and the business alike. Demonstrating that its leaders are not just noticing the efforts of their workforce but expressing thanks for them, makes people who might otherwise feel demotivated or ignored far more likely to engage in the company at a deeper level. And this engagement is at the heart of a successful organisational culture. It is hard to create a cohesive identity and personality when the individual people that make up the business as a whole don’t really care about the business as a whole. Showing how much their specific contribution means will enable them to invest in the company’s objectives and vision, and help them to understand the important role they can play in making this a reality.

Encouraging your employees to nominate each other for rewards - or just an acknowledgment of exceptional performance or effort – is another great way to foster a culture that says ‘we are all in this together’. The gestures you offer don’t need to be expensive – a good reward and recognition programme will offer a host of thoughtful and creative ways to express gratitude to your staff without breaking the bank. Indeed, simply saying ‘thank you’ can be as powerful as any gift-based reward.

Moreover, designing a reward and recognition programme that links directly to your organisation’s values ensures that your employees are engaged for the right reasons and in a way that will help build the culture that you want. For example, if innovation is important to your business, make sure people are recognised for it. If taking a ‘disruptive approach’ is crucial to your future success, factor that in to your scheme. This can be particularly useful when it comes to dealing with large or international workforces. Organisations often struggle to create a genuine culture and set of values that rings true across the globe. Employee recognition can make a real difference here. By being very clear about which behaviours are being rewarded, how and why, employers can clearly reflect the values that really matter to them.

So, whilst some aspects of organisational culture are spontaneous, and occur naturally through the people within the business, there are ways that you can direct and shape its development. And one of the best ways to do so is through reward and recognition programs - ensuring that the individuals and teams that create your company culture are people who feel valued, respected and who understand that they are critical to its successes.

Employee recognition can help create a healthy company culture. Download our free global reward and recognition e-Book to find out more about how to build and implement an effective global reward and recognition programme.

Download Global Reward and Recognition e-Book

Topics: Reward and Recognition