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Using Social Recognition to Promote “Inclusion”

January 23, 2018
| ByMike Ryan

In my last edition, I talked about “generational influences” and stressed that they are as important as “job roles” when optimizing employee engagement. 

Thanks to countless volumes of research, HR leaders have become well schooled on the conditions that drive an employee’s commitment to the organization. Still there’s so much more to consider on the subject. 

Commitment, clarity and confirmation play huge roles

Employees who understand (and agree with) the direction of the company are inclined to serve it well. Workers who know what’s expected of them (and agree that those expectations are fair and within their reach) also tend to be more committed. And, of course, employees who feel that their efforts are recognized and appreciated become more emotionally invested in performing at levels that are “above and beyond.” 

Those three factors have been the focus of progressive HR teams for some time. Yet, HR needs to do more. It still needs to expand the personal connection an employee feels with the company and the people they work with. While 60% of senior executives acknowledge that their workers are more engaged now than they were three years ago, more than half also believe that the current levels are still insufficient. In other words, your boss wants you to think more holistically and get the numbers up. 

How “inclusion” influences engagement 

That perception alone should compel every human capital professional to seek out additional points of view that can answer and ultimately address the engagement gap the c-suite is expressing.  

Being connected to the organization’s goals, being clear on your role and feeling like you are part of the company’s success are three core components of employee engagement. But companies looking to approach engagement from an additional angle might want to also consider how “inclusion” influences its outcome.

One of the most pronounced changes within the modern-day workforce is its shift toward virtual work. As organizations expand their operational footprints and as more sophisticated technologies ease collaboration across physical distances, companies have adopted more virtual and more decentralized structures. Here mobile-accessible social recognition has proven itself to be a sure-fire advantage.

Social recognition can also improve upon inclusion issues and be the remedy for individual biases getting in the way of optimal performance.

While primarily connected to the concept of diversity, “inclusion” also refers to an employee’s sense of belonging. When people feel connected and comfortable with one another they are more likely to feel engaged and contribute more to the organization.

Inclusion within the workplace has three impediments; the physical distances between people working from various locations; a reliance on technology that reduces human interaction; and (perhaps the most overlooked) the personal preconceptions that make some people prejudge or show less tolerance toward others. That employee’s “inner character” dictates not only how they approach their responsibilities but also how they interact with others. It can have an enormous effect on how fellow employees view their working experience.

When companies assess what a “valued employee” is, they put a lot of weight on the following: will they share information and inspire peers; will they manage their time (not to mention the time of others) efficiently; will they adjust well to shifting conditions and encourage others to do the same? Most importantly, will they respect others no matter what their make-up, background or personal preferences are? 

An employee’s true character impacts everything relating to personal accountability, ethical behavior and a respect for diversity. And recognition is a great way for businesses to nurture the “inner character” of their employees. Making that recognition “social” is how creative companies promote inclusion.

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