Getting appreciation right, New York to New Delhi

Robert Ordever
O.C. Tanner Europe
Blogger
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As an HR professional, you will understand the importance of effective staff appreciation for creating an engaged, motivated, innovative and productive workforce. However many business leaders still ‘fall down’ on the implementation of an appreciation programme, especially when the organisation has offices outside of the UK. Even SMEs with just a couple of offices in other parts of the world can struggle to get staff appreciation right, but why is this? The answer often lies in a blinkered and inflexible approach to appreciation.

For appreciation success, it’s important to understand the different needs and nuances of your employees. Start by clarifying your recognition objectives and priorities for each country. In America, for example, staff are most likely to value performance-based recognition whereas in India, constant recognition for all manner of achievements is craved. Indian workers want to be highly praised and celebrated in front of their co-workers and be part of big scale appreciation ceremonies. And so, in designing a recognition strategy, it’s important to consider what’s important for each region. After all, an appreciation programme that isn’t considered meaningful or relevant to employees will simply fail.

Distinct, ring-fenced appreciation programmes aren’t the way forward, however. It’s important to implement a single, cross-company appreciation strategy without losing sight of local needs. This ensures equitable experiences and fairness and allows you to more easily track and report on the success of the programme. Local leaders must also be involved in the design, implementation, launch and running of the recognition programme. Having champions at a local level will considerably improve its chances of success.

Another key consideration is HOW staff appreciation is to be delivered. Research tells us that Australian employees prefer email-based recognition, whereas in Japan, verbal recognition is championed. Interestingly, Indian employees like all manner of communications, from handwritten notes and phone calls through to more formal web-based appreciation tools. By knowing how staff prefer to receive communication is vital if they’re to be successfully and effectively reached.

Getting recognition right globally doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult, it just has to be approached with an understanding of what’s important and culturally relevant to the region. Here are my top five tips for achieving global recognition success:

  • Don’t be afraid to seek guidance from an external recognition expert – a partner with real global presence and experience.
  • Ensure your appreciation programme includes three key strands - Career celebrations, 'above and beyond' recognition and recognition that ‘notices effort’.
  • Allow for local flexibility, for example, if a wellness initiative is key in one country but not another, allow for this.
  • Involve local leaders. If head office rolls-out an appreciation strategy that doesn’t involve local stakeholders, there will be limited buy-in.
  • Think holistically. Consider all aspects of delivering a successful strategy, from local language considerations and recognition technologies through to training leaders on how to deliver appreciation effectively.

There is much to be gained from rolling-out an appreciation strategy that works globally and not just in your UK office. By taking into account local nuances, traditions and stakeholders as part of a cross-company appreciation programme, this will ensure high levels of engagement and a strong organisational culture, from New York to New Delhi.

About Robert Ordever

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Robert joined O.C. Tanner in August 2014. From luxury retail at Harrods to Premier League football with Fulham FC, Robert's HR and operational background has given him a real passion for creating a workplace culture that truly gets the best out of its teams. 

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