Driving Authentic & Impactful Employee Recognition Through the AIRe Framework
Having a culture of recognition reflects a company’s commitment towards its most important asset — its employees. Recognition can drive employee productivity, engagement, and retention at the workplace. And as we transition to permanently hybrid work culture, the significance of employee recognition goes up manifold.
But most organizations treat recognition programs as a corporate exercise with no clarity about the outcome they want to achieve. They don’t define the metrics clearly nor do they measure the impact of such programs. Sometimes there is a misalignment between the program objectives with organizational goals, which results in conflicting outcomes.
Anjan Pathak, CTO & Co-founder, Vantage Circle, believes that organizations need to make a mindset shift when it comes to recognition. It is no longer simply a check-box activity. It needs to be authentic, impactful, and an integral part of the company culture.
To enable companies to deliver impactful recognition at the workplace, we have put our decade of learnings to create a new framework — the AIRe Framework for Employee Recognition.
AIRe Framework: Explained
The AIRe Framework is a powerful tool that gives companies a baseline for creating a strong foundation for their recognition program.
It is based upon Appreciation (A), Incentivization (I), and Reinforcement (R) as the key tenets of recognition, with Emotional Connect (e) as the driving force. In short, we call it the AIRe Framework to signify recognition as the air employees need to breathe upon and thrive.
Companies can assess their recognition programs based on the themes explained below:
Appreciation refers to an acknowledgment of an individual’s worth. But it is not always about high performance or extraordinary results. It can also be for things like day-to-day tasks and teamwork efforts.
It is the practice of offering incentives to motivate the employees. Attractive incentives inspire higher performance and loyalty from employees. These incentives can be both monetary and non-monetary.
Reinforcement is a type of communication that motivates people to behave in the desired way. Acts of reinforcement aim to guide employees towards the behaviors that the organization wants to promote. Once appreciated, they are more likely to continue doing that work.
4. Emotional Connect
This is the key driving force of authentic and impactful recognition. Emotional connect refers to the strong feelings associated with the act of recognition, both for the one giving it and the one receiving it. This feel-good factor comes from how it is given rather than what is being given.
Checking the AIRe Quality of R&R programs
The AIRe Framework breaks down the themes of recognition into 8 dimensions for R&R policy design. Companies can use these dimensions to check the AIRe Quality of their recognition programs and find out exactly where improvement needs to be made.
Coverage refers to how much of the workforce is covered by the program. As everyone likes appreciation, recognition programs should cover all employees from all levels.
Psychologists say that there’s no such thing as too much recognition. This dimension measures how often the rewards are being given.
Value refers to the importance employees give to rewards. It can vary from person to person. The monetary value may be used as a proxy to measure the importance of what they get.
Visibility analyzes if employees know what they need to do to get recognized. If the employees are unclear on what to do to qualify for recognition, it won’t drive impact.
Specificity is the extent to which the program guides employees towards various behaviors. If the set of behaviors promoted by the company is not clearly defined, it will not create a broader organizational impact.
Alignment determines if the employee recognition program is deviating from the company’s core values. Behaviors promoted by the program need to match with those promoted by the company’s core values.
Personalization measures how customized a recognition program is for the people. It includes assessing policies like sending personalized notes, giving employees their choice of rewards, etc.
It is the way recipients receive recognition. In-person delivery with a personalized note is a powerful method. Even the smallest of positive gestures can make a huge difference. Simply tap into your creativity to appreciate your people better.
How are companies going to benefit from it?
Using the AIRe Framework, companies can examine the recognition culture prevalent at their workplaces and identify areas for improvement. Suppose they don’t have a running recognition program. In that case, they can use this framework to design, build, and implement a sound recognition policy.
By checking the AIRe Quality of existing recognition programs, companies can drive several organizational outcomes, like:
- Employee motivation
- Employee engagement
- Retention rates
- Employee loyalty
Impactful recognition can help align individual goals with the company’s mission. Moreover, a culture where peers don’t hesitate to encourage each other is great for team morale and motivation.
How is the AIRe Framework unique?
The AIRe framework aims to revolutionize recognition programs by changing the way organizations perceive recognition.
As our tagline goes, “recognition at work is like the air we breathe” — necessary and energizing. We help employers provide it in the right manner.
Moreover, the AIRe approach considers all dimensions of recognition into account while designing a program. It moves beyond typical measures such as long service awards or employee of the month awards.
AIRe demonstrates that even a culture of peer-to-peer non-monetary social recognition can yield great results in the long run. Recognition doesn’t always have to be exclusive or tied to outstanding achievement. Sometimes, it just needs to be about appreciating and valuing the person’s efforts that they put in daily.
Also, it is not just about the act of recognition. AIRe puts special emphasis on the emotions involved in the act of recognition. We believe that the impact of recognition comes from how it is given rather than what is given. Rather than monetary value, the emotional value behind an award can have more impact on the receiver.
What is the significance of this framework today?
The ongoing decade is critical for the R&R space. The world of work is going through a transformation. We have an expanding millennial workforce that typically requires more feedback than older generations. Companies are engaged in a competitive war for talent to attract new employees and keep existing employees engaged.
Global crises like pandemics have accelerated the advent of the hybrid work culture. As people remain isolated from their peers, remote workers feel drained for having no real work-life balance.
Despite these pressures, people are adapting to the new normal to make sure that the wheels keep turning. Now, more than ever, employees deserve to feel appreciated.
HR must lead the digital transformation with a growth mindset and investing in the right technology to make recognition more impactful. SaaS-based tools like Vantage Rewards are successfully helping HR automate and simplify their recognition programs.
Along with the right tools, getting the construct of the recognition framework right is of utmost importance. A well-designed framework should be accessible, understandable, measurable, and aligned to business objectives. This is where AIRe comes into the picture.
The AIRe framework enables continuous impactful recognition in the daily workflows. It helps HR create dynamic recognition programs that can actually make a difference in the engagement and retention efforts.