People love validation; it’s just human nature. That’s especially the case for the Millennial generation. There’s a wealth of research that indicates younger workers value public recognition as much – and sometimes even more – than monetary rewards.
Validation also is the “secret sauce” for the popularity of social media. As a group, Millennials enjoy using social media to keep tabs on friends and colleagues and gain the approval and attention of their peers, eager to see the likes, comments, and discussions from people in their network. Activity on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter is based on the sharing of content, and as such, we often look at creating compelling content to drive employee engagement and promote external sharing. But other strategies can encourage sharing. too. Recognition is a great way for communicators to encourage employees to share information with their networks.
As the Employee Communication and Engagement Platform leader, Firstup is fortunate to partner with more than 40 percent of the Fortune 100. This means we can share some proven examples of the fresh ways our customers have applied recognition techniques to boost employee sharing at their companies.
Create content that acknowledges your employees
No one likes to go unnoticed; we all love to have a spotlight occasionally shining on us. (Even if we don’t like to admit it.) People want to know that what they’re doing matters and is having an impact.
So, create content that highlights excellent work. Acknowledge when somebody goes above and beyond. For instance, at Firstup, we have a weekly Rapid Fire Friday. These are short videos where employees answer questions about themselves.
Rapid Fire Friday is popular because it’s about the employees and recognizes their great work, talents, and unique abilities! When you give people content about them, they’re going to share it on their social media channels. Engaging content that focuses on employees goes a long way.
Who doesn’t want to win a game?
Gamification is the trend toward motivating people to do something by creating a fun competition. A lot of people in sales, for instance, are naturally competitive. It’s why they’re in sales. And there are people who would compete for just about anything – even if only bragging rights.
Our customers have seen success when they introduce some low-key competition into their company sharing programs with a points system and awards. Here are some examples:
- A well-known technology company has a leaderboard for platform activity like sharing. The top three performers earn prizes each week. While the prizes change quarterly, they have ranged from cool socks and shirts to VIP passes to the company’s highly anticipated annual conference.
- A leading product delivery company has a leaderboard based on activities such as submitted and shared content – with winners earning prizes.
- Sutter Health, a Northern California healthcare system, has a leaderboard scoring platform shares, clicks, and reactions. Most recently, they had a “patriotic pets” contest for the July Fourth holiday. The photo with the most likes got posted on Sutter’s social media channels. It’s just another cool way of using recognition to incentivize employees.
One pro tip: Studies have shown that rewarding the same top performers again and again won’t change organizational behavior. So, focus on celebrating others with honors like “most improved” to highlight the contributions of others who are making an effort.
Finally, we’ve also seen companies use gamification to encourage sharing on Twitter. When the platform made changes earlier this year, some of our customers tweaked their leaderboards to award more points for sharing content on Twitter. It has worked so well that we’re recommending it as a best practice for all customers looking to improve their Twitter engagement.
Now, we don’t want exactly to call it bribery. But one, sure-fire way to get the attention of employees is to offer them free stuff in exchange for platform participation.
An East Coast convenience store chain awards company points to employees who download the platform app to their mobile devices. Those points can be exchanged for store products. Another example is a major grocery store chain that has enabled employees to redeem points accrued from platform activity for company merchandise.
And they don’t have to be prizes with a high dollar value, either.
Sutter Health also has created a “Sockapalooza” program where employees receive colorful socks if they download the mobile app and then engage with the platform. Cool socks appeal to healthcare workers because they are a fun way to customize their uniforms. This is an example of quantity over quality. Because socks are relatively inexpensive, Sutter has a lot more prizes to recognize employees and encourage participation.
These tactics fit into “What’s in it for me?” You give something to get something: sharing by employees.
Build momentum for a culture of sharing by making a concerted effort to encourage everyone to contribute. It can be as simple as reminding everyone to comment or re-share whenever a colleague has posted something. This fosters a greater sense of teamwork and camaraderie. You know, we’re all in this together.
A picture is worth a thousand words
You don’t have to post only articles. In fact, people often like sharing pictures more than they do text. Pictures showcase candid, unscripted moments inside the organization. Encourage employees to post their own photos at fun company events like picnics, volunteer activities, and even company town halls.
“Twitter done right”
Another way to recognize your employees is to highlight their tweets and shares as examples for the rest of the organization to follow. Start a “Twitter Done Right” recognition article series that displays a screenshot of an employee tweet that has all the right stuff. Showcase the tweet or share, talk about the employee (their handle, followers, and a little bit about them), and tell the rest of the team why this is something that everyone should follow.
Is it clever? Does it have a strong hashtag? What is the personal perspective? Let everyone know! This will help show appreciation to employees who take the time to get it right and will also help to educate colleagues.
These are just a few tricks that we’ve rounded up to help you start recognizing your employees. Do you have other good ideas? Let us know, and we’ll share them!