by Razor Suleman | July 26, 2011
Although the workforce has evolved -- it is now composed of over 50 percent of Millennial and Gen X employees -- companies’ recognition practices have remained the same.  Retaining talent and driving results have more recently become two obstacles that employers constantly struggle to overcome.  To boost engagement, drive performance, and get results, employers must adopt Motivation 3.0 best practices to leverage business success.  

Effective management is critical to driving motivation.  While a historical definition of management meant obtaining compliance from employees, the demands of the current workforce highlight a significant gap between compliance and engagement. Today’s employee thrives in an environment where recognition is a rhythm and feedback is constant.  

Managers must instill autonomy in employees and engage the workforce by empowering them to have control over their work.  

Employees want to know that they are contributing to the company’s overall vision.  Continuous recognition validates employees’ sense of belonging and purpose.  Frequent meetings serve as a feedback outlet to instill purpose into your workforce.  Take your feedback to the next level: align it with your company’s overall objectives.  The most deeply motivated people hitch their desires to a cause larger than themselves.

How can you ensure that your company is embracing the demands of the current workplace and moving away from archaic recognition techniques?  

Replace Annual Performance Reviews With Everyday Recognition and Coaching
Annual performance reviews are a dated means of providing feedback in the workplace. Millennials have grown up in an era that is entirely influenced by technology; feedback is immediately available in an abundance of forms of communication. Everyday recognition is what motivates employees, resulting in those positive behaviors being repeated. 

Stop Using Annual Recognition Techniques Such as Years of Service Awards to Boost Performance
Despite workforce advancements, companies’ recognition tactics have remained the same, hindering the ability to retain top talent. While 92 percent of companies still offer a years of service recognition platform, according to our annual "Class Of" study, only 17 percent of employees actually want this program.  Millennials have also proven to be motivated by intangible, experiential rewards. By moving away from years of service awards, employers will shed the short-termism mentality and drive long-term behaviors.

Encourage Your Employees to Recognize Each Other
By empowering employees to recognize each other, employers can motivate a multi-generational workplace.  Peer-to-peer recognition is the purest form of recognition -- all employees like to be recognized for a job well done, but recognition from one’s peers always has a special significance due to its sincerity.  Empower your employees to motivate each other by giving your workforce the tools and encouragement to recognize their peers’ successes.  

Provide Choice With Reward Selection 
The most effective way to drive long-term performance is to provide employees with an intrinsic motivator -- meaningful recognition tied to the ability to choose their own rewards.  

Infuse the Workplace With a Sense of Your Mission
Great companies who have high employee engagement have based their foundation on their sense of corporate culture.  Align your recognition practices with your corporate culture to instill the organizations values and mission within your employees. Be mindful that employees who act with ownership are not only nurtured, it is also their nature.  While higher engagement can increase autonomy, employers should hire employees whose DNA aligns with the corporate DNA.  

Razor Suleman is the CEO and founder of I Love Rewards, a provider of web-based employee rewards and recognition. I Love Rewards works with North American employers to recruit, retain, and inspire employees, and drive results most important to business success. For more information, visit