by Jennifer Lumba | January 07, 2013
Can praise produce profits? As it turns out, yes. According to the latest survey from the Society For Human Resource Management and Globoforce, companies with employee recognition programs performed better than peers that failed to formally recognize workers.

Among the specific findings:
● 35 percent of those surveyed observed an increase in customer satisfaction versus 1 percent who saw a decline. 

● 30 percent reported increased employee productivity versus 1 percent who observed a decline. 

● 29 percent observed an increase in profits versus 3 percent who saw a decline.

● 25 percent reported an increase in employee retention versus 4 percent who observed a decline.

Interestingly, among the 77 percent of companies that had a recognition program, half tied it to stated organizational values. Meeting or exceeding shared expectations were key to receiving praise and rewards.

There’s power in this idea. Organizations that possess a broad understanding of what it means to deliver outstanding performance — and which reward publicly and consistently in accordance with benchmarks — are more likely to achieve greater goals. Social media make cultivating this sort of shared understanding simpler and cheaper than it’s ever been.

And yet, as effective as social media can be for encouraging workers to collaborate and recognize each other’s successes, balance is key. Employees that spend most of their days taking to Twitter and Facebook won’t produce anything more than a long stream of chatter.

Here are 10 tips for using popular and homegrown social networks to cultivate a high-performance culture:

1. Don’t Set Limits But Do Prescribe Guidelines 

Cut down on needless banter by giving employees examples of effective use of social media for collaboration and praise. Recommend tools and practices that preserve productivity.

2. Embrace Peer Pressure
Avoid mandates whenever possible. Instead, set team goals and reward and recognize regularly. Peers will police underperformers — both privately and publicly — in the quest to win praise.

3. Showcase Examples
Don’t just give employees free rein to do whatever they wish when it comes to on-the-job tweeting and posting. Find and reward best practices. Highlight the most creative approaches in order to give workers something to shoot for.

4. Measure Regularly

Use tools to monitor the amount of social media activity flying across the network and compare to progress. Are employees encouraging and recognizing each other more? Is retention up? Ask questions often and track the answers for later review.

5. Look for Patterns
All business activity is subject to patterns. Study social media to find out what types of recognition work best. Do certain hashtags go viral? Does team praise work as well as singling out members individually? Seek out the highest performing social recognition tactics and then fold them into your strategy.

6. Reward Outcomes Rather Than Activity
Don’t dish out goodies for busywork. Instead, watch to see how managers use social media to motivate and cajole and then reward the ensuing performance increases. And don’t just limit this practice to managers; follow peers who encourage their teammates. Dish out rewards to those whose positive influence is easily noticed in departmental results.

7. Don’t Be Ambiguous 
Employees should know exactly what’s required of them. And more than that, they should know what outstanding performance looks like. Use social media to make it easy for high performers to walk the path to achievement.

8. Hunt for Talent
A vibrant, productive social sphere needs many participants. Seek out workers who use the system well and recruit them into roles of greater responsibility. Let these high performers help you find others like them.

9. Create New Rules

Embrace the simple truth that there are no best practices for using social media to recognize workers for their contributions. Experiment often, measure success, and then refine practices based on your findings. Be a pioneer.

10. Be Consistent!
Whereas ambiguity breeds resentment and discontent, consistency brings peace. Embrace patterns. Be predictable so that employees have a good understanding of what it takes to be recognized. They might aim even higher than you expect.

Jennifer Lumba is the chief marketing officer of Rideau Recognition Solutions ( Built on state-of-the-art technology, Rideau’s employee recognition and customer loyalty programs change the way companies recognize employee service and achievement, reward individual and team performance, strengthen customer relationships, and create brand loyalty. Lumba can be reached at [email protected].