How Employee Recognition Can Support Inclusion In The Workplace


June 30, 2020


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Diversity and inclusion programs, and the progressive thinking behind them, are essential to organizations – influencing their values, culture, policies, and procedures.

When you democratize employee recognition with Kudos, everyone's successes are visible. Everyone has a voice.

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Diversity and inclusion programs, and the progressive thinking behind them, are essential to organizations – influencing their values, culture, policies, and procedures. While the diversity side of these programs deals with who gets hired and why, the inclusion side is about creating and maintaining workplaces where every person feels welcome, safe, and valued for who they are. Both are vital, but here we will look at the inclusion side.

Our thesis is simple. While often overlooked, a recognition program can help organizations make important strides in creating an inclusive workplace.

Here’s how:

Give everyone the power to be heard

One of the great innovations and insights of modern recognition programs has been to democratize recognition by making it peer-to-peer. This is a major advancement from the previous “top-down” style, which only gave voice to senior managers with narrow criteria for workplace recognition.

When you democratize recognition, everyone has a voice: your team decides which actions, tasks, accomplishments, attitudes, and values get recognized. Recognizing diverse viewpoints not only creates a more innovative culture, but also spreads a feeling of empowerment to a wider range of people.

When everyone is heard, everyone feels valued.

Promote a diverse range of qualities and values

Your core values are the pillars of your company’s culture. An effective recognition platform leaves room for companies to customize the values and behaviours they want to see from their teams.

For example, a list of qualities could include: attentive, communicative, compassionate, creative thinking, execution, gratitude, intentional, positive, supportive, teamwork, timely, passion, professional, accountable, and agile.

Having a wide range of qualities to choose from encourages us to think more broadly about the qualities and values that matter to us. This leads to more people getting recognized for more actions – spreading the feeling of belonging more widely across the company. And perhaps more importantly, we are inspired to appreciate and value the different strengths and capabilities that make us all individuals.

Encourage values and actions that increase a sense of belonging

A well-designed recognition program can also lead team members to think and act in inclusive ways. Recognition in a business can be thought of as coming in two forms: appreciative and performance based. Both are important, but appreciative recognition is often overlooked. That said, a well-designed recognition program can help an organization find balance.

Appreciative recognition honors team members for everyday actions. Delivering someone’s documents when we go by the printer could earn someone recognition for being “Attentive.” Making sure everyone is heard at meetings would be “Compassionate” and “Supportive.” Contributing to group activities in a video call: “Teamwork.” Raising morale with a well-timed joke: “Positive.” Especially when shared, these simple gestures are the building blocks of an inclusive culture.

Of course, recognition is a great way to support and encourage team members who are consciously supporting a respectful, compassionate, inclusive, and diverse workplace.

Get data that helps you know how to improve inclusion

Recognition platforms typically include dashboards, reports, leaderboards, and the ability to see the messages people are sending. The most important benefit is that you can see if any individuals or groups are being left out, and take action.

You can also see and track which values people in your organization are living and expressing. For example, if you see a lot of recognition for qualities like compassion, positivity, support, and teamwork, you’re probably on the right track to encouraging an inclusive workplace. If all the recognition being sent in your organization is for more performance-based qualities, you might have some work to do.

Make connections you might not normally make

When you actively encourage recognition and make it easy – as recognition platforms are designed to do – you are more likely to see people connecting with others outside of their inner circle. This is especially valuable in the era of remote work, where a recognition platform can supplement the usual “physical” interactions that you expect around the office.

Along with your other initiatives, we think you’ll find a recognition program a powerful tool in creating and maintaining an inclusive workplace. Every team member should feel welcome, and valued for who they are.

More: What COVID can teach us about diversity and inclusion

We had the honor of having Cornell Verdeja-Woodson, a DiversityBusiness Partner for Google Cloud, as a guest on our Work From Home Showpodcast. Cornell has a very original and thought-provoking take on what the remote work era can teach us about privilege and diversity and inclusion. Hear the podcastRead the blog.

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About Kudos

Kudos is an employee engagement, culture, and analytics platform, that harnesses the power of peer-to-peer recognition, values reinforcement, and open communication to help organizations boost employee engagement, reduce turnover, improve culture, and drive productivity and performance. Kudos uses unique proprietary methodologies to deliver essential people analytics on culture, performance, equity, and inclusion, providing organizations with deep insights and a clear understanding of their workforce.

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