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Bringing core values alive with rewards and recognition

Core values help your company define its identity and orient its people. However, these principles aren’t always easy to instil in others, so ensuring your workers understand and follow them can be tricky. Recognition of value-driven behaviour could well be the missing link. Here are some tips to get you started.


     of European employees think it’s important that their company’s values fit their personal beliefs, according to research by SD Worx.

      From whiteboard to the real world

      Companies’ values tend to lie dormant like words on a page and aren’t always translated from the whiteboard to the real world. Your values might be great in theory, but because your workers never experience those values in their daily work, they might feel less motivated or even quit. In fact, according to a survey by SD Worx, 58% of employees think it’s important that their company’s values fit their personal beliefs. 

      Therefore, to get your team members to develop a deep connection with your organisation’s guiding principles, you need to make them tangible. Implementing a value-based recognition programme is one way to achieve that. A well-defined recognition strategy rewards workers for exemplary behaviour that reflects the company’s core values. 

      So, how do you create policies that reward such behaviours?

        Tip #1 Communicate your corporate values clearly

        Make sure all your employees are well aware of the core values that are key to your culture, mission and success.

        • weave your core values into job descriptions to attract like-minded candidates right from the start
        • give all new employees a personal induction session on the company values and what they mean
        • create an online quiz with rewarding gifts where team members can test their own understanding of the values and explore the behaviours required
        • encourage your staff to express the values in their own way - by submitting videos or photos
        • ask your team members to give lunchtime lectures on how those principles have led them to a successful career
        • organise Q&A sessions and workshops where employees can ask you and other senior managers how to put the values into practice

        Remember that your communication must also be in line with your corporate culture. If things are formal and structured, communication should follow the same pattern: it should be distributed at regular intervals and use more formal language. If your culture is more iterative and innovative, you can communicate using a more conversational, relaxed tone.

          Tip #2 Identify desirable behaviours linked to the core values

          Recognising your employee’s behaviour is an important factor for rewards. Confused about the type of behaviour you can reward? Below are some common corporate values and the kind of behaviour you can recognise:


          Recognise employees who provide exceptional service to customers (or internal service to other employees)


          Recognise attaining or exceeding quality standards


          Recognise process improvements and improved efficiencies


          Recognise creativity and problem solving


          Recognise employees helping one another


          Recognise the development of new skills, explore new capacities, and learn from mistakes


          Recognise obtaining input from diverse sources when making decisions


          Recognise safe work practices and the reduction of safety incidents, errors, and injuries

          Identifying desirable behaviours linked to the core values  helps remove confusion about how employees are expected to behave to uphold these values.

            Tip #3 Cultivate micro-recognition programmes

            Promote a continuous culture of appreciation and rewards whereby everyone receives proper recognition throughout the organisation. It’s important you immediately reward behaviours linked to the core values. Don’t wait for awards like “Employee of the Month” to acknowledge your people for their contributions. 

            Instead, make recognition real-time and regular, so it becomes part of your everyday culture. For example, employees who clearly understand and practise your core values could be rewarded with new job opportunities. You can use recognition-specific tools or apps to acknowledge instantly and publicly showcase employees who go the extra mile and demonstrate company values.

              Tip #4 Encourage colleague-to-colleague recognition

              Recognition doesn’t always have to come from leaders. Appraisals should come from both colleagues and managers to promote good work and behaviour. Peer-to-peer recognition notches up the employee recognition game. Team spirit and cohesion increase exponentially when team members motivate each other. 

              This type of recognition makes everyone feel that their work and behaviour are recognised and appreciated. It can be done through platforms like Yammer, Microsoft Teams, or even social media pages that publicly allow all employees to show appreciation for a team or individual. You can also design a system that allows for optional monthly point awards that employees and/or managers can give to their colleagues and/or team members.

                Tip #5 Encourage social recognition

                Social recognition is one of the best and cheapest ways to boost employee morale and commitment. It’s any form of appreciation that doesn’t involve a monetary component, from a simple “thank you” in the hallway to a simple digital badge. It can also be a shout-out at the weekly staff meeting or on the company’s internal social media. For example, you can include regular case studies in internal newsletters or the staff intranet to show how your employees live up to the values in practice and are rewarded for doing so.

                  Tip #6 Monitor progress and make changes where necessary

                  Finally, you must track the progress of the value-based recognition programme from time to time and make any changes required. That’s important to keep abreast of the changing needs and expectations of the workforce.

                    The results will speak for themselves!

                    Employee recognition in most organisations is focused entirely on employee achievements, performance or tenure. However, if you want your team to consistently perform in line with your core values and deliver concrete results for your business, you should focus more on offering multi-dimensional reward experiences - that acknowledge achievement and create a sense of purpose, belonging and self-worth.

                      Curious about other strategies you can use to become an employer of choice?

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                        Nazia Keenoo

                        Nazia Keenoo