When my wife Linda and I had coffee with a neighbor recently, our neighbor complained about the lack of recognition in her company. She heads the business improvement area in a billion dollar company and is paid a salary of several hundred thousand dollars a year. Yet even at her senior level she was unhappy about the way top management failed to recognize her work – which improved her company’s bottom line by many millions of dollars. What’s more, operational managers were trying to take the credit for some of her work. She was actually thinking of leaving the company due to the lack of recognition for her good achievements. One solution is to boost employee recognition with mobile apps, which you can read about in this article.
This story is a strong reminder that hunger for recognition is one of the strongest motivators for employees, ahead of money and various other influences. And communication is a key element of successful employee recognition.
I have written several articles and an ebook about employee recognition, having managed several such projects in-house and as a consultant for various organizations. Through all these experiences I’m still amazed how senior managers overlook such a simple concept so much. It is not difficult to set up – as you can read in my article, “Key principles for effective employee recognition activities.”
Boost employee recognition with mobile apps
Mobile apps or platforms for recognizing employees make it easier to to give due praise and acknowledgement for work well done. Nevertheless, don’t overlook the fact that face-to-face expressions of recognition are more effective than digital versions. On the other hand, the COVID pandemic has forced many employees to work from home, which will probably continue on a hybrid basis. This would tend to suit the use of mobile apps more than previously.
Kim Behnke from People Managing People has wrote an excellent article in December 2023 on the best mobile apps for recognizing employees for work well done. She has listed and reviewed her top 10 apps in detail, and also has listed another 20 apps that people might consider. Very professionally, she has also discussed her selection criteria for the two sets of lists, and shows answers to frequently asked questions as well.
- Deel — Best recognition tool within a global HR solution
- Nectar — Best employee recognition and rewards platform for strengthening employee retention
- Mo — Best employee recognition and rewards platform for hybrid teams
- Bonusly — Best recognition platform for incentivizing high-performing teams
- Workvivo — Best for strengthening corporate culture and creating a positive work environment
- Motivosity — Best for empowering employees to reward each other
- Lattice — Best for connecting praise with performance and goals
- ClearCompany — Best for measuring the impact of recognition & engagement programs over time
- Guusto — Best recognition platform for companies with frontline workers
- WorkTango — Best employee recognition platform for amplifying public praise and incentivizing key behaviors
With so many different employee recognition platforms available, figuring out which is the right one for you is hard. You know you want to recognize your employee’s achievements regularly to keep engagement high, but you need to figure out which tool is best. In this post, I’ll help you make your choice easier by sharing my insights on the best employee recognition platforms you can use to celebrate your top talent and keep them motivated.
What is an employee recognition platform?
Employee recognition platforms are tools that help organizations recognize their staff through public praise, perks, and rewards programs, creating a positive workplace culture that celebrates great work and success. If these are introduced with care into the workplace, you can boost employee recognition with mobile apps. These tools give employees a voice and the ability to praise each other through kudos that connect recognition with your company’s core values. Some also have a rewards catalog where employees can redeem points for gift cards, company swag, charitable donations, or other unique rewards.
Employee recognition platforms ultimately make employees feel more valued, making them more likely to stay with your company longer. They use automation to simplify the process of acknowledging employee contributions and key milestones, reducing administrative burdens on your staff to manually track achievements and dates. They also make it easier to showcase your workplace culture, build camaraderie between teams, and reward good work with perks.
You can read Kim Behnke’s full article here.
Risks in using employee recognition software
You can boost employee recognition with mobile apps, but you run several risks in doing so. It is tempting to ‘subcontract’ to mobile apps for recognizing employees. However, one of the key factors in employee recognition is the ‘people factor.’ Most workers want their recognition to be live and in person, not delivered via impersonal social media systems and gamification, etc.
In a Gallup workplace survey, employees were asked to recall who gave them their most meaningful and memorable recognition: “The data revealed the most memorable recognition comes most often from an employee’s manager (28%), followed by a high-level leader or CEO (24%), the manager’s manager (12%), a customer (10%) and peers (9%).” Around 17% of employees cited “other” as the source of their most memorable recognition, which presumably included software and apps, a comparatively low proportion.
A review conducted by Gartner in 2015 (“Technology Overview for Employee Recognition and Rewards Software” – access by subscription only) found the use of software systems including apps can be relevant to organizations of 500+ employees. The platforms “should be used to complement – not replace – the annual merit increase, incentive/bonus award and promotion management processes…” The Gartner report noted the drawbacks of using software systems. Be mindful of these:
- Employees may “game” the system, working in conjunction with peers in a quid pro quo fashion to drive up mutual point values and/or recognition, which undermines the philosophy for having the system.
- Leaderboards and badges can spur system utilization but may also encourage the wrong behaviors (such as too much focus on visibility attainment versus core job requirements).
- Recognition results can be at odds with the formal performance review. Employees and employers need to understand that social recognition and rewards are one perspective on performance and are not mutually exclusive. (For example, in a retail environment, the measured goal may be to serve as many customers as possible, but an employee may receive a lot of praise for spending more time with a customer to solve a problem. So the employee gets praise for doing the right thing, but it may run counter to official measures.)
- Recognition not based on a commonly understood benchmark or standard could lead to situations where the recognition becomes so frequent that it becomes meaningless and given for just “doing the job as expected,” rather than recognizing exceptional efforts or exceeding expectations.
- There could be privacy concerns when individuals are uncomfortable with public recognition due to, for example, fear of resentment from co-workers.
- For very “traditional” organizations, social recognition may appear alien if the organization is not culturally open; low engagement and program failure can result.
- If recognition events are broadcast on external social media (such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn), there are risks to confidential company information and personal privacy preferences. Additionally, organizations risk exposing top performers to recruiters outside the organization.
Gartner has published various more-recent articles, but access is by subscription only.
Not a suitable game plan
“Gamification” has become considered by some people as a form of recognition, but what most people call “gamification” is actually what experts call “pointsification” or “badgification” – the addition of things like leaderboards, badges and a competitive or acquisitive element into software. The key point is that there is no real substitute for direct human interaction in employee recognition. Employees understand that. Here are the responses from employees in the Globoforce “Spring 2014 Workforce Mood Tracker” survey:
Globoforce wrote in more detail about this in their article, “Majority of American Workers Say Thanks and Gamification Don’t Mix, According to Globoforce Survey.” Although the article was published in 2014, the principles are still relevant.
Business News Daily published an article in 2023 that gives further insights into the pros and cons of gamifying employee recognition: “Gamifying Your Workforce: How to Make Employee Engagement Fun.”
If you want to find out more on how and when to recognize employees for good work, you might like to buy my helpful ebook, Employee Recognition: The secret to great team performance, explains how to implement this fabulous activity in your team or within your whole organization.
Article updated in January 2024.