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Busting Social Recognition Myths

Nov 12, 2014

Written by: Tim Houlihan
(View Author Bio)

Even good HR directors can make big mistakes when choosing a social recognition product. Here's what to look for - and beware of - when you're making this important decision. 

3 myths about employee recognition 

Joy, the human resources manager at a 10,000-person tech-manufacturing company, was asked by her boss to look at a number of competing bids for a new social recognition system. After calling in several promising candidates, she decided to go with a supplier who touted their mobile apps and “crowdsourcing” capabilities. In fact, the salesperson told her, she’d eventually be able to use crowdsourcing as a way to completely replace performance reviews. Wow, thought Joy, my boss has got to love that, right? 

What went wrong for Joy

Within a few weeks of implementing the new system, Joy realized that things were not turning out the way she’d hoped. She heard lots of complaints about the need to visit app stores to download mobile versions of the system. Someone in IT complained, “This system wasn’t really designed for mobile, was it?” Employees showed up in her office, angry that they had no ability to choose whether or not their recognition was made public. When Joy reviewed crowdsourcing reports, she saw that the top-rated employee in her entire company was the friendly – and ineffective – new kid in the mailroom, the one who spent most of his day chatting and avoiding work.

Where did it all go wrong? Joy thought. I wanted a simple, up-to-date way to recognize and engage employees and I’ve gotten myself a clunky, rigid system that’s turning into a popularity contest. 

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Tim Houlihan

Tim Houlihan

Vice President
Reward Systems Group

For more than 25 years, Tim Houlihan has indulged his curiosities of human behavior in the workplace. He passionately pursues answers to questions such as “Why do some people work harder than others?” and “Why do some people set and achieve goals?” and acknowledges that behavioral economics holds excellent explanations for some of these mysteries. As the Vice President of Reward Systems at BIW, Tim is responsible for leading the development of innovative reward systems. He partners with academic colleagues from leading universities around the world and he is actively engaged with leaders in Fortune 1000 companies to develop solutions for the human side of business problems.