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Social Contagion: How To Make Recognition Go Viral

Apr 20, 2016

Written by: Mark Hirschfeld
(View Author Bio)

Want to make employee recognition more contagious? Make it personal.

Overview

Are there practices that create a contagion effect, where the act of recognizing an employee makes the receiver of the recognition more likely to then recognize someone else? To explore this question, we studied the recognition program of a retail company with approximately 12,000 employees.

The jury is in – recognizing employees when they make contributions is a key factor in helping them become happier and more productive. 

According to our research into the New Rules of Engagement®, employees who feel their successes have been recognized work harder and are more creative. For example, 87% of employees who have received incredible recognition say their employer brings out their best ideas. Only 46% of those who have not received incredible recognition say the same. 95% of employees who have received incredible recognition say they are willing to work especially hard for their organization’s customers versus 77% of those who have not received recognition.

If recognition is so important, what can we do to increase this behavior at work? One strategy may be to take advantage of a concept with substantial academic research behind it called “social contagion.” It’s defined by the Oxford dictionary as “the spread of ideas, attitudes or behavior patterns in a group through imitation and conformity.”

Just like a virus or infection, attitudes or behaviors can be “contagious.” There have been a number of fascinating studies about this effect. For example, we now know that smoking and obesity are strongly related to our social network, deemed by researchers as fitting the pattern of social contagion.

But what about recognition – are there practices that create a contagion effect, where the act of recognizing an employee makes the receiver of the recognition more likely to then recognize someone else?

Make your recognition program go viral.  Continue reading.

Discover how to make recognition go viral.

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