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Improve employee retention with unexpected moments of recognition

Apr 26, 2022

Written by: Stephanie Hanlon, Senior Account Director, Program Design
(View Author Bio)

Promising talent can be found inside your organization if you have the right data and a targeted approach to help employees see a positive future for themselves and the organization. Check out three ways to create a memorable recognition moment.


With an increasingly competitive and demanding talent market, employers are being challenged to look at the needs of existing employees more than ever before. Employee recognition aligned with values and behaviors as well as service milestones are now considered table stakes. Employers who want to retain talented employees need to identify other unique moments in the employee experience and create a memorable recognition moment around them.



Based on our annual New Rules of Engagement® research, one of the top predictors of both commitment and performance is employees being able to see a future for themselves and the organization. Here are a few ways to encourage your employees to envision their future with your company.


Early career engagement

Early career focus in the past has been on employee onboarding but now career pathing is getting its time in the limelight. Employers can start by looking at current intern, part-time and entry-level populations as targets for early goal setting. Once goals and a path are established, create a rewards and recognition structure around activities to keep them focused and motivated. It may take a year or more for an intern to become full-time so making sure they receive adequate coaching, recognition and rewards along the way will increase the likelihood they’ll stick around to see the finish line.

One retail organization had created a very specific plan for employees to move up in their career but saw few people engaging with it. They created visual dashboards that showed the employee how close they were to the next career path level and included links to learning and information that would help guide them on their journey. After sharing the visual dashboards through targeted email campaigns, they saw a significant increase in employees moving up to the next level.


Leadership development

That same review, upskilling and career pathing can happen with more tenured employees as well. By leveraging engagement and performance data, an organization can identify those employees who are high potential and begin defining a path to leadership.

One global company had key metrics they used to determine who was high potential at the organization. When linked with employee recognition data, the company discovered that those employees who received a HIPO rating one year and received low recognition (0-5 in a year) that same year were more likely not to receive the HIPO rating the following year. This allowed for a targeted employee recognition strategy for the identified HIPO groups to ensure consistency in performance.


Combatting burnout

Tenured employees in general deserve some extra recognition and attention. They’ve suffered alongside talent management with the Great Resignation, watching colleagues go and often having to take over their work and train replacements. The added stress of constant change can have a significant impact on their work and health and contribute to feeling burned out, even if they are still highly engaged in their work.

A large global healthcare organization realized burnout was a very real thing in their organization and took steps to acknowledge it and offer support. Their messaging strategy was around reminding their employees to take time away from work and was reinforced with a tangible reward of a fitness watch. It also encouraged them to take time to thank those who support them by providing a separate kit with everything they’d need for a cozy night in with loved ones.



Promising talent can be found inside the organization if companies have the right data and a targeted approach to ensuring employees see a positive future for themselves and the organization as a whole. Part of your employee retention strategy should include a clear visual path for upward mobility alongside rewards and recognition to promote engagement along the way.


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Stephanie Hanlon

Stephanie Hanlon

Senior Account Director, Program Design, BI WORLDWIDE

As Senior Account Director of Program Design at BI WORLDWIDE, Stephanie’s primary focus is to consult with clients on their overall engagement strategies and align internal BIW subject matter experts to design cutting-edge solutions to key business challenges. An expert in applying behavioral economics in program design, Stephanie works with BIW’s global clients to deliver measurable results and drive a culture of recognition within their organizations.