A guide to help organizations adapt to the massive
culture shift in today’s workforce.

The Workforce Has Changed

  • Each day, 10,000 Baby Boomers retire and are replaced by Millennials and Gen Z employees.
  • This new workforce has caused a massive culture shift, so many companies are focused on elevating their communication and culture.
  • Leaders now understand that today’s employees want to feel valued & acknowledged more often . . . that’s a good thing!
  • Leaders are challenging managers to elevate employee engagement levels across the enterprise, building trust and improving morale.

Companies Must Stay Ahead of the Culture Shift

To attract, engage, and retain the best employees in today’s environment, it’s extremely important for organizations to understand what they value. The new workforce is looking for more than just a paycheck and that is an environment where they feel valued. Having a company culture that aligns with their values is critical. This is not something that you can fake, it must be genuine and driven from senior leadership. Your culture must be reinforced daily through a set of core values that shape the way you do business.

Recognizing and showing appreciation to your employees will only make your organization a better environment to work in, and it will enable it to grow. As seen below; formal, planned, and effective employee recognition processes benefit the organization in the following ways:

  • Increases the likelihood that a company’s first candidate choice will accept the offer by 54%
  • 46% of employees are highly engaged versus just 33% of employees at companies who have no formal recognition program
  • More leadership roles (45% versus 29%) at an organization are filled by internal candidates who have a formal recognition program

Anyone who doesn’t feel valued or appreciated will likely seek other opportunities because as the saying goes “the grass is greener”. By investing in your company culture, you become more attractive to all generations in the workforce, but it has to be genuine, consistent and believable to work well.

Strategy to Create a High-Performance Culture

Much of the literature today on building a strong corporate culture is centered around the importance of creating a workplace in which each employee feels connected, empowered, positively engaged at work, and ultimately contributing to the forward momentum of the organization.

Recognition is a powerful tool that connects employees to an organization, drives engagement and impacts culture. It provides a meaningful way to reinforce core values and behaviors, to recognize great work and outstanding performance, to reward results and celebrate success.

Recognition (or lack of it) creates emotion. Appreciation and gratitude are two very important emotions in business, but they don’t come easy. Sincere appreciation and genuine gratitude convey a vibration that will attract more of the same. Workplace recognition motivates, provides a sense of accomplishment and makes employees feel valued for their work. Recognition not only boosts individual employee engagement, but it also has been found to increase productivity and loyalty to the company, leading to higher retention.

Beyond communicating appreciation and providing motivation to the recognized employee, the act of recognition also sends messages to others about what success looks like. In this way, recognition is both a tool for personal reward and an opportunity to reinforce the desired culture of the organization to other employees.  When done right, it becomes and habit that grows over time.

Managers & The Engagement Process

The core element for an environment of successful and sustained recognition is the role of managers and their awareness, ability, and commitment to using recognition on an ongoing basis. Employee recognition will be only as effective as those managers who incorporate it. Management training is key to driving successful recognition efforts within a company and the optimal way to start your process of creating a company-wide culture of recognition.

Highly engaged organizations hold their managers accountable – not just for their team’s measured engagement level, but also for how it relates to their team’s overall performance. They ensure that managers are engaging employees from the first minute of their first day and are enthusiastic and believable in doing it.

To facilitate this, it is important to provide managers with the training and tools to communicate with their employees daily. One way to do this is through a strategic reward and recognition program designed to maximize manager to employee touchpoints. Having a platform in place for managers to easily acknowledge employee contributions will further strengthen that important relationship. Dashboards and analysis tools will provide leaders line-of-sight to ensure managers are adopting your recognition culture and engaging their teams.

Utilizing a system will help provide managers with…

  • Training – The “What to Do” and “Why to Do It”
  • Tools to make recognitions quick and easy
  • A template or guide to help them recognize the “right” behaviors
  • Tracking to ensure their entire team is engaged
  • Better utilization of the dollars invested on employee recognition
  • Establishing equity for why employees are recognized
  • Complying with tax laws and regulations

Science / Studies – The Impact of Recognition

  • Drive for dopamine is biologically preordained and a very real human need
  • Dopamine stimulates parts of the brain that process rewards and creates positive emotions
  • Recognition for good work releases dopamine & creates feelings of pride and pleasure
  • Hardwires the knowledge that was associated with the dopamine “hit”


Companies utilizing a Rewards and Recognition Program realize:

  • 2% increase in operating income
  • 15% increase in employee engagement
  • Customer satisfaction and engagement is 3.4 times more financially effective
  • 60% increase in engagement can come from recognizing employee performance

Towers Watson


Companies scoring in the top 20% for building a recognition rich culture achieved a 31% lower voluntary turnover rate

Bersin & Associates


Employee and Manager Relationship

  • 53% of employees rated their manager relationship as very important to their job satisfaction.
  • In addition, nearly one-half (49%) of employees indicated that their immediate supervisor’s respect for their ideas was very important to their job satisfaction.
  • Respectful Treatment and Appreciation for Ideas
  • Recognition of Employee Job Performance
  • Communicate and Map Career Advancement Opportunities

*SHRM (2016) *Revitalizing a Changing Workforce


Research by the Aberdeen Group found that “60% of Best-in-Class organizations stated that employee recognition is extremely valuable in driving individual performance” (Driving a Culture of Employee Recognition, 2013). In addition, “. . . in organizations where recognition occurs, employee engagement, productivity and customer service are about 14 percent better than in those where recognition does not occur” (Bersin & Associates, 2012).


  • The workforce is changing. Organizations must change with it.
  • Today’s workforce wants to feel valued and desires more frequent acknowledgements . . . this is a good thing and a great opportunity.
  • A strategy around increasing recognition touchpoints will help create a high-performance recognition culture.
  • Many companies have a disjointed approach to recognition, employee engagement and performance management. An integrated approach including all employee touchpoints can provide better value, more consistent utilization and significantly impact the bottom line.
  • Engagement begins with leadership, but ultimately is driven by managers. Today’s younger employees look at their job more like investors than workers, so the believability and integrity of their managers is how they view the character of the entire organization.
  • Studies conclude a strong recognition culture will drive the success of an organization, boosting performance, productivity, profits, and loyalty.

John Schaefer – Regional Director 
(888)646-6670 toll free         (623)640-3544 cell