How HRIS and Social Recognition Improve Employee Engagement

employee engagement

In a disturbing study, Gallup Research found only 13% of employees worldwide feel engaged in
their work. Gallup’s survey de jour takes on special meaning for companies utilizing HRIS technology. If you want to direct employees away from fatigue towards engagement, you may
want to consider ways to build a culture of engagement through Social Recognition – even in an
HRIS world.

The Survey Results

If you haven’t read about the Gallup results, the numbers are staggering. Fully 87% of workers worldwide do not feel engaged in their labor. If you focus on workers in the United States and Canada, 29% feel engaged, and employees in Australia/New Zealand and Latin America follow.
Even employees in European industrial economies report only 11% engagement.

Derek Irvine (Vice President of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce) offered more
numbers in a 2014 presentation before SHRM’s Annual Conference. He is convinced that even
a 15% increase in employee engagement will produce a 2% increase in profit margins.

Engagement drives the most important corporate metrics:

  • 21% higher productivity
  • 22% higher profitability
  • 25% lower employee turnover
  • 37% lower absenteeism
  • 45% reduction in workplace injuries.

When asked, 78% of workers said that they would work harder if they felt their efforts were recognized. Clearly, the worker links recognition with engagement.

Legacy Recognition

Employees have traditionally handled recognition the same way. According to Derek Irvine, legacy recognition follows a rather consistent pattern:

  • Relatively few members of leadership control recognition systems – only the HR Manager and the employee’s immediate Supervisor/Manager.
  • Supervisor/Managers reward personally observed events that occurred just prior to the acknowledgement.
  • Recognition tends to remain inside the department or the functional silo. The honor is made and stays local.
  • Because it is local and immediate, praise tends to be short-lived. The handshake or pat on the back is appreciated, but the recognition is momentary.
  • Management awards completion of tasks, but it does not link the achievement to larger issues and goals.

Employee and employer would benefit from an award system that is shared publicly and is calibrated according to corporate values and goals.

Social Recognition

“Happiness is really just about four things: perceived control, perceived progress, connectedness (number and depth of our relationships), and vision/meaning (being part of something bigger than yourself.” Tony Hseih, CEO of Zappos, Inc.

Irvine recommends something he calls Social Recognition.

  • This is an employee program - the outcome of a broad and deep proactive collaboration between employees and employer. Involvement integrates strategy, goals, and means.
  • Participation is viral in the contemporary social media sense that spreads the notice of award immediately and universally.
  • Social involvement puts everyone on alert for awards and real time recognition. It engages employees in the program, and their engagement promotes and sustains the effects.
  • It makes the work and the appreciation a community experience. Success begets success, and the work benefits when employer and employee “like” performance.

What’s Different about Social Recognition?

You are asked to picture a stand-up “tailgate” meeting where staff members gather in a circle. Individual members describe something they have done to make them feel proud of their work. As manager, you thank the employee and encourage other staff to applaud the achievement. Everyone praises, and everyone leaves encouraged.

HRIS will boost Social Recognition by using technology to broaden that effect. HRIS enables this communication, offers interactivity, and reconfigures success:

  • HRIS in its anonymity contributes to trust. The system has no bias or personal interest. As such, it facilitates participation and feedback. Because it does not “talk back,” it creates a no fear climate.
  • HRIS reinvents the performance assessment process by allowing a mutual participation by manager and workers. They collaborate in completing the forms. More important, it can be completed in real time, so achievements are not forgotten or overlooked.
  • HRIS easily calendars employment and performance anniversaries. It will prompt supervisor and co-worked to congratulate teammates on length of service.
  • HRIS can communicate core corporate values and illustrate connection between specific achievements to broader goals.

The public shared recognition promotes engagement with its real time, real world recognition at the most psychologically ripe moment. Social recognition, thereby, rewards, reinvigorates, and reinforces performance.

Carolyn Sokol is president of and, as well as a contributing author for She is a member of SHRM and writes on current business issues.