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4 Ways to Shift from Employee Recognition to Employee Experience

By Jonathan McClellan | August 14, 2018 | Blog Posts | Engage Employees

Employee recognition is in the midst of a shift.

Companies are changing their focus from managing employee engagement to placing more emphasis on creating a powerful employee experience. This emphasis shifts the focus from adhering to a point-in-time measurement of engagement levels to improving the operational procedures, workflows and environments that allow employees to thrive.

As a leading example, IBM has modeled this definition into the “3 Spheres of Employee Experience.”

  • The Physical Sphere: The experience employees have interacting within their physical environment.
  • The Work Sphere: The experience employees have interacting within their assigned job duties.
  • The Social Sphere: The experience employees have with one another.

Diving into the 3 Spheres of Employee Experience: Relationships Provide the Bedrock

The 3 spheres of employee experience (EX).

As you might imagine, the Physical Sphere and the Work Sphere are generally unique to each company. No two companies share the same physical footprint or generate the same work. That does not diminish the importance of the Physical or Work Spheres, of course, but since the employee is at the epicenter of the experiential design, success is often contingent on the Social Sphere, or how well people interact and engage with one another.

The need for (and reliance upon) strong working relationships is universal to all companies. In their absence, companies tend to suffer from a lack of trust and an increase in unnecessary drama and distractions. The team brand and bond rapidly erodes, if it were ever present in the first place, and the lack of accountability undermines the values of the leaders and company. Organizations that put a high degree of importance and effort into building strong relationships are far better equipped to overcome these pitfalls and attract, retain and develop top-level talent.

Relationships are Built One Connection at a Time

As the old adage goes: Relationships are built, not bought.

Relationships develop over a series of positive connections between employees and the company as well as its leaders and coworkers. These relationships are strengthened with repetition and time. Collectively, these connections create a more emotionally engaged workforce—helping employees feel more connected, respected and appreciated. In turn, they feel a stronger sense of loyalty for the company and for each other. Plus, they will perceive psychological value in their daily work.

4 Relationship Opportunities for Employee Experience

4 relationships for employee experience.

There are four areas of opportunity for building and strengthening relationships with employees:

  1. Their relationship with the company
  2. Their relationship with senior leaders
  3. Their relationship with their manager
  4. Their relationship with their coworkers

Below are specific examples of how you can foster these relationships:

  1. Celebrate and acknowledge meaningful milestones.

Award designs like this cheery orange on cream with an enthusiastic Well Done allows you to recognize them in real time.

Shine a spotlight on the events that highlight important achievements. Celebrating extraordinary company performance, product anniversaries and personal work milestones are just a few examples that can help exemplify the value of collaboration and camaraderie within your company. Company-wide connections remind all employees that together, they can accomplish more. Celebrations unite people with concrete stories that inspire and motivate both current and future generations of workers.

  1. Help executives, leaders and department heads connect with all employees.

Find opportunities to convey timely, targeted messages that motivate, reinforce and align people with your company’s purpose and vision. Creating positive, unexpected connections between senior leaders and front-line employees—especially during times of organizational transition or change—will help increase trust and confidence by strengthening existing relationships and laying the foundation for new ones.

  1. Provide managers with tools to deliver positive feedback.

Hallmark Business Connections redemption portal.

Every employee has something they need to hear. They want to know they are progressing, adding value and making a difference. Recognition, when done right, is the most powerful form of feedback we can give another employee. Provide managers with on-the-spot tools and resources to tailor and deliver the right message to the right person at the right time. Managers will not let the opportunity to align, build and strengthen relationships with their employees go to waste.

  1. Create programs or processes for employees to recognize each other.


Feeling like a valued, contributing member of the group strengthens loyalty, commitment and collaboration. Knowing that managers cannot be everywhere at once, equip employees with the means to recognize the contributions of others to help build a culture of appreciation and respect for the people and work that span functional areas. Employees will become more in tune with what success looks like and will be more willing to help others achieve their greatness.

At Hallmark, we believe that strong, positive working relationships create a more engaging, focused and productive workplace.

Hallmark has been a trusted and admired brand for connecting with family and friends in your personal lives. At Hallmark Business Connections, we bring that same experience and emotional impact to the workplace. A Hallmark connection doesn’t work because it changes the way people think; it works because it changes the way people feel. Personal expression is the cornerstone of emotional engagement, and emotionally engaged employees invest more of themselves into your business, your employees and your customers.

Interested in learning more and shifting your focus to employee experience? Contact us today.

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