Human Resources: enabling Line Managers to deliver consistent employee recognition

October 5th, 2014
Ann Lyons by Ann Lyons


At a recent CIPD event Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of CIPD, gave an insightful presentation on the future of Human Resources. He discussed the changing profile of the workforce and I was particularly interested in his observations of ‘Gen Y ’and how they continuously ask …’Why?’. Nor are they afraid to tell you what they really think. It struck me that in trying to accommodate a demanding and expectant workforce, Human Resources could lose focus on their role in the recognition of employees.


Peter also questioned our ‘People Management’ practices. Gen ‘Y’ expects to be recognised for their work. He suggested that Line Managers should be trained and measured on their soft skills in order to improve employee engagement. Line Managers are largely measured by their ability to complete projects – their ‘People Management’ abilities are often overlooked. Peter emphasised the opportunity of HR as the ‘enabler’ in this context.


As we know, the Line Manager is on the front line delivering results for the organisation. While they may wish to recognise their team, they may not have the training or the means to deliver timely, suitable recognition. In her book, Make Their Day: Employee Recognition that Works, Cindy Ventrice suggests that employees want 50% of recognition from their manager/supervisor; 30% from their peers; and, 20% from their organisation. This places the manager or supervisor in the prime position to give ‘real’ employee recognition. They represent the local ‘face’ of an organisation, especially when it is a large, multi-national organisation.


Human Resources have an important role as the enabler of employee recognition. While they are largely responsible for organising employee awards and events, HR should not be entirely responsible for delivering recognition. They can enable Line Managers to deliver consistent employee recognition by ensuring they have adequate training and a ‘recognition toolkit’. This encourages HR to continually monitor and improve their company’s recognition strategy.


How can Human Resources enable employee recognition?

How can members of HR respond to and enable good quality employee recognition? Here are five suggestions:


  • HR can demonstrate good recognition practices and emphasise the reasons for giving recognition.

  • Ensure that Line Managers are involved at some stage in the recognition process. HR can supply a recognition toolkit including Thank You cards, Certificates of Appreciation or awards to be presented to employees.

  • Making a presentation to an employee can be an awkward moment for the Line Manager or for the recipient. Human Resources can provide guidelines and training on giving genuine and sensitive recognition.

  • Human Resources can communicate the agreed criteria for awarding recognition to employees and provide assistance to Line Managers when they are unsure if something merits an award.

  • HR can utilise newsletters and internal communications to further leverage employee recognition initiatives.


Contact Gift Innovations: to help you to reflect upon and revise your recognition practices.

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