The Recognition and D&I Study

At Companies Where Recognition Incorporates Diversity & Inclusion, 3X as Many Employees are Highly Engaged

  • At companies where recognition incorporates D&I, 55% of employees are highly engaged, vs. just 17% of employees at companies where there’s no integration.
  • At companies where recognition incorporates D&I, 69% of employees say that D&I programs are effective at making them feel a sense of inclusion, vs. just 10% of employees at companies where there’s no integration.
  • Despite these benefits, just 17% of employees and 32% of HR leaders say their company’s recognition programs include a D&I component.

Toronto, Ontario—May 11, 2021 – Companies that integrate diversity and inclusion priorities and values within their recognition practices are more likely to be successful across a wide range of business outcomes, according to a new study by Achievers, and Workplace Intelligence, an HR research and advisory firm. The study of 2,000 U.S. employees and HR leaders found a strong connection between recognition and D&I, with companies that integrate these two programs benefitting from better financial performance, higher employee engagement, and more successful D&I and recognition efforts. The survey also revealed that despite these benefits, most companies aren’t integrating their recognition programs and their D&I initiatives.

Where There’s a Strong Culture of Recognition, There’s Also a Strong Commitment to Diversity & Inclusion

Employees and HR leaders were asked about their company’s commitment to D&I, including policies, practices, and accountability. Employees were also asked whether they feel a sense of inclusion and belonging at their organization. In companies where there’s frequent recognition and a strong culture of recognition, there’s a greater commitment to D&I and higher levels of inclusion.

  • Culture of Recognition and D&I: At companies where there’s a strong culture of recognition, 82% of employees and 89% of HR leaders say their company is committed to D&I and 87% of employees feel included. Where there’s a weak culture of recognition, just 39% of employees and 38% of HR leaders say there’s a commitment to D&I and only 43% of employees feel included.
  • Frequency of Recognition and D&I: Among employees who were recognized within the past week, 81% agree that their company is committed to D&I and 87% report a high level of inclusion. Among employees who say they are never recognized, just 38% say there is commitment to D&I and only 45% feel included.

Incorporating D&I into Recognition is Connected to Better Financial Performance and Higher Employee Engagement

Employees and HR leaders were asked whether their company incorporates D&I values and priorities into recognition, for example by recognizing the following: diverse employees and skillsets, welcoming and inclusive behaviors, taking an active part in promoting D&I, and recognizing others who support D&I. In companies where recognition incorporates D&I, employees and HR leaders report greater financial success and higher levels of employee engagement.

  • The Connection to Workplace Performance: At companies where D&I is integrated with recognition, 33% of employees and 43% of HR leaders say their company “outperformed” its industry peers over the past three years. At companies that do not integrate D&I with recognition, just 17% of employees and 23% of HR leaders agree that their company outperformed industry peers.
  • The Connection to Employee Engagement: At companies where D&I is integrated with recognition, 55% of employees say they’re highly engaged and 41% of HR leaders say they have a highly engaged workforce. At companies that do not incorporate D&I within recognition practices, just 17% of employees say they’re highly engaged and 0% of HR leaders say they have a highly engaged workforce.

Incorporating D&I into Recognition Makes Both Programs More Effective

Companies where D&I is integrated with recognition report better outcomes for both their recognition programs and their D&I efforts.

  • Increased Likelihood of Achieving D&I Goals: At companies where recognition incorporates D&I, 93% of HR leaders say their company is likely to achieve its 2021 diversity goals. At companies that do not integrate D&I and recognition, just 27% of HR leaders say they are likely to achieve their diversity goals.
  • Greater D&I Program Effectiveness: At companies where recognition incorporates D&I, 69% of employees say that D&I initiatives such as ERGs, learning courses, and mentoring programs are effective at making them feel a sense of inclusion. Where D&I is not integrated with recognition, just 10% of employees agree that D&I initiatives give them a sense of inclusion.
  • Higher Levels of Employee Inclusion: Among employees whose companies integrate D&I with recognition, 89% agree with statements indicating a high level of inclusion. At companies where recognition does not incorporate D&I, around half that number (46%) feel included.
  • Stronger Recognition Outcomes: Where D&I is integrated with recognition, 88% of employees say that being recognized makes them more productive, engaged, satisfied, creative and innovative; more likely to stay with their company and refer people to their company; improves their feelings of belonging, inclusion, and connection to their team; and boosts their overall well-being. At companies that do not connect D&I and recognition, just 54% of employees agree with these statements.

Despite the Benefits, Few Companies Incorporate D&I into their Recognition Programs

HR leaders and employees report surprisingly low adoption of recognition practices, metrics and goals tied to D&I.

  • The Big Picture: Just 17% of employees and 32% of HR leaders say their company has a recognition program that includes a D&I component.
  • Low Use of Recognition Metrics tied to D&I: Among HR leaders, only 38% say they use employee diversity as a success metric to evaluate their recognition programs, and just 32% measureinclusivity of recognition (e.g., number of diverse employees recognized).
  • Low Use of Goals Connecting Recognition and D&I: For 2021, just 37% of HR leaders say their organization has committed to recognizing the achievements of their diverse employees, 31% are committed to recognizing employees who support D&I, and only 17% plan to connect recognition programs to D&I outcomes.
  • Use of Recognition Practices that Incorporate D&I: On average, 67% of employees and 82% of HR leaders agree that their company’s recognition practices incorporate D&I values, priorities, and behaviors.

Supporting Quotes

“As we look to what the future holds for recognition and D&I, these survey results reinforce how critical it is that leaders in both areas work in lockstep as they strive to achieve their respective outcomes for the business. When recognition supports D&I, organizations will reap the benefits of a more engaged and productive workforce, where all employees feel that they belong.”

  • Dr. Natalie Baumgartner, Chief Workforce Scientist, Achievers Workforce Institute

“Our study reveals a positive correlation between a company’s culture of recognition and their commitment to Diversity & Inclusion. When organizations prioritize and integrate both, they benefit from higher employee engagement, better outcomes tied to both recognition and D&I, and greater financial success. The sooner companies incorporate D&I into their recognition practices, the better off their employees and businesses will be.”

  • Dan Schawbel, Managing Partner of Workplace Intelligence

Methodology
Research findings are based on a survey conducted by Savanta, Inc. between March 09 – March 22, 2021. For this survey, 2,000 US HR Leaders and employees from a range of sectors and geographies were asked general questions around employee recognition preferences and frequency, recognition obstacle and enablers, recognition metrics and outcomes, and around D&I baseline info, employee inclusion, employee engagement, and workplace culture. The study targeted full-time working HR leaders and employees who are 18+ years of age and living in the U.S. Respondents were invited to take part via email and were provided with a small monetary incentive for doing so. All panelists have passed a double opt-in process and completed on average 300 profiling data points prior to taking part in surveys. Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation.

About Workplace Intelligence
Workplace Intelligence, LLC is an HR research and advisory firm helping leaders adapt to trends, drive performance, and prepare for the future. Our mission is to create more intelligent workplaces using data-based insights. For more information go to our website and our LinkedIn profile.

About Achievers

Achievers’ employee voice and recognition solutions bring your organization’s values and strategy to life by activating employee participation and accelerating a culture of performance. Achievers leverages the science behind behavior change, so your people and your organization can experience sustainable, data-driven business results. Visit us at www.achievers.com.

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