How come young employees are hardly ever recognised?

Thursday February 13 2020

Q: At the end of this month, our company heads will be issuing awards to employees who have excelled in their roles in the last one year. For the three years I've worked here, I've observed that such awards are always given to old employees. Nobody recognises the young, energetic, innovative and dedicated people like me. Is this fair? Is there anything I can do about it?

While many organisations have put in place creative schemes to reward and motivate employees, the manner in which these schemes are communicated and applied remains a key concern. I have heard of situations like yours where a scheme meant to motivate and enhance engagement ends up creating divisions within the company. While one-size-fits-all kind of schemes hardly exist, employers have to think out of the box if they are to meet needs of different generations at the modern workplace. A long service recognition may work for most baby boomers or Gen Y’s, but it may fail to motivate millennials and Gen Z’s who have no intentions of staying at the same place for long.

Experience has taught me that the way an idea is communicated to an audience is critical if they are to adopt it. However, some employees’ attitudes need to change. I am dismayed that you have concluded that without fresh, energetic, innovative and dedicated employees like yourself, your organisation cannot succeed. Have you considered how the organisation would fare without the experienced, dedicated, trusted and productive oldies?

Instead of feeling left out, share your concerns and follow up with your line managers to ensure they are addressed. You could encourage your employer to carry out a quick survey where staff are invited to give suggestions on how the scheme can be made more inclusive. You could suggest that they introduce various recognitions awards ranging from Rising Star Best Innovations Award, Most Enthusiastic Newcomer, Nerd Award for the keen problem solver, and Swag Award for that employee who smartly navigates bureaucracy and gets things done. The list is endless, but only if you have an employer who is innovative and receptive to fresh ideas.

Excellence awards need not be based on length of service. Imagine if an incompetent employee is rewarded for loyalty, or the person known for undercutting others is recognised, or the well known office gossiper is recognised for being a good team player? Once the criteria for choosing those who should be recognised is clear, employees should be allowed to nominate deserving colleagues to enhance inclusivity.

Mwikali Muthiani - Managing Partner, MillennialHR (@MwikaliN; [email protected])