Employee Engagement Employee Recognition

7 Common employee problems you can solve with employee recognition

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Hello there, friend. If you’ve made your way to this article on common employee problems, odds are you’re feeling somewhat overwhelmed by your responsibilities to your workforce at the moment.

Come on, pull up a chair, wrap your hands around a metaphorical cup of warm, comforting tea, and let’s take a look at the root causes of the issues you’re dealing with. 

The first big mental hurdle to overcome at this point is the notion that employees themselves are problems. The people who populate your company are not trying to be impossible. No-one sets out to become a ‘problem employee’, just like no kid actively seeks out the label ‘problem kid’ at school. It’s all a confluence of events that leads to a big mess of urgh.

As an HR practitioner, director or operations professional, you are in a position to untangle the issue and address the core of it. Sure, you may ultimately find that a given person is simply not well-suited to their position and that they probably need to consider a change in career. But before you get to that point, there are ways and means of helping them to see the light and grow into a space of employment pride. 

Check out our YouTube channel for awesome videos on everything from the science of employee recognition to creating an internal communications strategy for enhanced engagement.

At bountiXP, we’re all about performance improvement and  behaviour change. We always recommend starting with employee recognition as a means to address common employee problems. Before you go ‘wait, hold up, are you asking me to reward bad behaviour’, woah, hold up. Hear us out. It’s actually about rewarding the kind of behaviour you want to see, and have it trickle down from there. 


Here are 7 common employee problems that can be diffused in this way: 

1. Lack of motivation 

Firing up an unmotivated employee can feel like jump-starting a ‘92 Citi Golf. We understand, it’s incredibly frustrating. Here’s the thing - engagement drives performance, and performance delivers results. 

Studies show that recognised employees feel highly motivated to contribute to their organisation’s success. When people are engaged and motivated, they care more. It shows in the work they produce. And in the relationships they foster with colleagues, customers and clients.

2. Low levels of productivity

In the current economic climate,  almost every company is looking to raise productivity, i.e. getting more output from employees for the same investment. The key to getting a greater return from people is to engage and motivate them more effectively. And while there are many employee recognition and engagement solutions to choose from, it’s important to realise that not all are created equal

The ability to track the effectiveness of recognition and engagement efforts helps organisations better align with business objectives and performance. In a recent study, 43% of best-in-class companies regularly analyse and adjust their recognition and engagement metrics, compared to 18% of all others. 

Gallup also found that companies in the top quartile of employee engagement perform significantly better across key measures of business success, including 21% higher productivity and 22% higher profitability.

READ MORE: Combat low productivity with the 5 ingredients to employee engagement

3. Employee attrition

If your company bears the brunt of high levels of employee turnover, it’s important to take a look at how your people are treated at work. A lack of recognition has the potential to cause unwanted churn in even the most stable companies. Check out these statistics. By taking the time to recognise good work, you lay the groundwork for increased retention rates from the ground up. 

READ MORE: 4 Strategies to avoid employee churn 

4. Negativity and toxic competition

When employee recognition opportunities are few and far between, it can often lead to general negativity and toxic competition as employees try to one up one another to gain a moment in the spotlight. Obviously, not ideal. On the other hand, if recognition is a part of the everyday fabric of your culture, there is no need to hamstring your co-workers because everyone gets their time to shine. 

5. Not willing to collaborate

If your team struggles to collaborate, the likely problem is that they don’t want to share credit. The true power of recognition is that it circumvents issues like these by acting as the social glue of an organisation. This is because recognition propagates pro-social behaviours, such as cooperation, collaboration and cohesion, all of which drive performance, which delivers results. 

6. Misalignment with company values

If your employees have trouble aligning with your company values, your recognition platform can help to focus people’s productivity by linking employees’ actions with organisational goals and values. 

At bountiXP, we call it dual-purpose recognition. Each message of recognition created on our SaaS-based employee engagement platform requires the employee to link it with a relevant strategic business goal or organisational value. 

These messages of recognition and appreciation for a job well done appear on the platform’s newsfeed, drawing people’s attention to the actions and behaviours that support the organisation’s strategy. In short - strategy in action. 

Our purposeful recognition application fosters the practice of day-to-day social recognition and more formal performance-based recognition. Combining the power of goal-based and values-based recognition, the platform aligns strategy and culture for improved performance. Sign up for a FREE trial here to see it in action. 

7. Not even being on payroll

Okay, so this is less of an employee problem, and more of a recruitment issue. However, if your company struggles to recruit and onboard top talent, odds are you need to take a good look at your employer brand. 

Companies that are known to recognise and reward their employees have a far better shot at landing big fish, and keeping them around. This includes the likes of AvBob, CSIR, AECI, DHL, Dimension Data, TransUnion Africa, Sanlam, Mercedes Benz Africa and Microsoft SA - all of which were named top employers by the Top Employer Institute in 2021

There you have it - seven common employee problems that can be solved with a healthy dose of employee recognition. Good stuff, no? Check back soon for more positive vibes and insights into how you can pave the way for a happily engaged workforce. 

In the meantime, you might want to visit our YouTube channel. It’s the place where we keep all of our quick, to-the-point videos that tackle HR topics like the science of recognition, and how you can train your managers to promote a culture of recognition in your company. 

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