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Making Recognition a Natural Part of Every Day at General Motors

Type: Case Studies
Topic: Employee Communication
By Sharon Morton
28 December 2018

In 2016, GM’s employee engagement survey showed that only 59 percent of employees responded positively to this statement: I receive appropriate recognition (beyond my pay and benefits) for my contributions and accomplishments. This response was among the lowest for any question in the survey.

Inconsistent recognition practices did not support key GM business goals. Research shared with GM managers during the recognition program launch included these facts:

  • Engagement: 71 percent of highly engaged employees work in organizations in which their peers are recognized
    monthly or more frequently.
  • Retention: Companies with recognition programs targeted at improving employee engagement experience 31
    percent lower voluntary employee turnover.
  • Business results: Companies with high-performing recognition programs are 12 times more likely to have strong
    business outcomes.

There was no consistent global approach to recognition. Because of the multiple recognition programs in place across the
company there was a lack of visibility, measurement, monitoring, budget control and appropriate governance. Leaders of
global teams could not recognize team members located in various countries in a consistent way.

Senior leadership identified recognition as a key enabler of cultural change and employee engagement. CEO and
Chairman Mary Barra and her leadership team had just identified seven behaviors that they felt were necessary to support a
culture for the business to be successful in the future. Recognizing these behaviors would be important in driving this change.

There was clear direction from leadership to quickly develop and launch the new recognition program with a high activation
rate right from the start.

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Sharon Morton

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