- Washington-based Vesta Hospitality recognizes employees' outstanding performance with a year of free housing. The company said in a statement last week that it pays the rent or mortgage of an employee randomly selected from a pool of "Associate of the Month" winners at each Vesta Hospitality-managed property.
- Twelve Vesta properties submitted 95 names in February 2019, and an employee from Portland, Oregon, was chosen as the winner. Only employees, not managers, are eligible for the program, which first began in 2012, the company said. Employees must remain in good standing while receiving payments, which run from April to March of the following year, according to Vesta.
- "I have been in every role in hospitality, from dishwasher to front desk manager; I know firsthand that service is at the heart of hospitality, and that starts with our team," Rick Takach, Vesta's president and CEO, said in a statement. "Our associates are trustworthy, professional and honest, and the 'Work Hard…Live Free!' program is an effort to show our gratitude and reward their dedication."
Companies focus on pay and benefits to motivate their workforce, but employees have also said they want to be recognized for a job well done, either formally or informally. However, employers aren't always convinced that they should reward workers for their performance. A 2019 WorldatWork survey found that, though "deeply embedded" recognition programs — programs that are universally used company-wide with strong manager engagement — increased to 17% in 2019 from 10% in 2015, the number of companies with no recognition programs also increased to 19% from 12% during the same time period.
The employee-driven labor market has ratcheted up the competition for talent, which means employers might have to come up with innovative recognition programs, among others, to compete successfully. The payoff can be higher retention and engagement, experts previously told HR Dive.
Recognition programs are also among the least costly of employer-sponsored programs. According to a 2016 study by the Society for Human Resource Management and Globoforce, recognition can cost as little as 1% of an employer's payroll. But executives may still view recognition as a cost, i.e. as a "nice to have" element, rather than an investment, according to the same study.
One expert previously told HR Dive that employers should not take a "check-the-box" approach to recognition programs, nor should they select employees based on favoritism rather than merit. Employers can, however, create a culture of recognition by inviting leadership to live out the performance standards expected of every worker — and rewarding employees who model those shared values — among other strategies.
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated which type of recognition programs are increasing in popularity.