March 25, 2024

As Gen Z takes over the job market, the culture of recognition is becoming a necessity

The era of instant gratification


Research shows that employee sentiment in Lithuania is declining, and competitive salaries no longer guarantee loyalty. Employers are looking for creative solutions and are turning to non-financial motivational measures. One of these is employee recognition programs to encourage employee engagement and loyalty, which aim to notice, reward and recognize employees' behaviour, efforts or performance that exceeds expectations and is in line with company values.


Jurgita Lemešiūtė, Managing Partner of "People Link", says that more and more organizations in Lithuania are realizing that recognition programs are necessary and are looking for ways to do it systematically. "The need is obvious because 2024 is a turning point year, when Generation Z starts to dominate the labour market, overtaking Generation X. And this younger generation is particularly demanding of feedback, recognition and perception of the value of work; they no longer see work as just a source of income."


Vidmantas Šiugždinis, CEO of "MELP" is convinced that the need for employee recognition tools will grow: "First of all, the physical distance caused by hybrid work leads to an emotional distance, so gratitude serves as a way to stay connected. Secondly, employees want to be recognized here and now, not at an annual appraisal or Christmas event - young people especially need immediate feedback. Ironically, by the time you are ready to say thank you, the employee may have already quit for lack of attention."

Monika Milė, Head of People and Culture Department at "IKI Lietuva"


Monika Milė, Head of People and Culture Department at "IKI Lietuva", agrees that recognition is a factor that boosts employee satisfaction, engagement and motivation: "We are a large organization working in a highly dynamic and challenging retail sector, so employee recognition becomes a tool not only to thank colleagues for their work and projects but also to pause and reflect, to look back at how we are doing as a company and team. We implement several recognition initiatives in all departments of the company, recognize the most valuable colleagues, celebrate successful projects, and reward the fastest cashiers or those who have made the most progress in customer service".

Jurgita Lemešiūtė, Managing Partner of "People Link"

J. Lemešiūtė points out that recognition programs increase the sense of belonging to the organization and help to build good relationships, which is why the organization's support for the managers is very important in this area. According to her, if they are provided with convenient recognition and evaluation tools, it is easier for the managers to keep their teams united and motivated. "Expectations for the managers are only increasing: they become a mum, a dad, a comforter, a psychologist. In an era of instant gratification, it would be difficult to be able to thank, appreciate and encourage promptly in the absence of handy tools," notes J. Lemešiūtė.


Recognition translates into tangible benefits for employees


The recognition program at "Ignitis Group" is now in its third year. Renata Augustaitienė, Head of the Group's People and Culture function, points out that its success is based on several factors: it is important that the recognition is formal and public, and that it is convenient and easy to accomplish. "It's one thing to give praise and recognition in an individual conversation with an employee, but it's quite another when you give it in public and it's visible to everyone in the company. Such public recognition is much more important", says R. Augustaitienė.


"People can publicly thank each other and award points, which are then redeemed for prizes: our own Ignitis branded items or items from our suppliers' e-shop, gift vouchers, and much-appreciated benefits such as a free day or a parking space in the underground car park. We aim to turn praise into concrete value for the employee," says the Head of the People and Culture function at "Ignitis Group". Employees also receive points for their participation in company programs or activities: the group promotes values ambassadors and wellbeing mentors, who give lectures, mentor colleagues, and recognize volunteering activities.

Renata Augustaitienė, Head of the eople and Culture function at "Ignitis Group"


V. Šiugždinis notes that organizations usually award acknowledgements - known as kudos - based on their values or the behaviour they want to encourage, for example, for teamwork or volunteering, or for achieving good results. Typically, companies choose between 3 and 5 categories of behaviors to reward, and in some cases, managers are given a separate opportunity to incentivize their teams for specific activities or goals.


"In the MELP app, customers get to decide what their kudos are called - points, "thank you", stars, etc. Digital tools allow you to create authentic thank-you notes and styles, and to set different values for thank-you notes to reflect the importance of individual employees' actions to the organization. "We see that the most popular way of expressing gratitude is to associate it with a material value: companies give out mugs, drinks, blouses and money such as days off, lunch with the manager, a scooter, a bicycle or just a gift voucher," says V. Šiugždinis


Automation and next-generation tools make the process easier


Having automated employee recognition process, we notice that companies are digitising their internal reward systems - such as thank-you boards - because modern tools make it easy and quick to say thank you, are visible to a wider audience, and bring together the different incentives under one roof.


According to V. Šiugždinis, in larger organizations without automation, it is very difficult to communicate appreciation, because managers in large teams simply do not have the time to give a quick "pat on the back" and praise all those who are doing a good job - decentralization is a great solution, giving this opportunity to each colleague. R. Augustaitienė points out that the use of the recognition program in her organization has increased from 7% to 44% since they switched to a user-friendly technology - a mobile app: "People won't use an innovation if it's not user-friendly and simple. Such technological solutions not only ensure ease of use but also a wide range of prizes available in real-time.”


"It is impossible today without technological tools. We plan to launch a company-wide recognition program, which we will do through the MELP app. We want to give employees a platform to thank their colleagues for their values-based behaviour, to allow managers to thank their subordinates and to thank them for their involvement in company initiatives", says Monika Milė.

V. Šiugždinis says that recognition is not alien to smaller companies in the world: "Our practice shows that recognition programs, employee bonuses and other motivational incentives are successfully implemented by organizations of all sizes. It's more a matter of company culture and attitude towards employees- when you give trust and responsibility to your team, people are more willing to engage in gamified processes and become more attached. At the same time, advanced technological solutions not only save time for the HR department but also create an employer's differentiation in the labour market."