Trying to develop new skills or aspects of culture in an organization is challenging. Here’s a creative way to motivate and reward your employees: badging. Read on to see how badging is helpful and a few examples of how to motivate your employees with it.

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What Is Badging?

Reaching a goal, being rewarded, and displaying your achievement publically is powerful motivation for learning; think of Girl Scouts’ and Boy Scouts’ badge-laden vests and sashes. That age-old psychology is being updated and used in companies.

Think of badging as a digital trophy case of an employee’s achievements, skills, or credentials earned within your organization. It’s a way to showcase their knowledge on a specific issue with verifiable information and evidence that they did, in fact, complete the necessary items or obtain the desired knowledge to achieve the badge. Badging is a digital way to build a culture that recognizes your employees and rewards them accordingly.

We’ll examine the details of a badging program later, but here’s a high-level outline of how it works.

  • Identify soft or hard skills or values you want to encourage in your organization, from leadership and interpersonal skills to new technology.
  • Create criteria that must be accomplished in order to earn the badge, and establish the reward for doing so.
  • Allow employees to work towards achieving badges based on the motivation you provide.
  • Once a badge is earned, it is displayed in a virtual display case on the company intranet, or even printed off and displayed at their workstation, and the employee is rewarded accordingly.

Why Is Badging Helpful?

Understanding the benefits of badging helps to justify the implementation of a badging system in your organization. Let’s look at the main ways badging can be helpful for both employer and employee.

  • Encourages learning. When you allow employees to showcase their skills through a digital badge in a simple but trusted way, you’re encouraging future development and learning. Your employees will feel excited to learn more and will be given a clear road map to do so in order to add more digital credentials. Talk about a win/win.
  • Promotes recognition and engagement. Badging is a simple way to recognize employees for a job well done. You can empower them to climb that corporate ladder by achieving a specific set of badges or even apply for a pay increase as their knowledge increases through earning more digital badges. Either way, you’re promoting growth in a healthy way through continued recognition and engagement.
  • Motivates healthy competition. Establishing a culture that thrives on healthy competition to propel your organization forward is easier with badging. Employees are able to see the digital badges of their colleagues and use that to fuel their internal fire to keep learning and earning more. There is nothing wrong with using badging to spark some healthy competition; see it as an added benefit for your company.

Tips for Implementing Badging

When it comes to implanting badging in your organization, there are a few best practices and tips you should consider.

Tip 1: Establish Goals

An effective badging system is null and void without clearly defined goals. Think about what you’re trying to achieve or what behaviors or milestones you want your employees to accomplish, and curate your badges accordingly. If you’re looking to create a more cohesive work environment, perhaps you administer a badge in teamwork to demonstrate the importance of teamwork in your organization consistently for a month. Ensure your goals are aligned with the goals of the organization and that the badges are there to clearly back that up.

Tip 2: Create Value, but Don’t Over-Reward

One way to take away the importance you’re trying to establish with badging is to over-reward. Employees don’t need a badge for coming into work on time; that’s an expectation of their job. Focus your badges on values you’re trying to instill or achievements you’re trying to encourage. Make them achievable but not easily accessible. You can reward with things like “get out of dress code free” days or “half-day Friday” coupons. The rewards don’t have to be money-related all the time. You can make them unique and less serious; have fun with it.

Tip 3: Tie Badges to Career Progression

Don’t get overwhelmed wondering what badges you should establish. Best practice has shown that linking badges with career progression increases employee’s motivation. As employees learn more about their specialty or spend more time training how to become a more effective leader, they will be encouraged to keep learning. For example, a sales employee becomes a Level 2 Sales Professional after completing all sales-related training.

Tip 4: Encourage Digital Badge Display

Employees are empowered to earn badges if they have a way to display and feel proud of them. As people find others with similar badges, great discussion between colleagues or even networking potential between organizations may result. As you’re establishing how badging looks at your organization, don’t overlook a way to showcase them after they are earned. Utilize your company intranet or the badging system itself to display badges proudly. It’s possible to use software like Trello or Google Docs to ensure adequate pride and display of badges.

Examples of Badging

Badging can be done in a number of ways to encourage, motivate, and train employees while growing your organization towards a positive culture. Let’s get specific and dive into a few examples of how badging could be used in your organization.

Job-Related Skills

Identify the skills that keep those employees effective in their roles. For a software developer, perhaps you’ll evaluate badges for fluency in agile and software technology. Maybe for an HR professional you’ll consider fluency in HR law and benefits.

Culture-Specific Items

As you develop employees, you’re growing as an organization as you foster a positive culture. Establish badges that support that growth, like an interpersonal-skills badge if an employee is personable and it benefits the organization as a whole. Or maybe an attention-to-detail badge for your accountant who found an error in one of your accounts and went the extra mile to correct it. Create badges for soft skills that are needed to accompany the encouraging and motivating culture you’re striving to achieve.

Salary-Increasing Potential

Take it from the employees at IBM: 75% of surveyed individuals said certification was a key factor in receiving a pay increase in their role. This is yet another great example of badging that can be implemented in your workplace. You can add a salary increase per badge type, or group badges together and allow a 25% increase per set. This is an easy way to encourage growth and take the discrimination out of salary increases. It’s simple: as employees grow, learn, and improve in their roles, the organization compensates them accordingly. This use of badging will surely increase retention in the process.

Questions You’ve Asked Us About Badging

The short answer is that a digital badge is a visual representation of a credential or proof of skills that were achieved by the employee.
Badging and credentialing may be used interchangeably in some organizations. Credentialing is typically showing proof of authority and access to a location. Some organizations may still refer to this as a “badge” and thus may cause some confusion.

Shalie has over 4 years of experience working in a variety of HR positions and organizations including: working as an HR department “of one”, working with a start-up based in Europe, to working in a fully established robust USA based HR department. Shalie has experience in multiple states and countries with all aspects of the HR spectrum. She has a passion to share her knowledge and experience to benefit the HR profession!

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