23 July, 2020

How Emotional Stamps Influence Employee Engagement & Retention

In the previous introductory blog, we had discussed the significance of Behavioral Economics in creating a scientific framework for employee engagement, total rewards and recognition frameworks. Multiple psychological factors are at play when employees think and behave in a certain way in the workplace. We need to harness this knowledge to encourage better performance and improve levels of employee engagement.

In this blog post, we will talk about a specific cognitive phenomenon- Emotional Stamps and their significance in creating the right kind of employee rewards program to attain greater ROI. To understand this better, let’s first talk about how human beings think. Nobel prize winning economist and psychologist Daniel Kahneman’s insights present a simple model for us to understand this. In his book, Thinking Fast and Slow, he explains that we think in two ways- fast (intuitive) and slow (logical).  Most of the time, we rely on the fast way of thinking through an ‘associative machine’ in the brain which recalls previously stored information in the form of visuals, information and feelings to arrive at a decision. This is involuntary, effortless and does not involve slow or logical thinking unless the information we have is proved wrong. With the colossal amount of information that gets processed by our minds every day, it is safe to say that most human beings majorly rely on this intuitive system of thinking. Now we arrive at the concept of emotional stamps. Because we are using this ‘fast’ method of thinking, memories are marked in our minds with a powerful emotional stamp for retrieval. These stamps are the reason you remember your grandparents when you smell a traditional dish or feel warm and happy when you look at old pictures. In addition, it is proved by several scientists including neurobiologist Matthew Walker in his book Why We Sleep that memories with a strong emotional impact are more easily remembered, as opposed to those lacking emotion. So how does this relate to an employee’s life cycle?

An employee remembers their time with an organization based on the highs and lows they faced while working there. Peak moments of achievement create a powerful sense of euphoria and the more that are created, the more fondly they will remember their time within a firm. A simple way to accomplish these stamps is by recognizing extraordinary efforts with a tangible reward and words of appreciation. Rewards such as customized gifts, certificates and trophies can be remembered more strongly, resulting in a re-living of the positive memory which in turn, increases loyalty to the employer brand. Every recognition received by an employee creates an emotional stamp. Moreover, rewards in the form of experiences create further emotional stamps during recall. Curating rewards to match an employee’s preferences is the key secret to building a long-lasting memory. For example- someone who enjoys travel may like to visit a popular destination or participate in an adventure sport, vouchers of which should be made available in a reward catalog.

While it is essential to avoid the formulation of negative emotional stamps within an employee, promoting the creation of positive ones is equally, if not more important. In today’s competitive industries, retention of employees is critical. Moreover, the ones who choose to leave often become brand ambassadors of your firm to potential recruits. If we provide strong emotional stimulus to employees frequently, we will be able to create a positive employer brand, work culture and inspire higher performance in employees. Likewise, the same strategies can be used to build better relationships with channel partners and customers.

Young Male Employee Expressing Happiness

Learn how to build positive stamps by establishing an effective employee engagement program and stay tuned as we continue to explore behavioral economics in our blog series!