Are you including employee recognition?

Every company wants employees who are happy in their jobs. After all, happy employees typically equal productive employees, and productivity drives business results and helps a company achieve its goals. A Strategy to consider is around employee recognition.

There are many ways to ensure the happiness of your employees, and chances are you’ve heard the majority of them before. They include strategies such as maintaining a positive working environment, holding regular team-building activities to help employees develop meaningful relationships with each other, and offering your employees opportunities to develop and grow in their career.

There is one strategy, however, that often gets overlooked by many organisations: recognition.

In fact, a recent survey showed the gap that exists between how senior management and employees perceive recognition efforts. While 56% of senior management felt their company was above average when it came to appreciating employees, only 23% of staff felt likewise!

Here are some other startling numbers:

  • 49% of employees said they would leave their current job for a company that better-recognized employees for their efforts and contributions.
  • 69% of employees would work harder if they were better recognized.
  • And 78% of workers said being recognised motivates them in their job. Indeed, employees who have been recognised by their employers assert that they love their jobs.

Why recognition in the workplace is essential

Recognition in the workplace is a powerful tool. It creates a positive work environment where employees challenge themselves to reach new levels of success. It motivates high performance and encourages employees to go above and beyond. And it increases morale. Recognition is essentially a form of validation, ensuring employees that they play a role in the company’s big picture and are therefore valued and needed.

If your company doesn’t yet practice regular recognition, it’s never too late to start. Or, if you need to enhance your existing recognition program, you can easily make a few adjustments that your employees will no doubt appreciate.

The basics of employee recognition

1. Be quick with recognition

Ideally, recognition should occur as close to performance as possible. This way, the praise reinforces the behavior the employer wants to encourage.

If you wait too long—days or even weeks later—the employee has already put their accomplishment behind them and is no longer in that mindset.

Immediacy is vital, as it allows the employee to better tie their performance with the praise they’re receiving.

2. Be specific with employee recognition

“Good job” may sound encouraging, but it isn’t enough to foot the bill when it comes to workplace recognition. You must let the employee know what specific behaviours or actions are being rewarded.

When you’re too generic, you leave an employee confused about what exactly they did right.

When you praise specific items, however (‘closed X number of sales calls’, finished the project X days before the deadline, etc.), you’re offering the employee a blueprint for repeated success.

3. Be accurate with recognition

Nothing’s more embarrassing than not having your facts straight when it’s time to acknowledge an employee.

Ensure you know the person’s name and the specific accomplishment for which you’re acknowledging them.

Making a mistake in this manner will only serve to leave a sour taste in the employee’s mouth.

4. Be fair with recognition

As the old adage goes, ‘it takes a village to raise a child.’

While there will certainly be occasions when a star employee stands out above the rest, for the most part, projects tend to be a team effort.

Don’t make the mistake of overlooking contributors. Instead, recognise and celebrate unsung heroes who helped behind the scenes.

5. Be well-balanced with recognition

Finally, make sure that the reward you’re offering matches the degree of achievement.

For instance, if you’re celebrating an employee’s five year anniversary, don’t simply hand him or her a pen with the company’s logo. This only sends the message that the milestone is insignificant.

Likewise, avoid going overboard with recognition. Small tokens of appreciation such as plaques/trophies, gift certificate, or even food are sometimes perfectly sufficient to make an employee feel valued.

Employee recognition helps to build a positive work environment along with a positive relationship between employees and their company. Using the strategies above, you’ll design a robust recognition program that makes for a happier and healthier workplace.

Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

Rosalind Cardinal is the Principal Consultant of Shaping Change, a consultancy specialising in improving business outcomes by developing individuals, teams and organisations.
Ros is a solutions and results oriented facilitator and leadership coach, with a career in the Human Resources and Organisational Development field spanning more than 20 years. Ros’ expertise spans leadership development, organisational culture, team building, change and transition management, emotional intelligence, organisational behaviour, employee engagement, strategic direction and management.
Ros is a Certified Member of the Australian Human Resources Institute (CAHRI), a member of the Australian Institute of Training and Development (AITD) and a Professional Member of the Australian Association for Psychological Type (AusAPT). She holds a Graduate Diploma in Human Resources from Deakin University, an Australian Human Resources Institute Professional Diploma in Human Resources and has completed the Australian Graduate School of Management Executive Program, Strategic Human Resource Management.