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Fostering A Culture Of Employee Recognition In The Workplace

Employee recognition is a vital factor required for a company to maintain high levels of efficiency and productivity.  More often than not, employee recognition is cited as a critical contributor to workforce happiness, employee loyalty, and long-term satisfaction.  Studies show that nearly 65 percent of employees do not feel they are recognized by their supervisors.  Further, 87 percent of recognition programs that are based on length of service have no impact on performance.  Employers must understand that when employees’ hard work goes unnoticed and unrecognized, it can have serious implications on a company’s culture and success.

The concept of employee recognition is far more than just a trendy buzzword.  There are many benefits associated with creating a culture of employee recognition.  First, there will be greater employee retention when employees feel valued and appreciated.  Second, employees who feel valued and recognized are more likely to have a better relationship with their managers.  Third, recognition programs foster a deeper connection with the company by allowing employees to view their jobs as more than just a thing to do to receive a paycheck; they see their contributions really matter and their hard work makes a difference.  Lastly, when employees are recognized for their hard work, they will show more enthusiasm and take more initiative in the future, resulting in greater productivity and efficiency for your company.

We have put together some helpful tips you can use to create a meaningful recognition culture in your organization.

  1. Timing is everything. When recognition is given months after the fact it loses its meaning and lacks authenticity.  A simple “thank you” is more effective than you think when you see an employee going above and beyond to finish a project.  You might think it is unnecessary since employees know what they are doing is good, but positive re-enforcement has never hurt anyone.  Most importantly, a “thank you” from the boss costs absolutely nothing and makes a world of difference in motivating employees.

  2. Recognize the right attitude and behaviors and not just good outcomes. For example, a manager may recognize an employee who achieves or surpasses their sales target or lands a new client.  In addition to recognizing employees for meeting their goals, let employees know that you appreciate the initiative they took to learn how to sell a new product or their persistence and determination to land the new client.  In most situations, the right behaviors and outlook are leading indicators of positive business outcomes.  Show your appreciation for not only the outcome, but for the overall process taken to reach the desired goal.  This type of recognition provides employees with greater motivation to take on more difficult tasks and achieve greater success.

  3. Recognition must be personal and specific. Recognition is only effective when it is authentic, heartfelt, personal and specific to the employee’s positive behavior and achieved result.  Although it is easy to send a generic “thank you” email, it is a wasted effort.  Instead, try a handwritten thank you card or have a five minute face to face conversation with the employee expressing your appreciation for their hard work that is tied to a specific accomplishment or business objective.  Try dividing recognition into categories such as leadership, teaching, sales and performance.  Being specific allows employees to relate the received recognition to their behavior and encourages continued strong performance in the future.

  4. Don’t let recognition only come from the top down. It’s not realistic to expect managers to catch every single thing that every employee does.  Sure, the only way to start a culture of recognition is for recognition to start at the top and trickle down.  But you can create a more effective and far reaching culture of recognition by encouraging everyone to participate in recognizing each other’s efforts.  Let your employees know that they should recognize their colleagues and even their supervisors when they did a good job on a presentation.  Set a designated time at staff meetings where employees can recognize each other publicly.  Peer recognition creates a sense of friendship, team spirit, and a sense of belonging among fellow employees.  It is been found that close work friendships are likely to boost employee satisfaction by 50% and people who have close friends at work are 7 times more likely to fully engage in their work.

  5. Foster collaboration through peer-to-peer learning and give employees more responsibility. Nearly 70% of employees credit their peers for creating an engaging work environment.  Allowing employees to participate in peer-to-peer learning lets employees recognize each other as “experts” on certain subjects and approach each other to seek help, ask questions, and learn more.  Peer-to-peer learning enables employees to interact and collaborate with coworkers across different teams and departments.  The added responsibility of being an “expert” empowers your employees and builds your team members’ confidence when employers recognize and trust their expertise.

  6. Make recognition fun! Many employers are using mobile technology to recognize and reward employees.  Mobile apps allow managers and employees to instantly provide recognition and appreciation for good actions taken.  Companies can create a game-like, employee-centric experience on a company-wide platform where employees receive immediate recognition.  Since recognition is most powerful and effective when it’s instantaneous, employees will perceive a strong link between the recognition received and their actions, which likely means they will be more motivated to repeat those good behaviors in the future.


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