Now more than ever, employers are seeing how important it is to keep their staff happy and motivated at work. One way to do that: Employee recognition.
A recent study found that 82% of respondents consider “recognition an important part of their happiness at work.”
It just makes good business sense – satisfied, engaged employees work harder, produce better work and stick around longer.
Not to mention, in this tight labor market, companies are having to go the extra mile to hang on to their best employees.
Getting them to stay
Instead of taking their chances in the war for talent, many companies are opting to focus on ways to convince their best employees to stay put. And the keys to that endeavor? Rewards and recognition.
Now, we’re not talking about the occasional “good job” or free donuts in the breakroom – workers today want much more than that. To really feel connected to their companies, employees need constant feedback and specific recognition for their hard work. They want enjoyable, well-thought-out rewards programs that show they’re valued – anything less could push them right out the door.
Survey after survey has shown that while raises and bonuses are good motivators, recognition and rewards are even more powerful. Money only goes so far if employees are miserable at work every day. It’s a revamp of company culture that’ll really make employees feel appreciated and get them to stay.
Recognition the right way
The great thing about recognition is it costs nothing and takes very little time to let employees know they’re doing excellent work. When used appropriately, praise allows staff to know what exactly they’re doing right – so they can keep doing it – and that management has noticed and appreciated all their effort.
According to the study by Curiosity at Work and Bonusly, some of the No. 1 ways to get feedback are:
- 1:1 meetings with managers (38%)
- team meetings (25%)
- annual reviews (16%), and
- public messaging channels (11%).
Note: These answers came from different populations of employees so it’s important to vary your approach so everyone is happy.
But believe it or not, there are some common mistakes that can make recognition ineffective. Praising employees too much or being nonspecific won’t be helpful.
Key strategies to boost employee recognition efforts
Here are some key strategies for managers who want to boost their recognition efforts.
- Thank employees after completing a particularly difficult or tedious assignment. It may seem insignificant, but a “thank you” can really go a long way. Employees aren’t often thanked in the workplace because the effort they put in can just seem like part of their job. Turn this around and show your appreciation when you notice someone working longer days to finish a tough project or going out of their way to help a team member.
- Be specific in your praise. While the sentiment behind “good job” is nice, it won’t be that useful to your employees. It’s important to let them know specifically what they did that made you happy with their work, so they can do it again. For example, if they always turn in quality work on time, praise them for being reliable and always hitting deadlines.
- Recognize your people in the moment. Praise loses some of its meaning if you wait a while to let an employee know they performed well. Immediate feedback is always the most effective. When you see workers going above and beyond, let them know right then and there that you appreciate what they’re doing. This way, they’re more likely to remember exactly what they did and repeat the performance.
- Don’t use praise too frequently. The effect of recognition will wear off quickly if you start complimenting employees on everything they do. To avoid this, it’s a good idea to save your praise for truly excellent work. This could also inspire good employees to become even better.
- Use trust to recognize employees. Nothing tells employees you’re pleased with their performance like trusting them with more responsibility. This is a very tangible way to show your employees they’ve done excellent work and they’re valued members of the team.
- Encourage employees to recognize each other. Praise from managers isn’t the only thing employees crave. Compliments from co-workers can also go a long way. By encouraging your staff to recognize each other, comradery and trust will naturally start to form.
- Host an awards ceremony. Here’s a more fun spin on employee recognition: make it into an event. Giving out personalized awards will highlight everyone’s strengths and let employees know what their colleagues have accomplished.
- Recognize accomplishments outside of work. A great touch to any recognition program is celebrating employees’ achievements outside of the workplace. By congratulating your people on milestones like birthdays, getting married or having a baby, you’ll create a caring and supportive work environment.