Since there are more jobs than qualified candidates in this tight labor market, you’re probably doing what you can to keep the talent you have intent on staying with your company and doing their best work.
But will that be enough?
A big part of that answer depends on how well you reward and recognize employees.
In a recent CareerBuilder survey, 50% of employees said they would stay at their current job if they were tangibly recognized for their efforts. The same survey showed 40% wouldn’t bother to go above and beyond their assigned job duties if they don’t feel meaningfully recognized.
If those numbers don’t worry you, think about this one: 53% of workers are willing to “quickly leave the company for a slightly better offer,” according to a Gallup poll in 2018.
That would be way too much churn.
Many HR pros today struggle to find a way to get top management to realize that putting a cash bonus in the paycheck once a year isn’t how you make staff feel valued. Ten years ago it was fine, but there were more workers than jobs back then, remember?
Today’s employees need to be tangibly appreciated frequently — like saying “amazing job!” in real-time, or even better, in a public setting like a team meeting – and in bigger ways (like a commissioned custom oil painting, which is what global entertainment giant Scopely does) for taking the team to the next level.
Need ideas? Here are 13 ways other companies put time, effort and money into recognizing the talent they have.
Encourage employees to recognize each other
It makes perfect sense to encourage employees to pat each other on the back and give the recognition deserved – after all, coworkers are the first to see the sweat and blood that goes into exceeding company expectations!
This can be a somewhat informal system, or program based; it can include gifting or not.
- Create an online kudos form on the company intranet that employees can access. Have them explain why their coworker is deserving of recognition and make that recognition viewable to everyone on the site. Repurpose the kudos in the company newsletter as well. TINYpulse reports that 44% of workers give peer recognition when they have a tool to do so. Software programs are available to make this happen if it’s not something the IT department can set up on your intranet.
- Peer-to-Peer recognition tools can enable employees to give a shout-out to a fellow worker for saving the day or a project well-completed. Those shout-outs can accumulate, and the “points” can be used for prizes. At the tech company Motley Fool, employees let each other know about a job well done 35 times a day on average!
- Online shoe retailer Zappos has a monetized peer recognition program that allows employees to recognize each other’s hard work through incentives. One program allows an employee to give a coworker $50 for going above and beyond. The second program, their Zollar Program, allows employees to rack up recognitions as points on a gift card that can be used to buy things like a gym bag or a desk fan.
Recognition readily available
Recruit the owners, the executives and middle management to be committed to rewarding good work well and often.
Here are some really effective on-the-spot practices. Some are applicable to a whole team and some focus on a single employee:
- It takes time on the manager’s part, but crafting a short note thanking a worker for their dedication and naming specifically what they are being lauded for can make an employee feel tremendously valued. This is something that should be sincere, legible, and done pretty quickly (within a day or two) of the employee’s act or success. It can be left on their desk or handed to them in the course of the day.
- When an employee or team of workers has gone beyond the call of duty to get a project completed by deadline, or saved the day after a near-disaster, managers could reach into the company stash and present the team with company apparel. A free T-shirt or ball cap that has the current logo is an inexpensive way to say, “thank you.” Just make sure it’s not a hodgepodge of old stuff with outdated logos, because that really kills the effect.
- Provide managers with a supply of gift cards of small dollar amounts that can be given on the spot when someone is doing something right. Companies can get these cards from discount sites (Living Social, Groupon) or warehouse stores like Costco to stretch the budget. Instant recognition is a huge morale boost to the employee and their coworkers, who see someone being valued and know it could be them next. Don’t make this clunky by having to put in a requisition and getting the gift card 45 days later, because the moment is lost.
- Exceeding goals, making a somewhat unrealistic deadline or finishing a huge project can all be rewarded with an email to the team saying, “it’s a beautiful afternoon, go enjoy it” or “I appreciate how hard you’ve all worked, feel free to leave for the day and enjoy yourself.”
- A manager who knows the employee’s favorite coffee shop or candy bar can leave a small reward on their desk with a sticky note thanking them for a job well done. For a team, bringing in donuts or bagels in the morning (with gluten free options) or arranging for an ice cream truck to come by one afternoon for a treat on the company’s dime is definitely a morale booster. If you really want management to walk the walk of employee recognition, have bosses create the “indoor food truck” experience by going to each department with a cart of ice cream treats (like Klondike Bars and ice cream sandwiches). If it’s wintertime do a cocoa cart with hot cocoa, whipped cream and peppermint sticks.
- Consider creating a point system for employee kudos and pair it with peer-to-peer and management recognition. Point values are assigned to the thank-you and can be built up for the employee to use in a catalog. Several outlets provide companies with catalogs featuring different levels of gifts, from thermal lunch totes to recliners and televisions.
You’ve already been adding to their benefits menu, workday flexibility and even helping employees pay back student loans. All these things draw talent to your open positions, but now you need to keep them happy long-term.
The rewards programs listed here come with a cost, but the companies using them want to make sure their top performers feel appreciated:
- Yankee Candle Company claims to sell the “World’s Best Loved Candle” and rewards the “World’s Best Loved Employees.” With a global presence, company leaders didn’t just want to mail out recognition gifts to top performers, which seems so impersonal. All managers are equipped with a “best loved employees” toolkit that have various denominations of gift cards and other instant rewards to be presented in person for good work.
- Mobile gaming factory Scopely recognizes major contributions from team members weekly with a trophy, social media shout-out and a coveted preferred parking space. Work anniversaries are huge there – employees get gifts like custom made samurai swords and one-of-a-kind oil paintings. Two Rivers Marketing takes a more cost-effective approach with a personal caricature of the employee on their first anniversary. Using the first anniversary to recognize someone shows them “we’re glad you’re here.”
- New Belgium Brewing, which began with the owner’s inspiration from a trip to Belgium, rewards each employee on their 5-year anniversary with a trip to Belgium. That’s a vacation and appreciation of company culture rolled into one.
- Your company can also create an online wish list for employees to fill out, and when someone goes above and beyond, the company buys them something from the list. Whether it’s an espresso maker or custom car mats, the message screams “We are better because of your good work, so here’s something that will make you happy.”