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How to get employee recognition right, and why it matters

How you thank your employees for their hard work matters. Remember back to elementary school, when it was a big deal to get a good grade on a paper followed by that coveted smiley face from your teacher? People don’t outgrow their desire to receive praise from those around them, particularly those familiar with their work.

Are you giving employees and coworkers that smiley face kind of joy or a big letdown? You may be thinking, “Hey, I rock at showing employee appreciation! No worries here.” Well, think again, because there’s a chance your employees don’t believe that’s true.

Are today’s workers getting the recognition they deserve?

About four in 10 senior managers (43%) think so, new research from staffing firm OfficeTeam shows. But 58% of survey respondents indicated their organization could do a better job of celebrating employees’ successes and more than half said it was somewhat likely they would leave their jobs if they didn’t feel appreciated.

Employee recognition can be thought of in terms of a positive feedback loop. The formula is both easy to remember and easy to put into practice: Employee recognition equals employee productivity equals management gratitude.

While the three elements of this simple yet profoundly rewarding feedback loop are synergistically related, employee recognition is a distinct, proactive step management can take to promote a success-oriented mindset across all facets of the operation.

The more employees know that their efforts are appreciated by management and the company as a whole, the more they’ll strive to do great work. Employee recognition benefits both the staff and the business itself in several ways:

Benefits of employee recognition for workers

·       Greater motivation: Employees who know they stand to be rewarded for outstanding performance approach their jobs with greater enthusiasm and creativity. The opposite is unfortunately true: Not being appreciated is commonly cited by departing employees as a reason for moving on to a business where they feel their efforts are more likely to be recognized.

·       Peer acknowledgement: Chances are, employees who get word of a coworker’s achievement will take the time to offer their own congratulations. It’s hard to image an employee who wouldn’t welcome the acknowledgement.

·       Empowerment and inclusion: Employee recognition programs can make staff members feel more connected to the company rather than just the recipient of a regular paycheck. That moves loyalty beyond just a financial appeal.

Benefits of employee recognition for the business

·       Reinforcing positive behavior: If employees excel, others will notice. That can help others raise their performance in hopes of being recognized as well.

·       Lowering stress levels: If the emphasis is on the positive rather than an overriding concern about snafus, employees are likely to feel less overwhelmed about their job responsibilities.

·       Increasing customer retention: Higher employee motivation levels typically carry over to satisfied customers and clients. Those you do business with inevitably notice employees who bring a commitment and enthusiasm to what they do. Unfortunately, a disgruntled or frustrated employee can stand out to customers just as much.

Low-cost employee recognition ideas

Now that we’ve reviewed some of the benefits of employee recognition programs, let’s look at some options. Not every employee recognition award has to be pricey. Here are 12 budget-conscious alternatives:

·       Time off or extra vacation days

·       A note or letter of appreciation from the company president

·       Dinner at a local restaurant (or a “lunch on me” coupon)

·       A designated employee-of-the-month parking spot

·       Tickets to the movies or a sporting or cultural event

·       A photo and brief article in the company newsletter

·       Special recognition at a company meeting

·       A department picnic to celebrate a team achievement

·       Token of appreciation (T-shirt, tech gadget, etc.) with the company logo

·       Decorating the employee’s office or cube with balloons or “Great job!” signs

·       Coffee gift cards

Mistakes to avoid

·       Get your facts straight. Nothing’s more embarrassing than rewarding the wrong person.

·       Don’t overwhelm them. Recognition doesn’t need to be extravagant to be effective.

·       Don’t underwhelm them. The form of recognition should fit the degree of achievement.

·       Be specific. Properly give thanks by tying acknowledgments back to specific actions.

·       Recognize all involved. Don’t forget to also celebrate unsung heroes who help behind the scenes.

In competitive markets, good employees often have ample occasion to find new and potentially better opportunities. Giving them due recognition and making them feel appreciated can sometime make the difference between them sticking with you or joining forces with your competition.

Louisa Waldman is the regional vice president for Robert Half. In this role, she oversees operations for the company’s OfficeTeam, Accountemps, Robert Half Finance and Accounting and Robert Half Management Resources divisions. Robert Half is the world’s first and largest professional staffing firm with more than 300 locations worldwide including Boise. For more information, visit www.roberthalf.com/id-boise.

About Louisa Waldman