Traditionally, recognition at work has meant bonuses and programs like employee of the month. But these don’t necessarily drive engagement.
A generic pat on the back at the end of the year isn’t good enough. When employees have come to expect bonuses or their turn as employee of the month, they don’t feel like their work is being appreciated. They feel like a cog in the machine. Our Employee Engagement Report found that fewer than one in three employees feels valued at their job.
Research has demonstrated that if employees don’t feel adequately recognized they’re more likely to leave. In fact, a CareerBuilder survey found that 50% of employees believed better recognition would lead to less voluntary turnover. And a recent Globoforce survey of HR leaders found that employee engagement is a top issue, with people more likely to quit their jobs in the strengthening economy.
One way to approach this is to adopt best practices for employee recognition. Don’t accept what’s been done for years ― provide more creative, intentional recognition that your employees will respond to.
Employees do great work throughout the year. So why recognize that work only once a year?
Instead, through providing consistent praise and positive feedback, you can create a culture of praise. Lead by example ― don’t be afraid to tell an employee they’ve done a good job.
You can also use peer-to-peer recognition tools to support a culture of recognition. This provides a way for employees to give each other shout outs. Our research found that peers are the top driver of satisfaction in the workplace, so employees hearing praise from their colleagues has clear value. Crowdsourcing recognition can lead to a team that feels more cohesive and works better together.
Another issue employees have with recognition programs is that they’re generic. If your approach to recognition is one size fits all, then you’re not demonstrating to employees that they’re valued.
Make an announcement at a company meeting about a team that’s been putting in extra effort. Even small rewards, like a gift card for an employee who completed a large project, can go a long way. By providing positive recognition, you reinforce behaviors associated with a positive workplace.
If you have an introverted employee, maybe that all-company announcement or email isn’t the best way to go. Instead, handwrite them a personal note. Showing that you took time out of your busy day to recognize their good work is something your employees will appreciate.
On the same wavelength, remembering an employee’s birthday and giving them a card signed by everyone in the office will make a real difference.
And sometimes it may even just be best for employees to pick their own way to celebrate their hard work. Services such as Tango Card allow employees to pick how they want to spend their gift card — whether it’s for one store, multiple stores, or even donating to their favorite charity. Sure beats getting a Starbucks card from a manager when the employee doesn't even drink coffee or tea.
Let’s face it: few people get a thrill from being employee of the month. Employees will find it more fun if you gamify recognition, making it into a contest. Keep the competition friendly and the rewards small.
Bringing in treats on a random day (or after a big deadline is met) just to show your appreciation is also a winner. Offering a happy hour beer to employees is another way to keep it fun.
People often think of employee recognition as a warm, fuzzy idea that doesn’t have any impact on the real world. Maybe that’s because companies have been using the same tired ideas. Employees who feel appreciated and valued are more likely to stay with your company for the long haul.