Thanking your employees for a job well done isn’t just about being nice — it’s a savvy business decision when you consider the following statistics from Globoforce:
55% of employees say they’d leave their current jobs for an organization with better recognition efforts
82% of employees said being recognized actually motivated them in their jobs
But when it comes to saying thank you to your employees, a one-size-fits-all-approach doesn’t work because it can alienate employees with different personalities. A monthly awards ceremony might thrill a spotlight-loving extrovert, but the same attention will cause an introvert to panic.
Susan Cain, the author of Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking, tells the Washington Post that company culture is skewed towards extroverts. And this bias can be found in “[e]verything from how we structure our offices to how we expect people to be creative to whom we groom for leadership positions."
The same is true for many popular employee recognition practices. If you want to thank your introverted employees for their hard work in a way that makes them feel appreciated and motivated, don’t do these three things:
Make a public announcement in a big group: Nothing is quite as disarming to an introvert as being singled out in a public setting with all eyes in a crowded room on them. Cain describes introverts as people who thrive in lower-stimulation environments and extroverts as those who “crave stimulation in order to feel at their best.” Public recognition makes introverts uncomfortable, so an announcement at the company-wide meeting is not the best idea.
Spring an unexpected award on them: Introverts aren't just shy and quiet. They’re thoughtful people who need time to process things internally. Whereas an extrovert might showcase their surprise in the form of admiration and excitement, the introvert may seem less enthusiastic about an unexpected award, especially if it’s in front of a lot of people.
Ask them talk about their achievements: Has your introverted employee done something amazing? Don’t ask them to talk about it at a meeting unless you’ve given them plenty of advance notice. Again, this type of recognition puts them in the spotlight, something that introverts find problematic. They may seem tongue-tied if asked to talk about their own achievements, not because they’re not confident in their abilities, but because they have no desire to be at the center of attention.
Not sure how to appreciate your introverted employees? Try these ideas:
Send a congratulatory email: It sounds less personal, we know, but your introverted employee will be grateful for the gesture. It also gives them time to craft a response. For a more thoughtful approach, try a handwritten note.
Thank them in a small-group setting: Recognize their hard work at a team meeting where they’re comfortable with everyone around them — and make sure to give them a heads up, so they can be prepared.
Reward them with a work-from-home day: Introverts need time to recharge and prefer quiet spaces, so reward them with a day to work from home.
According to our 2014 Employee Engagement Report, almost 80% of employees reported that they are feeling undervalued and underappreciated. Employee recognition is important, but don’t assume that all employees want their appreciation in the same way. Somewhere between one-third and one-half of Americans are introverted, so public awards and recognition strategies will make them uncomfortable — and less likely to see recognition as a good thing.