The Right And Wrong Ways To Do Employee Recognition

2 min read
Jan 3, 2015

iStock_000002930872_SmallDo you think a huge raise or promotion would motivate your employees to work extra hard? What about a holiday gift or free lunches? We’re sure they would appreciate those things, but they actually find personal recognition more motivating than money. According to a survey, 78% of workers say recognition is a major motivator for them, and 69% of employees would work harder if they were better recognized.

By all means, promote your superstar employees for their great work. But don’t think that alone will increase motivation. Recognition doesn’t have anything to do with workplace perks or money. Nor should it be something that is scheduled or mixed with criticism. The easiest place to start? With a simple “thank you.”

Here are three right and wrong ways to show appreciation and boost employee motivation:

Right: Personalized thanks yous

Wrong: One-size-fits-all recognition 

Take the time to find out what your employees value when being recognized. Do they want to be applauded in a meeting, or do they prefer hearing it one-on-one? Do they like frequent check-ins or one big, weekly meeting about everything that went right? Do not take a blanket approach to recognition. Deliver it in a way that makes employees feel comfortable. Be specific and personal about what you’re thanking them for.

Right: Genuine, honest recognition

Wrong: Praise mixed with criticism 

Some people think that it's easier to sandwich criticism between praise. This will only come off as fake, and when you do actually want to praise employees, they will be waiting for the hammer to drop. Keep your recognition and criticism separate. Both will carry more weight and be more meaningful if you give each one the time it deserves. 

Right: Appreciation as it happens

Wrong: Recognition on a fixed schedule

Nothing says ingenuity like receiving a “Thank you for your hard work” email every Tuesday at 11 am. Recognition should not be a routine occurrence. Yes it should happen frequently, but it needs to happen at the same time as the achievement. If your employees work hard on a presentation, make sure to recognize them the next morning. Don’t wait until the appreciation fits a schedule or timeline.

Of course employees think financial rewards are great, but it’s just not the same as personal recognition from you. Employees need constructive feedback, positive affirmation, and appreciation of their effort. And in return, they will stay engaged, stick around longer, and have an extra boost of motivation. You can start by telling your team, “You rock!”




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