TINYInstitute Primer: Essential Resources on Employee Recognition

by Dora Wang on Jan 31, 2016 8:00:00 AM

TINYinstitute Essential Resources on Employee Recognition & AppreciationThe fourth TINYinstitute primer is about one of the most important things a leader can do: employee recognition. Though we list this step in the middle of the employee journey, the truth is that showing appreciation for your workforce should be a priority from day one.

But recognition can be easier said than done, especially if you're a new leader. Read on for your essential resources.


5-Minute Reading: Short Articles


Get an idea of just how big of an impact recognition can make with this overview:


Employee Recognition: Why It Matters And How To Do It

Consider these stats on employees who said they were recognized within the last three months:

  • 89% feel effectively appreciated by their supervisors
  • 83% feel their level of recognition is satisfactory
  • 90% feel that their managers effectively acknowledge and appreciate them
  • 76% love their jobs

That's right. More frequent recognition = more employee happiness.  


Now, let's clear up some misconceptions. Effective employee recognition is authentic and meaningful. That means that a lot of the old assumptions need to be tossed out. Take a look at these facts that might shake up your mental image of recognition:


12 Eye-Opening Facts You Didn’t Know About Employee Recognition

87% of recognition programs focus on tenure

Having an employee stick around for 20, 10, or even 5 years is something to celebrate — there’s no doubt about that. But it shouldn’t be the only thing that should be celebrated about the person. Can you imagine going a full year without receiving any type of recognition? Well, that’s what you’re doing when you focus only on tenure.

Recognition should focus on an employee’s contributions and efforts. If they’ve done a great job, let them know on the spot. Just because someone’s stuck around for who-knows-how-long and has been as productive as a lump of coal in a chair, then does this person truly deserve the recognition?

Companies with recognition programs that are highly effective at improving employee engagement have 31% lower voluntary turnover

It’s been said over and over again — turnover is extremely expensive. So imagine losing all that money to recruitment, hiring, and training when, in fact, you could’ve just leveraged a recognition program to save you the hassle.


So how should you recognize employees in a way that actually makes them feel valued? The sky's the limit, but that freedom can be intimidating. So here are some examples to get you started:


18 Creative Employee Recognition Ideas

Social butterfly: Take to your company’s Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn to recognize your employee in a public setting. Highlight who they are, what they’ve done, and why it was such a great deed.

Rotating trophy: Find a fun trophy, stuffed animal, or figurine that you can pass around the office. Give it to an employee who has exemplified one of your organizational values, and let them keep it on their desk for a week. Come the next week, let that employee hand it off to one of their peers who has done the same.

Cheer tee: Has someone done a spectacular act or gone the extra mile at work? Have teammates sign a company tee with a thank-you message.


And don't assume that employee recognition is something that's done only by managers. One of the best ways to make employees feel truly appreciated is to get their coworkers in on the act by leveraging peer recognition:


A Key Employee Recognition Idea That Fights Workplace Unhappiness

If you want employees to feel valued at work, then you should turn to their coworkers. Peer recognition is an indispensable part of your employee appreciation strategy.

  • Peers are the number one reason employees go the extra mile at work — not their leaders, and not money
  • Coworker relationships are the number one thing employees miss most about the most recent job they left
  • 49% say positive feedback from coworkers gives them satisfaction, but only 39% say the same about positive feedback from their leadership team/executives


In-Depth Reading: Research Report


Recognition might be a feel-good concept, but that doesn't mean it's just fluff. Hard data shows just how much it really affects the workplace. Take a look at some of our research:


The Effects of Employee Recognition and Appreciation

There’s a saying that we hear all too often: “people quit their bosses, not their company.” And it’s very true! People don’t want to work under a boss that doesn’t value their contributions.

So it’s no wonder that there’s a relationship between how valued an employee feels and how highly they would rate their direct supervisor (r = 0.35).


Take Action: Real-World Application


See how other leaders have used recognition as a solution to their real-life employee issues. Here's a story from Michael Hancock, Strategic Planning Manager of Geeks2U, and what his company did to address a challenge to employee morale:


Overcoming Classic Leadership Challenges

The Challenge: Keeping Morale Up

There are always ups and downs in workforce morale, of course, but sometimes you have to be proactive and give it a boost. This is especially true in times of change, since the upheaval of what’s familiar can make employees lose confidence. Aon Hewitt found that corporate change can be a blow to workers’ engagement levels — the percent of disengaged employees can shoot as high as 21%.

The Tool: Peer Recognition

The solution? Use employees to help each other. According to Socialcast, 78% of employees say that being recognized motivates them at their job. So Hancock adopted a digital peer recognition tool. Now people could quickly and easily give their colleagues a “virtual pat on the back.”

The initiative paid off. “Employees no longer receive positive feedback from just their manager,” Hancock explains, “but now their coworkers too.” By allowing employees at all levels to contribute to recognition, the entire workforce could contribute their effort to raising morale. The company encouraged participation by sharing the recognition messages at meetings and through email, and they even implemented a digital broadcast for spreading the praise far and wide.

“[I]t’s had a tremendous effect on the team as a whole,” Hancock says. He calls the peer recognition tool “invaluable.”


Done reading? Then take action! The great thing about employee recognition is, you can do it instantly. Then come back next week, when we'll cover employee training and development.


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This post was written by Dora Wang

Dora is an employee engagement researcher for TINYpulse and managing editor of TINYinstitute. Having grown up in Texas, she is now firmly settled in Seattle, where she spends her free time reading comic books, wrangling her three cats, and (of course) rooting for the Seahawks.

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