‘Provide immediate positive reinforcement.’
That’s one of the ideas Cornell University gives to employees for recognising the efforts of others. They have a whole page dedicated to it.
Why so much emphasis on noticing and appreciating the efforts of the employees? Because it makes them feel respected and valued!
While most organisations often appreciate and demonstrate gratitude once a year with an “Employee of the Year” award, such tactics are mere lip service and are far from a genuine expression of gratefulness.
When you go beyond lip service, it makes employees feel cared for and promotes a sense of belonging in the organisation which is crucial to retaining talent.
An employer or a manager taking the time to acknowledge his workforce, an individual or the team, delivers a material difference. Something as simple as a small note of appreciation can lead to better employee morale which can further boost productivity. At times, it can even be sufficient to attract a phenomenal worker.
The current race for finding and then keeping top talent is cutthroat. It takes considerable effort to attract an employee you want. It takes even more determination and energy to keep the best performers from looking for greener pastures. Employee recognition is one technique to make your employees stay.
And what is Employee Recognition? It is any effort taken to acknowledge the contributions of the employees or appreciate their accomplishments. It can be given to a team as a whole or an individual worker.
In simpler terms, it comprises supporting the work a person does for the company and knitting an emotional link with them.
Sincere Employee Appreciation Practices That Create an Impact
Real recognition has to be consistent. This means that it has to be given as and when required, unlike the yearly rewarding policy of the organisation. Having said that, throwing a random and generic ‘thanks’ every day is not the correct way to go about it.
Here are a handful of ideas to get you started.
Recognising Individual Effort
Handwritten notes with a small gift are most appreciated by employees, even if it’s a quickly scribbled ‘thank you’ on a sticky note. The trick is to send one immediately after an accomplishment or when high-quality work bears fruit.
Waiting a week or month before you write the note will not have the same impact.
Another affirmative action is calling in the specific employees to your office and thanking them in person. For this to have meaning, ensure that you discuss no other work or topic. Simply demonstrate your regard for their effort.
Any person who has truly gone out of their set parameters and responsibilities needs a more public seal of approval. All such instances are best recognised in a team meeting. Call out the name of the employees and explain why they are being acknowledged.
If the employee is at a lower rung of the organisation, get a personalised message from a CXO. Knowing that the top leadership and not just the immediate manager values your work is far more meaningful than a placatory bonus. It proves that the higher-ups are paying attention, and any contribution made by the employee is taken heed of.
Recognising Team Effort
A universal announcement talking about the achievement of the entire team may sound like a given, but it is useful. The platform utilised for it can differ based on the communication channel you use most commonly. For instance, if the company has a robust social media presence, then publish a team photo with a caption illuminating their work.
Another way is to send a company-wide newsletter covering the entire story of the team’s work. For an organisation that doesn’t have a newsletter, a congratulatory email works just as well. Irrespective of the medium utilised, ensure that the words of praise are genuine and heartfelt.
A surprise celebration honouring every member of the top-performing team is one more employee recognition idea, and it is easy to organise!
Tangible Recognition Ideas
Value-driven awards, like a raise, become sincere when the leaders handpick an employee to recognise his exemplary work. Such a recognition program is best implemented quarterly. The chance to win the award every three months also keeps the workforce engaged.
A few other monetary awards are VIP tickets to exclusive events, a paid vacation, or a sponsored educational opportunity, like training. The tangible recognition you choose should be based on what the employees prefer and value. For instance, a person who has been wishing to attend a seminar would appreciate the chance to participate in it more than watching a movie for free.
Retention-Focused Recognition Ideas
When you know that an employee is feeling underappreciated or disengaged and has one foot out of the door, these are some of the strategies to put to work. Include them in a project that is beyond the scope of their daily tasks. Request their input on decisions that impact the company as a whole. Give them a seat on the table, i.e., ask them to join an executive meeting.
An alternative is opening more doors for the employee. This could include inviting them to an event or conference where they act as a representative of the firm. If all fails, then promote them. The chance to advance in the corporate ladder is something every employee treasures and recognises as his due for a job well done.
Genuine Employee Recognition is Pivotal
Studies suggest that at any given time, 50% of the workforce is on the verge of leaving. Therefore, investing in any avenue that helps retain them is crucial. Employee recognition, more precisely expressing genuine gratitude, is one tactic for keeping the workforce happy and engaged.
Use the ideas above to prove to workers that each one of them is esteemed. No method, even something as basic as home delivery of flowers, is inconsequential. Remember the smallest effort on your part, if sincere, can make the most significant difference.
The last piece of advice is to utilise a mix of employee recognition ideas. Continually using the same tactic lessens its potency and segues into perfunctory.