It's no secret that happy employees are more productive, more engaged, and more likely to stick around. And one of the simplest and most effective ways to keep your team happy is through employee recognition.
At its most basic, employee recognition is the act of acknowledging, praising, and appreciating one’s team members for their contributions. Employees can be recognized for several reasons and recognition can take many forms, but the goal remains the same: to make them feel that what they and their colleagues do matters.
As simple as it sounds, employee recognition is widely overlooked by companies today. A study by Gallup/Workhuman found that:
81% of leaders say recognition isn’t a major strategic priority of their company
73% of senior leaders say their companies don’t offer managers training for employee recognition
Nearly two out of three executives claim that their organization has no funding set out for any recognition initiative
The good news is that when companies make employee recognition a priority, the impact is impressive! When recognized in a way that feels genuine and consistent, employees are found to be:
4x more likely to be engaged in their job
5x more likely to see a path of growth in their organization
56% less likely to be looking or watching for other job opportunities
70% more likely to be “thriving” in their life overall
How to Create A Meaningful Employee Recognition Program
Now that we’ve established why employee recognition deserves a place in every organization, let’s move on to how to execute it better—or for the first time ever.
While there is no universal program to rule them all, there are 7 key elements of meaningful employee recognition that all managers can use:
1. Be specific: When recognizing employees, avoid generic praises and take time to explain what the recognition is for. This helps them relate the recognition to a particular behavior and lets them know what they are encouraged to do more of moving forward.
2. Be timely: Recognition is most effective when given in a timely manner, so don’t wait until an annual review to recognize your employees. Keep your eye out for opportunities to recognize your team members, such as after a successful project or when they go above and beyond on a task.
3. Make it visible: Don’t let it go unnoticed. Share recognition successes with the rest of the company, either through a company-wide email or channel. This can help to build morale and encourage others to strive for excellence.
4. Recognize different types of contributions: Not all contributions are the same, and it's important to recognize the diverse ways that your employees contribute to your company. This can include things like team leadership, customer service, problem-solving, and more. Tenure is also a form of contribution that should be acknowledged—and most definitely rewarded.
5. Get creative: Recognition doesn't have to be limited to traditional awards or bonuses. Think outside the box and come up with creative ways to recognize your employees, such as special team-building activities or personalized gifts.
6. Measure the impact of recognition: Track and measure the impact of your recognition efforts. This can help you identify what is working well and what could be improved upon. You could survey employees to gather feedback, or track metrics such as retention rates, productivity, and engagement.
7. Be consistent: Lastly, recognition should be a consistent part of your company culture, not just a one-time event. Make sure to recognize your employees regularly and consistently in order to make it truly meaningful.
Bonus tip: At TopVA, we have several strategies to ensure that our employee recognition is embedded in our culture. One of these strategies is our #wowzers channel, a company-wide channel on Slack where managers can recognize their colleagues for their hard work and achievement. This allows for a quick and easy way to show appreciation as a team.
As someone who manages a team, you have the power to create a work environment that inspires your team to give their best effort. Employee recognition is a vital part of this equation, and it’s something that should be incorporated into your company’s culture regularly.
So don’t wait—start giving your team the recognition they deserve today!
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