Think about the last time you’ve put your heart and soul into a project. You molded it to perfection, nailed the execution, and made it into something you were proud of.
Finishing a project in a way that makes you proud feels amazing, but these feelings are multiplied when coworkers, or better yet, upper management, take notice. Get a “good job” from your boss, and you’re likely to put in just as much, if not more, effort next time around.
On the flip side, a lack of recognition in situations where it feels well deserved can feel bad.
You start to think “Why bother – nobody notices my effort” and are unlikely to give it your all the next time around. This is especially true in the workplace where you’re likely working on something where the purpose is to help the company.
These feelings are exactly why employee recognition is so important.
When coworkers or upper management take notice of good performance, it provides a huge boost to morale and performance within the organization. When employees are recognized or rewarded for their efforts and accomplishments, they feel a sense of pride and are willing to work just as hard on future projects.
Employee recognition connects staff to an organization on an emotional level, evaluates their performance, and improves employee retention.
Unfortunately, according to Gallup Polls, 65% of employees don’t receive any form of recognition!
Fortunately, this statistic can be turned around.
In this article, we’ll go over what employee recognition is, why it’s important, and how to use it to improve employee engagement, retention, and performance.
What Is Employee Recognition?
Employee recognition is the act of openly rewarding or acknowledging employee efforts, achievements, and behavior. Organizations that leverage this effectively are more likely to retain employees, keep them engaged, and improve their performance than those who overlook it too easily.
Employee recognition is a top driver of engagement. Despite this fact, very few organizations are using technology like in-office digital signage to improve this.
If you regularly praise employees authentically when they deserve it, you’ll be able to unlock their full potential and take full advantage of their energy and intelligence. Employees are likely your biggest investment, so why not make sure they’re happy, efficient, and engaged in the workplace?
Overall, effective employee recognition does three things:
1. Showcases Employee Achievements
A simple “thank you” from someone feels great. Thanking your employees for additional effort or accomplishments can go a long way. It’s human nature to desire praise and attention on some level.
When it comes to employees in the workplace, they don’t want their efforts to go completely unnoticed, otherwise, they may feel the effort isn’t necessary.
When a person achieves a goal, completes a project, or learns a new skill, the feeling of accomplishment is only amplified when coworkers and upper management recognize these achievements.
2. Motivates Effort
Rather than just recognizing achievements, it’s important to recognize effort too. Some jobs, like sales, for example, put employees in positions where they experience lots of rejection and are forced to put in massive amounts of effort.
On average, salespeople complete an average of 94 activities to close only three or four deals. This can lead to employees in these roles feeling like they aren’t pulling their weight.
Recognizing that they’re making a meaningful effort and that it matters can go a long way, and help counter the negative emotions they may experience from the rejections they’re experiencing as a part of their job.
3. Reinforces Company Values
By recognizing specific achievements and actions regularly, employees become aware of what sort of things are valued by upper management, leaders, and the company as a whole.
When employees receive recognition for a specific action, they’ll begin to associate the recognition with that particular action, making them more likely to repeat it again in the future to regain those feelings of fulfillment.
Recognizing specific actions can reinforce what your organization values and what it wants in its culture.
Why Does Employee Recognition Matter?
Old-school thinkers will believe that employee recognition doesn’t matter and that employees are more motivated by things like salary and benefits.
While it’s true that salary and benefits are great at attracting new employees, the truth is, they do little to retain them. If employees don’t like the place they’re working, they’ll easily bounce to the next opportunity that presents itself to them.
Employee recognition is a strong retention tool for any organization. Being recognized for the effort is what makes employees feel like the organization they work for is more than just a paycheck – they feel connected to the organization in a stronger way.
Here are a few reasons why employee recognition matters.
1. It Improves Employee Retention
As we’ve mentioned a number of times, a huge benefit of employee recognition is that it improves employee retention. Many people leave jobs due to a lack of recognition. Not only that, but recognition is a great way to attract new talent.
This means that, by recognizing the efforts and accomplishments of your employees, you’ll improve your organization’s ability to retain and attract top talent.
2. It Improves Productivity
If you regularly recognize your employees for their work and accomplishments, they’ll regularly chase that praise by continuing to work productively. Recognition will encourage employees to work harder and become more efficient without you having to ask this of them directly.
3. It Promotes a Team-Centered Culture
Employee recognition encourages your workforce to look at the positive attributes in one another, which draws them closer to each other.
While praise from upper-management is important, it’s also important that your employees see that their coworkers value their efforts as well.
This can be accomplished by allowing your team to nominate each other for recognition awards, such as employee of the month, for example.
4. It Creates Trust Between Managers and Employees
Positive feedback from managers to employees can strengthen the relationship between employees in these roles.
In fact, when employees receive recognition from their bosses, 90% of them report high levels of trust in their relationship. Alternatively, only 48% of employees report this same level of trust when they receive no recognition.
5. It Reduces Stress and Absenteeism Among Your Workforce
When your employees are regularly recognized for a job well done, they’re less likely to become stressed about where they stand with the management team.
This means that they’re less likely to worry that the work they’re doing is actually good in the eyes of management.
By recognizing the efforts of your employees, they feel reaffirmed that their efforts are helping the organization. This will increase engagement, will lead to fewer sick days, and will reduce tardiness.
6. It Improves the Customer Experience
If your workforce is happy, this will be reflected in conversations with your customers. When interacting with your customers, your employees will have an attitude and smile that reflects the positive values of your organization.
This means your customers will enjoy their interactions with your brand, meaning they’ll be more likely to continue doing business with you.
3 Types of Employee Recognition and How to Use Them Effectively
How you recognize employees within your organization is extremely important. Every employee will receive recognition differently depending on their personality type.
Some employees are more extroverted and are motivated by public praise, while other, more introverted employees may prefer a more private form of recognition.
After you determine the personality type of the employee, the next step is to determine the most effective way to recognize them. This may take some trial and error.
An employee that appears extroverted may prefer personal, one-on-one recognition. The only way to truly find out what works for a particular employee is to experiment a little bit.
With these things in mind, here are 3 types of employee recognition with examples of how to make effective use of them.
1. Peer-to-Peer Recognition
Peer-to-peer recognition is a form of recognition that comes from employees’ peers rather than from their managers. In other words, it’s recognition from the people they work with on their own level.
This type of recognition can be useful in improving the amount of recognition and feedback employees receive overall. Best of all, it comes from people they interact with the most, so it can be very meaningful for some people, particularly if they’re more introverted and value one-to-one relationships.
There are several benefits to this type of recognition:
- Oftentimes, team members will notice the efforts of their coworkers that managers don’t have the opportunity to see or may too easily overlook.
- When employees feel a sense of belonging at work, they’re much more likely to feel empowered and will perform much better.
- Implementing peer-to-peer recognition can make employees feel like a valued member of the team, which promotes a sense of belonging within your company.
Here are some ways you can implement this within your organization:
- Start social media groups where employees can post when they see a coworker doing a great job.
- Implement a point-based system that allows employees to earn rewards when they receive positive feedback from a coworker.
- Hold team-building events where employees get a chance to bond and build friendships with one another.
In addition to implementing this into your organization so your employees take notice, it’s also important to involve your leadership team.
You can do this in the following ways:
- Encourage management to lead by example by recognizing employees themselves. Your workforce will follow their lead.
- Enable your management team to immediately reward employees who have been recognized by a coworker.
- Allow your management team to reward employees who are constantly recognizing the performance of their coworkers.
2. Team Leader to Team Member Recognition
Receiving recognition from a team leader is a great way to give employees validation that their work is being noticed and that they’re a valued part of their team.
There are several benefits to this type of recognition:
- Employees whose supervisors regularly recognize them are more likely to stay in their current job.
- When leaders recognize one of their team members, these team members are more likely to believe that their leader is an advocate for their success.
- Employees who feel valued by their supervisors are more likely to pay it forward and recognize the performance of their coworkers. This means that this kind of recognition has compounding effects.
Here’s how you can implement this type of recognition within your organization:
- Enable your leadership team to quickly and effectively recognize and reward team members for their efforts.
- Implement an employee recognition program where your employees can be regularly and publicly recognized by their supervisors.
- In addition to giving rewards for larger achievements, encourage team leaders to give verbal praise for smaller accomplishments that may occur every day.
3. Employer-to-Employees Recognition
Recognition from upper management gives employees an increased feeling that they belong and that their role within the organization is important.
Here are some of the benefits of this type of recognition:
- Impressing a superior at this level increases the feeling of job security, and if employees feel secure at work, they’re more likely to be loyal to the company in return.
- By recognizing group efforts, teams will feel a stronger bond and will work together more effectively.
- When upper management recognizes the efforts of regular employees, these employees don’t simply feel like a number on a spreadsheet.
Here’s how to implement this type of recognition within your organization:
- Recognize team accomplishments, including the completion of projects, specific goal achievements, and consistent performance. Make sure the entire team is included in this recognition so they can celebrate and bond together.
- Hold regular events and celebrations to publicly celebrate and recognize various contributions to your company. These celebrations can include things like employee-of-the-month awards, company outings, or team spotlights.
- If an employee hits a company anniversary or milestone, celebrate this. They’ll feel like they’re part of a family.
There you have it – everything you need to know about employee recognition, its benefits, and how to effectively implement different recognition types within your organization.
By recognizing the efforts and achievements of your employees, you’re likely to experience a boost in the quality of output among your workforce.
Have you found an effective way to recognize the efforts of your team? Let me know in the comments!