Organizational Culture

Beyond Basic Recognition: A Comprehensive Guide to Employee Appreciation for Leaders

As a leader, you may wonder where employee recognition belongs on your list of priorities. It turns out that it may be even more important than you think. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 79% of employees say recognition makes them work harder.

Unfortunately, much of that potential may be going to waste. A Gallup poll found that only one in three workers in the U.S. say they recently received recognition or praise for doing good work,

Letting employees know that they make a difference is an essential part of leadership. Study this quick guide to creating a strong culture of recognition.

Benefits of Employee Recognition Programs:

  1. Reduce turnover. Revolving workforces increase the costs of hiring and training and cut into profits. High performers are more likely to stick around if they feel valued and appreciated.

  2. Build morale. Keep your employees satisfied and boost their confidence. Even a simple compliment can increase motivation and teamwork.

  3. Promote wellbeing. A study by the American Psychological Association confirms what you might expect. Being valued at work leads to greater physical and mental health and makes employees happier off the job too.

  4. Stay within your budget. While monetary rewards are desirable, many forms of recognition cost very little in relation to their impact. It’s a great opportunity for you and your employees.

Strategies for Employee Recognition Programs:

  1. Identify preferences. Recognition needs to be customized for individual needs. For example, some workers will like being in the spotlight while others want to be thanked privately.

  2. Be specific. It’s important to do more than tell someone they’re doing a nice job. Detailed feedback sounds more sincere. It also provides guidance for the rest of the staff about your company’s values and priorities.

  3. Praise often. Science suggests that recognition needs to be frequent. The SHRM survey found that when recognized in the last month, 82% of employees said they trusted senior leaders, compared to only 48% of employees who were not recognized in the past month.

  4. Spread it around. Praise can come from supervisors, as well as many other sources. Encourage peers to support each other. Pay attention to what stakeholders have to say. Even a brief interaction with the CEO, Chief, city council, or board can be exciting too.

  5. Plan events. If much of your staff likes public acclaim, start an employee of the month program. You could also host an annual awards dinner for top performers.

  6. Write notes. Give someone a tangible token of your regard. Print out certificates or hand-write a thank you letter. Digital messages count too.

  7. Hand out treats. Surprise your team with items like food and company swag. Technology items and drinkware are usually popular.

    Upgrade your review process. Are your performance reviews fair? Do they give employees feedback that they can put into action? If you’re unsure, speak with a consultant or browse for software that can help.

  8. Provide advancement opportunities. Let employees know what they need to do to be considered for promotions or taking on more responsibility. Keep track of activities that demonstrate initiative and innovation.

  9. Reward performance. Keep your recognition program focused on achievements. Design metrics for quantifying each employee’s work. That might mean the number of sales made or white papers written.

  10. Encourage pride. Remember that recognition programs involve extrinsic motivation that can reinforce an individual’s positive attitude. Create a healthy and inclusive culture where each employee feels that they can belong and contribute.

Use your leadership to help make others feel valued and appreciated. Employee recognition is an effective and efficient way to foster individual well-being and workplace success.

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