Tips for the Right Way to Use Employee Recognition


Recently, companies have increased the use of employee recognition programs as a means to positively impact employee morale and help improve workforce engagement. Also, these programs increase productivity and prevent increasing turnover rates by creating a better environment for the staff.

But employee recognition programs should go beyond literally just telling your employees they’ve done a great job. Gallup’s research showed that recognition is best when it is honest, sincere and, most of all, all about the worker as an individual.

Line graph. U.S. employee engagement rises to 34%.

Why you should recognize employees

Most people will tell you they value happiness. The reality is, businesses often adopt a production-for-pay model. In other words, you pay a salary, and the workforce produces. But a new study by the University of Warwick looked at happiness and productivity, and its relationship to each other when it comes to the workplace.

They found that happy employees are 12 percent more productive. One underlying element of employee happiness is when managers recognize their employees for excellent work; praise for a great job makes employees want to work harder and produce more.

Gallup’s recent survey found that 34 percent of workers feel appreciated and engaged. It said 13 percent of workers are actively disengaged at work. The remaining 53 percent are not engaged. This means that most workers are not involved in their jobs. They are showing up at work and doing the minimum required to earn their pay.

Correlate this to studies that found 34 percent of decision-makers in workplaces do not think recognition has an impact on employee retention. However, almost 70 percent of workers are looking for other jobs.

This is a lose-lose situation for you. Losing workers to other companies is expensive: production is down while you spend time looking for a replacement. You stand to lose as much as 42 days of productivity, plus the cost of advertising and training once you fill the vacated position.

The same study found that companies with recognition programs have more loyal workforces; in fact, 10 percent higher than other firms. They are also 21 percent more profitable and 20 percent more productive.

Recognition in the workplace

The numbers say it all. Recognition programs keep employees, which, in turn, increase productivity and profits. But for recognition programs to be successful, it would require both manager and environmental support. Gallup’s research found manager recognition is a major mover in increasing employee engagement.

The person who has the most significant effect on an employee’s day is their direct supervisor or manager. Employees often do not leave companies; they will leave managers who do not appreciate the hard work they do.

Creating a culture of recognition within the workplace, especially if management-driven, will go a long way in increasing productivity and engagement in your business.

Tips on how to use employee recognition

Recognition programs are the best way to increase employee engagement. But they can fail if not done right. Workers know when something is not sincere. You can achieve measurable success with strategic and creative corporate recognition strategies. Here are some tips on how to use employee recognition in the workplace.

  • Find a way to connect with the workers. Know them by name. Use their first names when talking to them. Employees who feel superiors see them as people will be more engaged in their work.
  • Make sure the whole team knows they are doing a great job. Public announcements recognizing employees is a great way to make them feel special. And many times, this is all they need. But rewards can be a good motivation, too.
  • Choose and train the right managers. Recognition starts at the top. Choose managers who show the right skill set for engaging employees. Train supervisors on how to recognize workers, and hold managers responsible for employee engagement.

A strong culture of appreciation benefits your employees, your managers and the company. Great recognition programs result in more engaged employees. Productivity will go up because employees will care if they know they are recognized for their efforts.

Profits will increase, and customer service will get better because employees are happy with their jobs. That’s a win for you and your company.

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