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HomeResourceEmployee Recognition: Why It’s Important, and How to Do It Right

Employee Recognition: Why It’s Important, and How to Do It Right

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Are your employees engaged with their work? There’s a good chance they’re not. Only 36 percent of American workers report feeling engaged with their work, and 15 percent say they’re actively disengaged. Those are some scary numbers for anyone trying to run a company.

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Employee recognition is so important for keeping up employee engagement, retaining the best employees, and encouraging workers to perform to the best of their abilities. Properly implemented, employee recognition can increase your employees’ feelings of engagement at work and make them more committed to the company. Here’s why recognition is so meaningful to employees, and how you can do it right.

Appreciation Can Mean More than Money to Your Employees

Don’t get us wrong – rewarding employees with cash bonuses and merit raises certainly has its place, and you shouldn’t be relying solely on gratitude to keep your employees around. Employees will definitely leave for a job that offers more money, so you should be prepared to offer a fair salary.

But money isn’t the only thing people need to feel good about their work. Appreciation is very important, too. It makes people feel good about themselves and about what they’re doing. Appreciation makes people feel valued, seen, and liked. Receiving recognition at work can make your work feel more meaningful and important. It can deepen connections between team members and help employees stay focused on the positive at work.

Employees feel the absence of appreciation, too. When employees don’t feel like their hard work is acknowledged or maybe even noticed, then what feedback they do get has a more negative cast to it. Even if the acknowledgement or feedback is neutral, they might perceive it as negative. Feeling under-recognized can quickly drive an employee away from your organization. Seventy-nine percent of people who quit their jobs around the world do so because of a lack of recognition. Only 12 percent leave their jobs to earn more money.

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How to Recognize Your Employees’ Efforts

To get the most benefit from an employee recognition program, don’t make recognition something you hand out sparingly to your top performers only once a year, at review time. Be generous with your praise, and make sure to find something about everyone that you can appreciate. Sure, your top performers do deserve praise, but other employees bring their own virtues to the table. Some employees may be slower workers, but they never call out sick and have great attendance, for example. Everyone deserves to be recognized for whatever it is they contribute.

Employee Recognition

You shouldn’t wait to hand out recognition, either. Say “thanks” or “good job” as soon as the person has done the praiseworthy behavior. That way, they’ll understand exactly what it is they’re being praised for, and that will help them know what kind of behavior they should be repeating. But it also prevents them from sitting around and stewing about how all their efforts are ignored, or falling into the trap of thinking that since no one notices what they do anything, they might as well put in less effort.

Recognizing employees doesn’t need to be a big, extravagant, or expensive thing – at least, not all of the time. Saying “good morning” when you greet employees for the day, thanking them when they do something for you, and telling them “well done” when they’ve done a good job can really do a lot to make most people feel appreciated.

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You should also work some more tangible expressions of gratitude into your employee recognition program. Recognize top performers with yearly bonuses, for example, or reward employees with cash when they have been through a particularly challenging period, like a crunch time. Make employee anniversary recognition a part of your employee recognition program, too. Give rewards that encourage employees to stay with the company longer – for example, you could give employees more paid time off for each year they stay with the company.

Recognize employees’ work anniversaries and their personal milestones, like birthdays or the births of children. Tokens of appreciation don’t need to be elaborate or expensive. Offer small gifts to show that you care about your employees for who they are as people, and not just for their role in your company. You could reward employees with movie tickets, scratch-off lottery tickets, restaurant gift cards, or small recognition gifts.

Employee recognition is such a valuable tool for keeping employees happy in their jobs. Give your workers the praise and appreciation they need, and keep them feeling good about themselves, their jobs, and your company.

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