How recognising your most important asset can help your workplace thrive

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We’ve said this previously in other posts, but in order to retain your people, you must be able to show them that you respect them, appreciate them, and recognise them for their contribution to your business. This, in turn, will lead to higher levels of employee engagement, increased productivity, and will ideally help create a more positive overall environment whether your teams are co-located, remote, or working in a hybrid arrangement. 

It’s ultimately the responsibility of the senior leadership within the organisation to send a clear message to everyone across the business that what they are doing really matters.

This could be through implementing a formal reward and recognition program, or simply by spontaneously acknowledging a job well done. 

Think back to a time in your career when you felt appreciated, when you had your work praised in front of your peers, or when you were acknowledged or recognised privately for exceeding a target, blitzing a goal, or displaying the company’s values. How did it make you feel personally? More importantly, how motivated and connected did it make you feel towards the organisation? 

If you’re going to hang on to your employees, they need to feel appreciated. 

When an individual employee or a team feels their contribution is valued by others (particularly their leaders), their satisfaction increases, they will feel a sense of accomplishment, and your workplace will thrive. And that’s the type of environment you want, right? 

While a formal rewards and recognition program can certainly help increase motivation and encourage friendly competition and healthy (professional) rivalry in the workplace, depending on the size of the organisation or the team, it can also create quite a bit of extra work particularly for business owners or managers who already have a full plate. Besides, the results from formal programs can often take a few quarters to become truly effective.

With this in mind, unless you have a dedicated internal resource who can scope, implement and administer the program, you might be better off avoiding a formal program and instead focusing more on providing ongoing feedback and regularly acknowledging people’s contribution both publicly and privately. 

Your employees need to know that the effort they are putting into their job is worth it.  

There’s no doubt that offering a competitive salary will help them feel like their effort and contribution is valued. However, money certainly isn’t everyone’s main motivator – especially when it comes to the desire to go above and beyond and this is when appreciation and recognition kick in. It’s important for managers and employees to be able to clearly distinguish between compensation (salary, commission, bonus etc) and any form of reward given as a token of appreciation for outstanding effort or in recognition for achieving a milestone (e.g. a particular work anniversary). The lines should never be blurred. 

Any form of recognition (whether delivered in front of the team or in a one-to-one setting) needs to be genuine and should never come across as if you are simply ticking a box. More importantly, the timing of any recognition is key. In the same way that an employee doesn’t want to be told in December that a client shared some negative feedback about them back in July, an employee also doesn’t want to be thanked weeks or perhaps even months after exceeding a goal.

Recognition needs to happen when the achievement is top of mind for both the employer and the employee. Otherwise, it could come across as fake or as more of an apology for an oversight at the time. 

Research states that over 80% of employees would prefer to receive praise than some form of cheesy gift.

Whether you share the ‘shout out’ over an internal group chat, in a weekly all-hands, during a team WIP meeting, or in the office at your employee’s desk is entirely up to you and will obviously depend on your set-up. Having said that, if for example you are recognising a significant work anniversary, then the employee would probably appreciate a bit more than a ‘thank you’ message over Slack and might even expect a reasonable gift voucher or hamper perhaps along with a day in lieu. Even if you need to celebrate the milestone remotely, it should be a meaningful and memorable moment for everyone. 

Many leaders (and organisations) will use the terms ‘reward’ and ‘recognition’ interchangeably.

There are some fairly distinct differences, but at the end of the day, there cannot be a reward without the recognition. Rewards are typically transactional and even when given with the best of intentions might be perceived as somewhat impersonal. On the other hand, recognition, whilst often unexpected, can certainly be more spontaneous, and is usually perceived as more personal and unconditional.

In many situations, the psychological effect of spontaneous recognition can, in fact, have a more positive long-term impact on engagement and motivation than the potential financial benefit associated with a more tangible reward. 

Research also shows that when you focus on recognising your employees, not only can you expect to see a boost in productivity, but you will also notice an improvement in customer satisfaction. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how a positive employee experience can have a direct impact on customer experience and customer loyalty. 

Do you think your employees feel valued and respected? Or could they be feeling ignored or disrespected?  

One of the most common reasons people choose to leave their job is because they don’t feel appreciated, and this can have a major financial impact on any business. 

It’s the sole responsibility of the leadership team to ensure their employees are satisfied in their work environment and with what they are doing in their work. When people feel appreciated, individual engagement levels increase along with loyalty and commitment towards their leader and the overall organisation. And you almost can’t put a price on the positive effect this then has on the overall culture and, in turn, staff retention. 

Remember hellomonday provides coaching and support to leaders at all levels; prioritising development initiatives that result in long-term sustained learning and change; and reinforcing habits through curated learning and impactful coaching. 

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