Employee recognition is a crucial part of keeping your team motivated. The right kind of recognition can help your employees feel appreciated, valued, and encouraged to do even better. Organizations that prioritize employee recognition have employees who are 56% less likely to look for another job. But, what steps can you take to achieve these goals?
Below, find eight tips for improving your company's recognition efforts to help your employees feel appreciated for making your organization’s mission come to life.
1. Create a Workplace Culture of Recognition
When you make it clear to everyone in your organization that recognition is valued and encouraged, you're building a stronger connection between the people who work there. When people feel comfortable recognizing each other, they feel more connected to their team, and they take more pride in what they do.
First, you need to make recognition an everyday part of your management style and get your leadership team on board. When people know that recognition is valued and appreciated by management, they are more likely to seek it out themselves from coworkers and other leaders throughout the company.
2. Keep Track of Employee Accomplishments
Keep track of achievements, both big and small, so you can take note of when an employee has particularly excelled or gone above and beyond the call of duty. By doing this, you'll be able to keep a record of each employee's contributions and know what they like to do at work, giving them opportunities that will let them shine.
3. Have an Open Door Policy
When you're busy managing your employees and keeping the company up and running, it can be easy to lose sight of their individual needs. It's important not to forget that they're human beings with feelings and problems, just like anyone else.
Creating a culture where they feel comfortable enough to bring those issues to you is an important part of building a happy workplace.
Part of creating a culture of recognition is having an open door policy. This way, if someone has a question about how something works or is going wrong, they don't have to wait for you to be free — they can come right in and speak with you directly.
Allowing this type of immediate access shows employees that you care about them as individuals and are interested in their feedback as the leader of their team.
4. Use Financial Incentives
Incentives can be an effective way of improving employee recognition. For example, if you want your employees to work harder, you might offer them a bonus or commission for meeting certain targets. If you want them to be more productive, you might pay them more for each hour they work.
Financial incentives are particularly helpful when used in conjunction with other methods of employee recognition, such as public praise or personal gifts.
Consider using financial incentives to show your team how much you value them, whether it’s something large like a holiday bonus check or something smaller like a gift card.
5. Show Recognition in a Timely Manner
Having a delayed reaction to good performance can have an adverse effect on morale and productivity. When employees feel like their employers are recognizing their hard work, they are more likely to continue working at a high level.
If you wait too long to acknowledge an employee's contributions, they may feel like their efforts were unappreciated. If an employee doesn't receive any feedback for six months after doing something commendable, for example, they might think that nobody cares about their work or takes notice of their accomplishments (which isn't always the case).
6. Think About the Big Picture
Employee recognition isn't just about giving out gifts and celebrating birthdays. It's about making your team feel appreciated and valued. When your employees feel like what they contribute to your company is recognized and they belong, they’re going to be motivated to do their best. Research shows that employee recognition is associated with a 41% increase in retention. If you're not sure how to get started, think about what motivates your employees and what they value most at work.
Some people want more challenging assignments, others want to learn new skills or take on greater responsibility, and others want more flexibility in their schedules or a better work-life balance.
Employees want recognition, but they don’t want meaningless praise. Understanding each employee’s unique needs and perspectives will help you create a more nuanced culture of recognition within the workplace.
7. Offer Public Recognition
When you recognize someone privately or secretly, it doesn't always have the same impact as when others see it happen publicly.
Public recognition strengthens bonds between coworkers and creates a sense of community within teams; it also spreads motivating news throughout the company when someone’s actions offer notable progress toward a team’s mission or goal.
Consider creating an ongoing “awards” board where you post photos of employees who’ve done a great job, along with a description of what they did right and why it was important for the team as a whole.
If your organization is predominantly remote or distributed, consider adding a dedicated group channel on your company’s messaging platform where team members can share their appreciation and recognition for other team members.
A newsletter is another effective tool to offer public recognition, mentioning the successes of your team members throughout the last week, month, or quarter.
If you want to give a big boost to your employee recognition program, consider doing it in a public way. A public display of appreciation can be more powerful than a private one, but take each person’s unique preferences into consideration. Some employees may be more receptive to public praise than others. Some may prefer private recognition instead.
8. Be Genuine
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when learning how to give recognition to employees is to lack sincerity. If you don’t mean what you say or if you speak without authenticity, you'll lose the trust of your employees, and your recognition efforts will offer undesirable results.
Recognition can come in the form of bonuses or raises, but it can also be as simple as saying “thank you.” No matter what type of recognition you choose, make sure it is genuine and not just another task on your agenda.
Understanding the Nuance of Workplace Recognition
Creating a culture of recognition and appreciation is one of your most important jobs as a manager or HR representative. It's not about patting people on the back and giving them a gold star — it’s about helping your employees feel valued, appreciated, and motivated to do their best work.
Just like any other kind of recognition, employee recognition comes in many forms: praise, rewards, bonuses, promotions, time off, and more. You can implement these incentives individually or as a whole — there’s no one way to do it right, and creating a culture of recognition requires an ongoing, ever-evolving approach.