When was the last time you gave feedback to one of your direct reports? I’m not talking about your standard mid-year and end-of-year reviews, but about spontaneous recognition of a job well done?
According to Gallup, only 1 in 3 workers believe they’ve received recognition or praise in the last week. Why does this statistic matter? Because the more you make employee recognition a perfunctory management exercise, the more your employees feel unappreciated.
Our advisors here at Software Advice talk to thousands of prospective HR software buyers every year, yet less than 1% of buyers during this past year mentioned an interest in tools that can help them structure or facilitate employee recognition efforts.
Let me break the news to you: Unless you acknowledge the importance of employee recognition now, your level of turnover will soar. Read on to learn about the benefits of employee recognition and your next steps.
What is employee recognition?
Employee recognition is the act of giving workers informal and/or formal acknowledgment of their achievements, effort, performance, and behavior that contribute to your business’s goals and values.
The important part of employee recognition is its objective, which is twofold:
- Everyone likes to hear that they’re appreciated. Employee recognition provides a sense of accomplishment and motivates staff to maintain and advance their efforts within their organization.
- This motivation drives business results. Being honest about how employees have contributed to valuable outcomes is a powerful way to help them understand and reinforce the actions that led to them.
Why is employee recognition important? Let me count the ways
Employee recognition is more than just a pat on the back every now and again; It’s not doling out gold stars for employees who complete tasks on time. It’s about zooming in on the bigger picture of goals and profit, and focusing on the people who make these achievable.
Good leaders will recognize that employee recognition provides reciprocal benefits. Employee recognition is a vital part of every successful business, and here’s three of the main reasons why:
- Lowers turnover rates. Turnover happens when people don’t have job satisfaction, and job dissatisfaction happens when employees feel like they’re taken for granted. Nine out of ten people would rather earn less money in return for more meaningful work—showing them that their contribution is valuable will help you retain your employees.
- Improves company culture. When you let your employees know that their hard work is appreciated, they’re likely to feel more committed to your workplace and its goals—which builds reciprocal trust. When employees know that their contributions not only make a difference, but are appreciated, they’ll strive to collaborate to achieve results.
- Increases employee productivity. Tying recognition to specific behaviors and accomplishments helps your employees understand exactly what you’re looking for, and helps them focus on what actions are productive for you.
How often should you give employees recognition?
According to Gartner, employee recognition that’s delivered on an “infrequent, exclusive, and set schedule (e.g. annual) will have limited sustained impact” (full content, “Use Recognition and Reward Programs to Boost HR and Talent Effectiveness“, available to clients).
Effectively, employee recognition should be built into the way you think as a manager. You should recognize that the whole isn’t always greater than the sum of its parts. Whether you’re preparing for one-to-ones, team meetings, or reviewing progress on a project, you should be thinking about all the employee contributions that have been integral to recent successes or improvements.
Consultants at Gallup believe that employee recognition should generally be given weekly—the more timely the recognition, the more employees will value the importance of their accomplishments.
Gartner also recommends the following ways to embed more frequent employee recognition in your organization:
- Move from static annual/mid-year performance management and evaluation sessions to more of a continuous performance management cycle. Put simply: Engage in employee recognition more frequently.
- Use an HCM system or talent management system to capture ad hoc praise, feedback and recognition—this gives both you and your employee a log of progress and ability to recall highlights throughout the year.
- Link performance management to learning management systems—by integrating learning and recognition, you’ll be able to effectively track employee progress.
What are some tips for giving employees recognition?
Employee recognition is not—and should not—be a one-size-fits-all exercise. How, when, what, and why you give feedback will depend on your industry, business goals, and company culture.
However, there are a few tips that should apply to many, if not all managers.
1. Be laser specific about what you’re giving praise for. It’s no good telling your employee that they did a “great job” on a recent project. This generic kind of feedback tells them nothing about what exactly was great about their contribution.
Tie your recognition to exactly what they did that made their contribution so great. Perhaps they took initiative and involved another department to prevent a bottleneck, or maybe they delivered an extra report that would help you better evaluate the project’s outcome.
2. Don’t give recognition for the sake of giving recognition—make it meaningful. While this might sound like contradictory advice, it’s important to avoid patronizing your employees, as this will have the opposite effect of what you’re trying to achieve. If you praise them for something they’ve been doing well (and as a part of their usual role) for the last two years, the recognition is likely to sound insincere—and like you can’t think of anything else to praise them for!
3. Vary the methods of giving recognition. If, out of the blue, you start every one-to-one meeting with a token piece of praise, you’re going to sound mechanical and as if you’re reading from a script. Drop them an email after they’ve accomplished or exceeded a goal, forward them an email from another colleague that mentions their contribution, or ping them a message now and then via your collaboration tool. Mix it up a bit!
Want to learn more about the importance of employee recognition and how to implement your own recognition program?
Well, stay tuned folks: This is the first in our series on employee recognition initiatives. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be showing you:
- Further tips, ideas, and best practices for employee recognition
- How to set-up a unique employee recognition program for your organization
- Employee recognition case-studies for inspiration.
If you’re eager to know more now about how software can help support your employee recognition efforts, give us a call now on (844) 675-2849. Our expert software advisors offer a free 15-minute phone consultation to give you a full assessment and product recommendations for your business needs.