How do you rate your skills in employee recognition, and would you say you know how to recognize employees?
Just like every other skill, employee recognition is an art you need to learn, practice, and perfect.
If we are being honest, a large percentage of top businesses today owe their success to their employees.
This is because you can be full of ideas, passion, and hard work, but you are only as good as the people you work with.
That is why employing the right people for your business is very essential.
Hence, when you get the right talents and they start living up to expectations, it’s a source of joy to a business owner.
However, you need to do more than just feel joy and satisfaction with the work your employees are doing.
There is something else you are under obligation to do, should you want to keep the same high level of productivity up.
And that is recognizing your employees.
A failure to recognize employees through appreciation and rewards can actually dampen their spirits.
And it might be hard to sustain the good results and efforts they rake in when there is no recognition.
On the other hand, employees who are adequately recognized have proven to be happier and more satisfied with their jobs.
They also find more job stability because of this experience.
Additionally, such employees have the much-needed impetus to contribute more to the organization and have increased engagement.
Employee recognition can also have a ripple effect around the workplace, as this can encourage those not performing at the best level to also get up to speed.
In other words, you can see recognition as an incentive that could also motivate employees to get results.
What It Means to Recognize Employees
Employee recognition refers to the acknowledgment of employees by their organization for their behaviors, results, contributions, and accomplishments.
This is often done by way of appreciation for those employees or sometimes in form of rewards for them.
Recognizing employees is equally an objective judgment of the work the employees are doing for your business.
Employees are deemed worthy of recognition and rewards when they either meet up with set expectations or exceed them.
As an organization, you probably have values and business goals, which you expect employees to live up to.
When you notice individuals making efforts to align their attitude and work ethic towards this, they deserve recognition.
The style used by employees in showing this recognition varies though, depending on individual employers and management.
Some are given informally, while others are done in a formal setting.
You can also recognize your employees as individuals or as a group, depending on how the results came about.
If a particular employee is renowned for excellent performance and value addition, then such an individual should be recognized.
On the other hand, if a team or department in your company is the one showing these accomplishments, then the recognition can be a general one.
Additionally, there are also varying mediums you can use in expressing appreciation as a form of recognition to employees.
While some would prefer this done privately, others might appreciate public recognition before their peers more.
This is where the work lies for you as the employer or manager, to know the preferences of individual employees.
Only when you know this can you use the right style, medium, and approach to recognize your employees.
Why Employers Must Recognize Employees
As an employer, it might be easy for you to neglect the need to recognize your employees.
Besides, employees are workers, hired to do a job and get paid for it.
Therefore, there is the tendency of feeling that it is unnecessary to praise, appreciate or even reward employees for their contributions and achievements.
After all, you might believe that their salary at the end of the month is enough compensation or reward for their hard work.
Well, if you are paying your staff well for their services, you surely deserve commendation.
However, this does not in any way negate or discredit the importance of employee recognition.
As a matter of fact, monetary rewards also count as recognition for employees, so you can say they work hand in hand.
That being said, here are some benefits your business stand to enjoy when you recognize employees:
It’s a Way to Incentivize Employees
What should make up the right incentives for employees is usually a source of worry for many business owners.
You might also be wondering how to incentivize employees without having to spend too much.
Well, it would interest you to know that recognizing your employees, even non-monetarily can serve as an incentive.
Employees are more motivated to work and give their best when they know that they would be appreciated for their contributions.
On the other hand, if you as an employer do not show appreciation for your employees or brush aside their achievements, it can kill their morale.
You might even find that they would no longer have the drive to do as much as they used to because the management doesn’t care (or so it appears).
It Increases Employees’ Performance and Productivity
One beautiful thing with employees is that when they know they are appreciated, they show it in their work.
As the recognition of employees makes them motivated, this motivation in turn will increase their performance and productivity.
This is because they want to repeat or even surpass what they did and got recognition for.
Hence, there would be a corresponding increase in their performance and the results they can get.
Improve your Chances at Employees’ Retention
When you talk about non-monetary factors that contribute to employee retention, employees’ recognition ranks highly among them.
Aside from the money, one of the main things your employees look for in your organization is the feeling of belonging and appreciation.
Therefore, when you regularly appreciate your employees and praise their input and output, they would fall in love with you.
They will also enjoy working for the organization.
Hence, these employees will likely stick with your company and not go around looking for other options.
The reverse is the case where employees are not recognized.
In such cases, the employees would jump on any opportunity to switch allegiance to another organization.
It Strengthens Employees’ Relationships
Another benefit that comes with recognizing employees is that it helps to strengthen the relationship between employees.
There is a type of recognition known as peer to peer recognition.
This form of employee recognition allows fellow workers to rate their colleagues and recommend them for recognition and awards.
It has proven to be a great platform to help employees show how much they value the input of their team members.
And this has in turn helped to improve the relationship between them.
Of course, when you also recognize your employees, it strengthens the relationship between employees and management.
It Contributes to Customer Satisfaction
Recognized employees are generally happy and satisfied employees, and this is reflected in the customers.
Because your employees are interacting with your customer most of the time, they can influence customer satisfaction.
When you regularly appreciate and recognize employees, they improve in their service to your customers.
They treat customers with kindness and loving care, and customers are drawn to those kinds of people.
Eventually, what really matters to your customers is not your products, but rather their experience with the customer service.
And with recognized employees, you are covered in this area.
It Makes the Prospect of Working With You Desirable to Ambitious Job Seekers
Let’s face it, no ambitious individual desires to work for an organization that does not recognize her employees.
The best prospective employees out there are always looking out for job opportunities that will make them grow.
And that involves working for organizations that acknowledge their contributions and encourage them to do better.
If you make employee recognition top of your priority list, you are sure going to increase your power to attract the best employees.
Yes, top talents will want to work with you.
Disadvantages of Failing to Recognize Employees
Employee recognition is not something a business owner or manager should neglect or leave for later.
As soon as your business is set up, one of the first things you should do is develop a system for employee recognition.
However, if you fail to make recognizing employees a practice, here are some negative effects of that:
Unhappy and Dissatisfied Employees
One of the demerits of failing to recognize your employees is that they tend to be unhappy and dissatisfied.
This lack of satisfaction stems from not having the personal fulfillment that comes from knowing they are doing great.
A lack of appreciation would make the employee dissatisfied with themselves and also with their job.
And this would show all over them.
A Drop in Productivity
To stay productive, employees need the drive that comes with recognition.
When they are not recognized, there is a tendency of slowing down in their work input and performance.
And this in turn would adversely affect their productivity.
Low Employee Morale
It is this that evidently affects the drop in productivity noted above.
Employees that are not appreciated or recognized often lose the zeal and passion for work.
And this is what counts as low morale or lack of motivation on the part of the employees.
Poor Work Culture
A lack of appreciation for employees can also cause poor work culture and working conditions in your organization.
The attitude of workers around the organization would be distasteful.
This might even start with just one unhappy employee, and before long the bad attitude can spread across your entire office.
Unhealthy Relationship Between Employees and Management
Failure to recognize employees also works against teamwork and active collaboration in the workplace.
And because of this, there could be poor working and interpersonal relationships between your employees.
Not only that, but the relationship they have with the management of the organization also suffers.
This is because they don’t feel valued.
Lack of Trust in the Employer
An employer or business owner who fails to recognize employees comes off as a selfish employer.
The employees would start seeing you as someone who wants to take all the glory for yourself.
It becomes a general feeling that you just want to use them to get ahead and not acknowledge their contributions.
Because of that, they would gradually lose their trust and confidence in you as a leader.
Increased Absenteeism from Work
Another negative effect of not recognizing your employees is that their lack of motivation can result in absenteeism.
These employees would no longer have the drive to come to work every day, and their absence becomes more frequent.
They might also start taking a lot of sick leave, all in a bid to avoid work.
This is because, in their mind, there is no point giving your all for an organization that would not appreciate you.
Loss of Employees
A lack of appreciation for employees might also result in the dreaded loss of top talents.
Of course, not all losses of employees are bad, as some are done for the best.
Especially when those employees are underperforming or are not adding value.
However, when you have to lose your best employees because you do not give them due recognition, that is not a good sign.
It can really affect your operations and also upset the successful growth and development of your business.
How to Recognize Employees – Practical Steps to Follow
One of the reasons why some organizations avoid employee recognition is because there is a belief that it is expensive to implement.
In this section, you will see many other cost-effective ways of recognizing employees, which would still yield the expected results.
Here are a few of them:
Create a System for Employee Recognition
The first step to take towards employee recognition is creating a system for this.
It is during this process that you decide what counts as accomplishments for employees, and what to recognize.
This would help employees to know what metrics to work on.
And also prevent hard feelings from others when some are recognized.
You would also itemize the different modes of recognition that can be used for your employees.
The budget for this aspect of management would also be prepared and reviewed.
With that done, you are setting your employee recognition program up for success.
Understand the Individual Preferences of your Employees
For your choice of recognition for employees to be effective, you must understand the individual preferences of employees.
When it comes to receiving recognition, the way and manner it should be presented should vary depending on the individuals.
Some individuals prefer receiving recognition in public, where their co-workers and even customers might see this.
Others on the other hand prefer being recognized in private, away from the attention of other people.
It doesn’t matter which one an employee prefers, as long as the aim of the recognition is not defeated.
Hence, it would be fine to sit down with an employee deserving recognition first and learn what his/her preferences are.
Give Words of Appreciation to Employees
Words of appreciation are one of the most inexpensive yet effective means of employee recognition.
These can be given either formally or informally.
For formal appreciation, you can call a closed-door meeting with the exceptional employee and let them know how much you appreciate their contributions.
You can also send these words of appreciation to the employee as a mail.
Appreciation for employees can also be done informally, in that you commend your employees at any time when you see them doing well.
You can walk up to their desks and offer such soothing words of encouragement or give them to the entire team in the office when warranted.
This has also proven to be an effective way to recognize employees.
Give Shout-Outs Within The Office Environment and Office Groups
When you are sure that the particular employee you want to recognize is comfortable with public recognition, shout-outs are also beneficial.
You can offer a public acknowledgment of an outstanding employee in a staff meeting or gathering.
It’s a great way to recognize and reward individual employees whose performances have been found exceptional.
In addition to that, it also serves as a source of motivation and encouragement to other team members.
Practice Peer-Peer Recognition Method
It is very easy to focus on recognition on the managerial level, which is quite important on its own.
However, you are more likely to get better success at recognizing employees when you do let everyone be involved in this process.
Give your team the liberty and opportunity to recognize their peers for their fine contributions.
This can be done by allowing them to make nominations for awards and recognition, such as an employee of the week/month award.
If you are also giving a card to an employee as a way of appreciating them, you can get their colleagues to sign it.
This vote of confidence and support foster a good team spirit and encourage collaboration.
Be Specific with Commendations
It is all too common for employers to simply say a “Thank You”, “Good Job” or “Well-done” as a form of commendation to employees.
While this can suffice during informal appreciation, it is often beneficial to be more specific with formal appreciation.
Being specific involves mentioning the areas in which the individual employee or team of employees are doing great.
This is more authentic and has a greater impact on the acceptance of the recognition by the employee(s).
Be Sincere and Authentic with Recognition
Because of the benefits that come from employee recognition, there might be the temptation to want to do it for the gain.
When this is the motive, you might be offering appreciation and commendation just to keep employees’ morale high and not because they deserve it.
It is important that you avoid this trap as an employer.
Your employees know the difference between sincere commendations and flattery.
And when you flatter employees, it has more negative impact than a positive one.
Their performance levels might even drop because at the end of the day they will get recognized for doing next to nothing.
Hence, your recognition of employees must be sincere and authentic.
It speaks well of your motive for rewards, and also meets the objective for it.
Be Consistent with Employee Recognition
Another key to a successful employee recognition program is consistency.
It would not speak well of your leadership skills if you are hot in recognition at one point and cold at other times.
Your employees need to be certain that the system of recognition you’ve created would thrive and endure.
When you are consistent in your efforts to recognize employees, they are more willing and encouraged to give their best.
Because the recognition and rewards are sure to come.
Reward Employees with Promotions
Job promotion is another very effective way to recognize employees for their performance and accomplishments.
Getting promotions at work is a big deal for a lot of employees, and it is not hard to see why.
For them, it shows that they are adding value to the organization they work for, and it’s also a form of personal growth for them.
Hence, while carrying out employee recognition, it is important to give them opportunities to climb the ladder in the company.
This should also come with new job titles and designations, as it would boost the morale of employees.
Give Awards and Certificates to Employees
Another form of employee recognition is the giving out of awards and certificates of recognition to employees.
Many organizations plan this for the end of the year.
Different areas of performance are awarded as gifts to employees, using the metrics gathered throughout the year.
You can make trophies, frames, certificates, plaques, medals e.t.c.
These awards serve as tangible and physical rewards that your employees can always reference.
And it gives them and their family members the satisfaction of knowing that they are making contributions at work and appreciated for it.
Recognize Employees on Social Media
A shout-out on social media is another way to recognize your employees publicly.
But of course, you can only do this when the employee(s) have shown their satisfaction with public recognition.
You can post their pictures and details about their achievements on your social media handle as part of an “Employee of the Week” program.
This would show the customers and general public how much of an asset they are to the organization.
And it would also motivate the employees in question.
Arrange for Parties, Hangouts, and Social Events
Sometimes, the way you recognize your employees is by hosting them at a party or hangout.
This is most effective for group or team recognition.
It is a way to have leisure activities outside of work.
And also show the employees how much their work is appreciated.
Also, it offers a great opportunity for team bonding.
Monetary Rewards are Also Welcomed
A lot of employees also appreciated cash rewards as a form of recognition for their achievements and contributions.
Although to implement this, you need to be sure your budget allocation makes room for it.
This way it wouldn’t adversely affect your finances.
You can offer sales commissions, profit sharing, bonuses, or shopping vouchers e.t.c. to your employees.
Additionally, you can also give them a pay rise in accord with your company’s payment structure as appreciation for a job well done.
If your business can afford cash rewards, do not hesitate to use them also.
In Conclusion – How to Recognize Employees
When you recognize your employees, you motivate them to do better, and also keep them engaged with your organization.
This motivation, commitment, and engagement would in turn increase your chances of keeping your best hands.
You will employ the best employees, and they will help your business grow in leaps and bounds.
Therefore, the least you can do is recognize their achievements, accomplishments, and contributions.
It’s a win-win situation for you and your workforce.