Why Employee Recognition Is So Important And How You Can Start Doing It

Employee Recognition

Employee recognition is an important part of company culture and should be practiced all year long, not just on days like ‘National Employee Appreciation Day’. Employee recognition is the timely, informal or formal acknowledgement of a person’s or team’s behaviour or effort that supports the organisation’s goals and values. When employees and their work are valued, their satisfaction and productivity increases, making them more motivated to maintain and/or improve their good performance.

The benefits of employee recognition

Individual performance → Increased productivity and satisfaction → Increased value to your organisation

Ros Toynbee, Director and Lead Coach at The Career Coach, tell us: If you’ve got good people working for you, good talent in the business, you need to recognise them and that needs to be part of the culture, every day. Recognition is important because employees need to know that they are on track with what they’re doing. Part of that is setting objectives for employees to work on and giving them feedback when they’ve achieved their goals.

‘Employees want to feel like they’re achieving something, they like to feel a sense of belonging within a team. There’s a direct link between praise, recognition, and levels of engagement in the workplace. When employees are praised for their work, they put in more energy and focus, and that in turn improves productivity and performance. When levels of engagement are low, people just turn up and go through the motions -- they’re disengaged, productivity drops, and in serious cases it can lead to low morale and employees leaving the company.’

Benefits:

  • Increased individual productivity
  • Greater employee satisfaction and enjoyment of work
  • Enhanced teamwork between employees
  • Low employee turnover
  • Lower negative effects such as absenteeism and stress

How employers should recognise employees

According to Ros, one the worst things a manager can do is withhold praise, thinking it might ‘swell employees’ heads’. She says: ‘Having coached leaders for 16 years, I often ask the question, ‘’How do you recognise your people?’’, and the response I get is ‘’Well, they should know when they’re doing a good job, they shouldn’t need me to tell them’’. The reality is, when employers don’t praise their employees their confidence drops and they question whether they have value.’

In a recent article, Assistant Professor, Ashley Whillans from the Harvard Business School, said: ‘What employees crave even more is to feel that their managers appreciate them and aren’t afraid to show it, not only in pay check terms, but in other ways such as flexible work-at-home schedules, gift cards for pulling off impressive projects, or even by just saying ‘’thank you’’ for a job well done. Cash matters in people’s lives, but it’s not all that matters. What really matters in the workplace is helping employees feel appreciated.’

Ros also believes that employees want more than just cash benefits, saying: ‘Too many companies assume that recognition has to fall in the form of high financial rewards and upward promotions. If you ask people what makes them come to work on a Monday morning, pay is about number four on the list of motivators. Employees want to do interesting work, they want opportunities to learn new things, and they want to feel a sense of learning and development in their role.’

‘Be specific about what the employee did and the impact they had. Instead of just saying ‘’well done’’ or ‘’great job’’, which are very generic, it’s better to point out the strengths – recognising how your employees are growing and learning in their role has much more of an impact.’

The best formula for employee recognition:

  1. Thank the person by name
  2. State what they did that is being recognised. It is important to be specific because it identifies and reinforces the desired behaviour
  3. Explain how the behaviour made you feel
  4. Point out the value added to the team or organisation by the behaviour
  5. Thank the person again by name for their contribution

Ros also suggests finding out what ways employees like to be recognised. ‘The vast majority of people find it embarrassing to be recognised for their good work during team meetings or in public. Check with each individual that you manage and ask them ‘’How do you want to be recognised? How will I know that I’m recognising you?’’. It’s different for different people so really listen and pay attention and try to recognise people in the individualistic ways they want to be recognised.’

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