Employee Recognition — What It Is, Why It Matters, and How to Use It Effectively

Introvert or extrovert — we all strive to be seen in one way or another. That’s because being recognized by our partners, our families, or our co-workers feels good. It inspires a sense of achievement, of belonging.

Recognition is a primitive feeling.

As an employee, you should be tapping into this powerful intrinsic driver to get the best out of your employees.

Will recognizing my employees really make a difference? 

Absolutely.

Recognizing employees has a close correlation to employee engagement, satisfaction and happiness.

You may be thinking that everyone gets a little bored and frustrated at work — it’s natural. 

Think again.

Studies show that disengaged employees are 12x more likely to leave their job over the period of a year. This is problematic, given the cost of rehiring and training a new employee can be twice as much as the salary of the worker you lost.

In fact, unhappy workers cost companies across the U.S. up to $550 billion a year.

Just this fact alone is enough to get most employers thinking about why employee recognition matters.

Don’t panic, though. There’s good news to come.

The many benefits of employee recognition aren’t that far out of reach — in fact, there are dozens of tactics you can implement today that won’t break the bank.

How can I show my employees recognition?

It’s easier than you think.

It all comes down to investing your time into the big three aspects that make up any company: 

  • Employees
  • Workplace environment
  • Company culture 

Spend time on your employees

This is by far the most effective way of showing your employees the recognition they deserve. 

For example, if you have recently hired a graduate student and they have displayed a hard work ethic and initiative, thank them personally. 

As a boss and as a leader, small gestures will not be forgotten by workers who could be the future of your company.

This could come in the form of a handwritten letter, or a mention and commendation while you’re screen sharing in front of other members of the company.

On top of this, congratulating employees on achievements outside of work will also go a long way.

If you know someone has just won a local sports competition, got engaged, or is planning to buy a home, let them know you are happy for them!

Showing a genuine interest in their progression outside of their careers displays authentic recognition.

Invest in your employees’ environment

This doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy jacuzzis, sleep pods, and brand new monitors for everyone.

This means you should identify the things your staff need to feel productive and looked after while they work for your company.

The best place to look is in high-traffic, shared areas. If you notice that your employees love sitting down for coffee on their break, it’s time to update the clogged coffee machine in the kitchen.

Companies like Apple and Google have taken heed of the studies that show that shared spaces improve employee productivity and have invested heavily in these areas.

Investing in the environment doesn’t just consist of the physical things your employees use.

Investing in the environment can also mean purchasing tools and programs that help your employees be more productive. If your marketing department has voiced that they spend too much time organizing communications, purchasing advanced follow-up email software will show you’ve heard their concerns and have responded.

Invest in workplace culture

To create a healthy workspace culture, you want to make sure that your team feels safe, encourage creativity, and reward hard work. You can do this by having a whistleblowing system in place for employees to report any misconduct or wrongdoing anonymously, and through fostering peer-to-peer recognition within the workplace.

Once you have created a positive environment for your business, you’ll see a dramatic increase in productivity.

This may be a harder form of recognition to implement — particularly during the days of COVID-19.

If your employees are working remotely, making an effort to organize video conferences at the end of each workweek to have some drinks and chat could be invaluable to team morale. This will show your employees you value downtime, and you encourage socialization.

When workplaces are back in full swing, perhaps ask an employee who is well respected by their co-workers to host weekly lunches.

As the employer, you could purchase snacks and drinks for the occasion. Make this a time for employees to speak freely and socially with their co-workers, not to discuss work matters. This will encourage peer-to-peer recognition, improve company culture, and again reinforce your views on relaxing and socializing.

Investing in employee recognition will improve your bottom line

Overall, employee recognition is a no-brainer for employers. It’s an all-encompassing term and can be implemented in so many ways.

Above are just three examples. 

Effective employee recognition will have a flow-on effect through your company. Not only is it often free and instantly actionable, but it will also help you grow as a boss. 

Being supportive and showing recognition to who it’s due is a hallmark of any great leader.

I encourage you to try these tactics today and watch your employees take the business to the next level.

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