But consider what the research is saying. The companies in Gallup's study with the highest engagement levels use recognition and praise as a powerful motivator to get their commitment.
They found that employees who receive it on a regular basis increase their individual productivity, receive higher loyalty and satisfaction scores from customers, and are more likely to stay with their organization.
How regular are we talking? Praise should be given once per week. Sounds absurd, I know, but how can you argue with research involving 4 million workers across more than 30 industries? It's a super low cost, high impact way to connect with your employees, and we'd be foolish not to try it.
In fact, one of the questions from the popular Gallup Q12 engagement survey even asks this of employees about their immediate managers:
In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
According to Gallup's analysis, only one in three workers in the U.S. strongly agree that this was the case. If your direct reports answered this question with a 'yes' or 'no' how would you do?
Spread the love the Google way.
At Google, peers are encouraged to reward each other. An internal recognition tool called "gThanks" allows Googlers (as they are affectionately known) to hit Kudos and send each other thank-you notes.
This approach is better than email because all kudos are posted publicly for other Googlers to see and share on Google+. Head of People Operations, Laszlo Bock, says in his book, Work Rules!, that broadcasting a compliment makes both the giver and the receiver happier.
That's not all. Colleagues can give each other $175 cash awards with no management oversight or sign-off. Google rarely sees abuse of this peer bonus system and Googlers themselves are the ones who police the system.
Bock says trusting people to do the right thing generally results in them doing the right thing. The high freedom Googlers are given to recognize one another as important and for doing good work fosters a culture of recognition and service, helping Googlers to "think like owners rather than serfs."
Take it up another notch. Use Propsboard for giving props.
What is Propsboard? A tech firm that helps companies celebrate their people through the Slack platform and broadcast it on their office TVs. As a result, Props delivers truly public recognition while being directly integrated into one's workflow. Adam Kearney, founder of Props, explains the technology in this Medium blog.
He says that while "Slack eliminates destination fatigue, the TVs visualize public recognition and tell colleagues where peer recognition came from so they can easily find the message and express their support."
A quick exercise in giving kudos (with serious side benefits).
Technology tools aside, this quick and simple exercise that anyone can do to express gratitude and praise the old-fashioned way will increase your optimism, and it's backed by science.
1. Make a list of people at work for which you are thankful and who deserve praise for good work. Think back on the key contributions, accomplishments, or events that have happened during the calendar year involving these people.
2. Give each person a personal kudos via email, text, a hand-written note, or (if possible) in person. Spend no more than five minutes per person (one person/one kudos per day). Let these people know how special they are to you, and how you feel about them and their work.
What science is saying this will do.
Positive psychologist Shawn Achor, best-selling author of The Happiness Advantage, says that giving kudos and saying thanks for a period of 21 straight days is the fastest way to train your brain to learn optimism and stay positive. He says two minutes per day will do it. Just choose a different person to praise each day.
If you want Achor's full 23-minute morning routine for a more positive brain that, he says, will raise your performance level, I wrote this article specifically for you. Start applying kudos and recognition today.