Working in the modern world can be hectic. The pace is unrelenting. The expectations are high. The hours are long. And for many, the pay is underwhelming.
So, when I hear from managers that they have no time to recognize or show appreciation for their employees, I cringe. Essentially what these managers are saying is, "I'm not interested in increasing my employees' commitment to the cause. I want to make my job more difficult. I want my employees to feel taken advantage of." Now, I know this isn't the message well-intentioned leaders want to send. But not recognizing employees for their hard work is management malpractice.
Management malpractice also drives the outdated belief: "Why should I recognize my employees. They're just doing their job. They get a paycheck. That's recognition enough."
While a small percentage of employees may align with that belief, it's short-sighted. And it's a convenient way to say, "I don't need (or get) recognition and neither should you." In short, it's lazy thinking.
Businesses Benefit from Leveraging Human Nature
Human beings are social creatures. We are driven to build relationships with others. We want quality relationships, and this includes connections that make us feel good about ourselves and our contributions.
When we tap into our human nature for connection, it's an obvious next step to show that relationships are important. To do so is a signal of respect, trust, and, ultimately, that we need each other. Imagine the powerful influence a team of appreciated employees can have on results when there is a culture of recognition.
A culture of recognition benefits employees and the business. Here are but a few business-related outcomes.
- Globoforce, an organization that helps companies implement recognition solutions, found a 32 percent increase in productivity in companies that practice peer-to-peer recognition.
- In Globoforce's 2012 Employee Recognition Survey, they found engagement increases 57 percent when employees are recognized
The above research reveals several business benefits. Others include lower turnover, better financial returns, more innovative ideas, creates positive workplace climates, just to name a few.
Rules for Recognizing Employees
Today we know more about what makes recognition more effective. Here are ten rules to help you appreciate what people do and the impact their work has on the business.
Note: Rules seven through ten are about rewarding employees.
- Recognize employees within one week of the event. If your employee nails the sales presentation to a client, let them know quickly. Share your appreciation with a hand-written note or verbally. Maybe post a thank you in Slack.
- Recognize employees publicly. Show employees what behaviors are important to you.
- Focus on behaviors. It's less effective to focus on outcomes. Sometimes an employee stumbles but recovers brilliantly. Recognize the behaviors that helped him recover with grace.
- Use a 7:1 ratio. Ensure you have seven times as many positive interactions with employees compared to negative ones. This helps to build stable relationships. Of course, make those interactions genuine and not forced.
- Encourage peer-to-peer recognition. Recognition isn't limited to management. Develop solutions that allow peers to recognize one another.
- Use Technology. With tools like Slack and enterprise solutions offered by Globoforce and O.C.Tanner, it's easier to recognize people at the moment. Use of smartphones and tablets makes it easier to recognize people at the moment.
- Measure the impact. Creating a recognition solution is a business investment. Invest the resources and involve the right people to determine its impact on key business metrics like the ones mentioned earlier
- Make it unique. When recognizing someone, make the reward, if there is one, fitting for the person. If you know they like caramel popcorn give them that and not the Starbucks gift card. Show you care by putting thought into the reward.
- Encourage sharing. When rewarding employees mix it up with rewards that allow people to gift part of their reward to others: donations to charities, for example.
- Give an experience. Getting more company branded "stuff" is nice, but the positive association linked to the reward fades quickly. An experience, like dinner and tickets to a show, creates a lasting memory.
Management malpractice, managers' actions that don't lead to positive outcomes for the company and its people, can be overcome. Practicing recognition that incorporates the above rules will position you to achieve greater results in your business. Your employees will appreciate it, too.