Employee recognition, sometimes known as social recognition or staff appreciation, includes formal and informal ways to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions made by employees towards their organization.

The feeling of accomplishment is uplifting but is multiplied exponentially when others take notice. The simple act of acknowledging a job well done is a big boost for employee morale and performance. When employees are rewarded for their contributions, there is a feeling of pride and ownership in being associated with the company they are working for. This translates into better productivity and engagement, lower turnover rates, boosting morale and building a sense of purpose.

Recognition can take any form, a simple high five, acknowledgment at a team meeting, handing out coupons or vouchers and so on. Implementing the right kind of recognition program is a critical factor in giving a business the much needed competitive edge.

Benefits of Employee Recognition

The benefits of employee recognition are manifold. They are

  • Drives excellence
  • Drives engagement
  • Reinforces company values
  • Nurtures trust in the organization and its leaders

Although organizations typically recognize employee’s length of service milestones, instances of strong individual or team performances, today many of them recognize and reward several other contributing factors such as

  • The ability to champion/manage change
  • Innovation
  • System Improvement
  • Customer retention
  • Morale building
  • Talent acquisition and retention
  • Significant personal development
  • Actions that embody the organization’s core values

Today no company can afford to deny the benefits of an employee recognition program. Structured employee recognition programs will definitely serve to cultivate a rich culture of appreciation, thereby making a huge difference to the bottom-line of the organization. The recognition program can be a low cost one with maximum impact and not necessarily an expensive one.  The key to doing this right is to consider employee recognition as constructive feedback that incentivizes positive contributions.

Characteristics of Effective Recognition

Before implementing any program it is necessary to bear in mind certain key characteristics which will help the program to be successful. They are

  • Timely

Waiting for long periods of time to recognize someone’s work may result in a faded impact of the program

  • Frequent

Employees are constantly contributing to the success of the company. In light of this recognition too must happen frequently

  • Specific

Specific recognition helps employees to understand which of their actions brought the team success.

  • Visible

Being publicly recognized magnifies impact and also encourages others to emulate that behavior.

  • Inclusive

Inclusive recognition helps foster a sense of equality, belonging and psychological safety for all employees.

Keys to an Effective Employee Recognition Program

The following points will ensure that the employee recognition program of an organization is executed successfully

Set Standards and Expectations

Promoting employee recognition should be aligned with the company’s culture and core values. When the leadership is invested in the recognition program, it is a kind of reinforcement of existing priorities.  Infusing the essence of the company into the program will ensure to enhance the brand value of the organization amongst its employees. When it is clearly laid down for employees as to what is expected of them, they will not only ensure that they do their job well but also go beyond their responsibilities to prove their mettle.

Shine the Spotlight on the Achiever

When someone does a job beyond the ordinary, goes the extra mile, shows extreme compassion in difficult circumstances, reaches a difficult milestone, it must be highlighted in order to bring it to the attention of all other employees to appreciate and emulate.  This can be done through a write up in the company newsletter or on the company website or in the company’s social media handles in order for a large audience to appreciate.

Maintain Records

In today’s ever changing world, highlighting the good work done by an employee should be done on a regular basis and not just at the annual/half yearly performance review. Employees thrive when they are given to understand that their work is being recognized, respected and appreciated. This is possible only if accurate records are maintained for the work that has been completed.  Managers should be trained to not only dole out appreciation on formal platforms but to be given out spontaneously too.

Appreciating Effort

For employees to thrive, achievement as well as effort needs to be lauded. This paves the way for employees to constantly strive for success in a non stressful and non pressurizing manner.  This also helps teams bond over shared accomplishments and deepens their connection to the goals of the organization.

Staff Empowerment

The work culture should promote praise and recognition at all levels. Recognizing and lauding the efforts of peers and not just reportees is a great way to boost morale. While praise from the leaders is welcomed, peer to peer recognition can work wonders too. Everyone at the organization should be equipped to spread gratitude and goodwill. Nominating colleagues for awards and special mentions, speaking out at team meetings about a co-worker’s efforts or bringing to light a job done beyond the call of duty are acts which everyone must be trained to do.

Recognition for Personal Achievement

Recognizing an employee for his personal achievements has far reaching impacts for the organization. Acknowledging a person’s hobbies, interests, passion, social service and not just work related recognition definitely gives the employee a feeling of belonging and that the organization cares for him completely and not just for the work he does. Creativity is another aspect which deserves recognition. A person who brings fresh perspective, new ideas or tackles work in an innovative adaptable way is worthy of recognition too. These kind of people are truly passionate about what they do and strive to give their best always.

Tap the Talent

Sometimes just inviting some employees to be part of setting up a new project or implementation of a new system or to reinvent some procedures can be recognition enough. It infuses confidence in the employee that he is noticed and respected and valued for his thoughts, ideas and knowledge.

Seek Input

How recognition is delivered is another critical factor for the success of the employee recognition program. However, the age-old ways of doing things may not hold much value in today’s world.  The employees’ opinions should be sought as to how the program can be made more effective and meaningful for them.

It must be borne in mind that an effective employee recognition program need not burn a hole in the pocket. There are several cost effective ways to achieve this. The bottom line of this activity should be to cultivate a culture of appreciation and ensure to provide an environment for employees to always give their best toward the organization. Employee recognition is a pillar of employee engagement and utilizing it maximizes the organization’s potential to the maximum. When people are recognized for their hard work and effort it paves the way to build a workplace culture that is inclusive, happy and above all extremely engaged and productive.

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