Every manager worth her salt knows that she needs to recognize the contributions made by her employees to keep them motivated and engaged, and to ensure that there is a positive and innovative organizational climate overall. Believing this to be true, wouldn’t it seem simple, then, for her to provide some sort of systematic recognition of her employees in order to make them feel valued and more positive about themselves and their abilities to contribute to the organization’s mission and goals? Well it isn’t!
First off, developing a comprehensive system of employee recognition... takes quite a bit more time than you would think it would, because you can’t employ a scatter-gun approach – there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution to the problem that is going to make all employees feel suitably recognized, and that is why so many employee recognition systems fall short of the mark and fail miserably, actually creating more dissatisfaction among employees. You end up with a group of jealous and complaining employees that are grumbling amongst themselves about favoritism and unfairness. This is enough to make any prudent manager hesitant to provide any type of employee recognition!
In order to make an employee recognition program effective, you have to decide what it is that you want to achieve by doing it in the first place. Are you trying to boost morale? Increase attendance? Foster teamwork? All of these things, and more, can be addressed through the types of employee recognition you provide. Then you need to create your goals and action plans so that you will be recognizing those exact behaviors, actions, and accomplishments that you want to see happening in your organization. If you establish employee recognitions that reinforce the qualities and behaviors you are seeking, the employees will soon come to demonstrate them for you. See how this all holds together?
Here’s an example: If you want to increase attendance, in your next weekly staff meeting, hand out a simple tri-fold letter to all employees who have had perfect attendance that week. The top part of the letter is a nicely worded note thanking them for their attendance and relating that attendance to the accomplishment of your company’s mission and goals, and stating that this will be noted in their personnel file, and that they will be entered in a monthly drawing for a gift certificate. Have them return to you the middle portion for the personnel file, and the bottom portion they will drop into the drawing box as they leave the staff meeting. This will cause some buzz! Attendance will be up next week! It is relatively easy to get free gift certificates from local businesses who will hand them out in exchange for the free advertising they receive. If not, that is why you are getting paid a managerial salary!
Another critical matter that derails employee recognition programs... is the perception of of fairness and consistency. Each person who makes the same, or similar, contribution has to have an equal likelihood of receiving recognition for his efforts. And if you have some regularly-given award, such as for meeting a production or sales quota, then you must establish the criteria that make a person eligible for that recognition and ensure that everyone who meets it is duly recognized. To do anything less is patently unfair. To recognize only your highest performer only creates dissatisfaction among all the other employees who contributed to your organization meeting its goals in that production period, especially if the criteria were unclear or the recognition was based solely on supervisory recommendation. This is why “Employee Of The Month” programs, though popular with management, are perceived as unfair and discriminatory by the employees – the intentions of the programs might, indeed, have been positive, but due to unclear criteria and lack of recognition of all those who made equal or similar contributions, they are perceived as nothing more than popularity contests by the employees.
Specificity and timing of employee recognition... are also critical to effective employee recognition, otherwise attempts at recognition can come off looking downright foolish. While everyone likes to hear “you did a nice job yesterday,” it is much more effective to hear something along the lines of, “your presentation yesterday to the Atlas clients, and the way you highlighted the sales figures so that they could see that we were out-performing our competition two-to-one was excellent, John, and was integral in winning us their contract,” is much more meaningful verbal recognition. This is something an employee will play over and over again in his mind as his heart swells with pride at a job well-done – all from some simple, meaningful words of recognition from you. And you must remember that every employee is different in what they find rewarding and how they would like to be recognized – some like the big crowd scenario of a staff meeting, while others prefer recognition in private. How are you to guess? Don’t – ask!
Now that you’ve seen the ways that official employee recognition programs can either hurt or help your workplace, here are the top ten ways to show employee appreciation:
Heather Saunders; ECITB Product Dev. Platform ManagerBook a Demo