We know that recognition works. It makes for happier, more engaged, more productive and more loyal employees. And there’s a growing body of research to back up its benefits, including this study by Bersin by Deloitte, which found that “companies with recognition programs highly effective at improving employee engagement have 31 percent lower voluntary turnover than their peers with ineffective programs”.
So, the rewards are there for businesses to build a culture of recognition within their organisations.
But what are the factors that make it effective?
Here are three keys to getting it right;
1. Timing is everything with Recognition
In an article for Forbes.com, Kevin Kruse, author of Employee Engagement 2.0, says, “A verbal ‘thank you’ done at the time of exceptional work is better than a financial thank you six months later.”
Why is the timing so important?
Because there needs to be immediacy for it to be impactful. It makes the person feel appreciated in the moment, and it strengthens the connection between the act of appreciation and the behaviour being recognised.
In other words, don’t wait for the quarterly company get-together to praise great performance.
2. You have to mean it
There’s no faking it. To be meaningful, it must be authentic and sincere – and people can usually tell when it’s not.
At the same time, the action or behaviour being recognised needs to be genuinely worthy of the recognition.
While you don’t want to hold back on giving praise where it’s due, you don’t want to dish it out arbitrarily either – be discerning and try to reinforce behaviours that you’d like to see repeated.
3. Make the connection
Most companies want their employees to “live the values” and cultivating a culture of recognition is one way to make this happen.
Linking your values to specific behaviours and then rewarding those behaviours shows your employees what really matters to your business. Gallup sums this up in their Best Practices in Workplace Recognition: “Today, praise and recognition are communication vehicles for that which is deemed important."
Everyone wants to know their work means something and that their contributions matter. Recognition in the workplace makes a difference to the employee-manager relationship and certainly makes a significant difference to the employees’ performance.
This is one of the most powerful engagement strategies that organisations should be leveraging to their advantage.