Five Rules for Employee Recognition

Five Rules for Employee Recognition

December 15, 2015

Why is it sometimes so hard to say the simplest things? Saying “thank you” can seem awkward or uncomfortable in the workplace. It seems so . . . personal. But that’s exactly what it needs to be.

Across the generations in the workforce – Millennials, Gen Xers, and Baby Boomers – recognition consistently comes up as a primary motivator. We all want to have purpose in our working lives and to be recognized for the efforts and contributions we make. It’s an important part of employee engagement. The form recognition takes can vary, as people have different preferences from public award events to an eCard sent privately. But what is important is that it happens.

thank youToo many managers and colleagues get stuck when it’s time to acknowledge the efforts and achievements of a teammate. Here are five rules to get it right:

1/ Say It Now! Don’t leave a moment for doubt to build. The longer you wait, the more likely that great employee is feeling disconnected and unappreciated. Say “thank you” in the moment. Use a Manager’s Spot Award, an eCard, or just go down the hall and say the words. But do it now.

2/ Make It Personal. Did your teammate miss out on time with family to stay late? Did they go the extra mile for a difficult customer? Be sure to acknowledge that. When writing a recognition letter or eCard, cite specific examples. This way, you’ll both know you realize exactly what they did that was extraordinary.

3/ Make the Recognition Worthy of the Effort. There’s little worse than working all weekend and receiving a $5 gift card. . .  Did I say all weekend? A big effort or a big sacrifice deserves a reward that reflects that. Consider a points award, so that next weekend the employee can take the whole family out as a thank you.

4/ Don’t Forget the Supporting Cast. Few successes are achieved alone. Consider the supporting players whose contributions may not be as visible, but make a big difference.

5/ Connect Recognition to Brand Values and Goals. Recognition teaches everyone in the company what is expected of them and what is important to the organization. Let everyone know how this achievement aligned with your brand values and goals.

Whether your company has a sophisticated on-line recognition platform or leaves it to the managers to figure out, be sure that you’re using the tools available to you to make recognition timely and meaningful for the recipients. If you don’t, their next employer will.