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The Power of Employee Recognition and Why It’s Crucial in the Workplace


 — April 17th, 2023

The Power of Employee Recognition and Why It’s Crucial in the Workplace

Unappreciated. Unacknowledged. Undervalued. It is sad but accurate to say that a huge number of employees are currently feeling “invisible” at work—a feeling that has only been heightened by the advent of remote working. Employees are missing out on those small but oh-so-important moments of human interaction with their managers, such as a few simple words of commendation or a smile of appreciation.

By now, we all agree that engaged employees who feel valued—and believe their work is of value—are more productive and stay longer with a company. And this is good for business.

So, it follows that employees who feel undervalued may become disengaged, unproductive, and may even look for opportunities elsewhere.

The figures are well documented. Organizations with higher levels of engagement are more productive (20-25%) and more profitable (21%) than those with disconnected employees. Those who receive recognition that matches their needs and expectations are 56% less likely to be looking for job opportunities.

The good news is that recognition and appreciation don’t cost much and deliver high impact.

Employers need to create opportunities for recognizing employees now. Here are seven ways to build employee recognition and appreciation.

Find Out How Employees Want to Be Recognized

It’s a good idea to actually ask employees how they would like to be recognized. Not everyone is comfortable with public shows of appreciation. On the other hand, others may thrive on it. Ask your team about their preference via a dedicated survey or a simple email. Make a note of each team member’s response and then continue to check in regularly with additional surveys.

Don’t Overcomplicate Employee Appreciation

Believe it or not, most employees value a simple ‘thank you’ for a job well done. Managers should take the time to show gratitude, whether that’s during a casual conversation, a one-to-one meeting, a team briefing, or during an annual performance review. This simple approach can often go overlooked, but it shouldn’t. Of course, the traditional appreciation methods of bonuses, time off, or a team night out will always be popular with employees.

Digital Screens for an Innovative, Impactful Thank You

Use digital displays or screens to showcase employee achievements, such as awards, milestones, or exceptional performance. You could also display messages of appreciation and gratitude from management or leadership on digital screens, such as congratulations on a job well done or thank-you notes for hard work during a challenging period. Digital screens are also an excellent solution for acknowledging employees in deskless work environments such as production floors or retail outlets.

Social Media—the Perfect Platform for Giving Kudos

For those employees who enjoy public recognition, social media communities in the workplace are the perfect outlet for dedications of gratitude! A mention on an organization’s social media channels can be a great boost. Recognizing employees in this way shows appreciation on a larger scale, demonstrating to fellow employees and peers that your organization calls out achievements and takes pride in work well done.

Social walls are an effective tool for amplifying social posts and ensuring employees get their moment to shine. Incorporate social media-style recognition features into your digital signage and invite colleagues to comment and like.

Awarding Special Employees With Special Projects

It may seem counterintuitive to appreciate employees by giving them more work, but special projects give high-achieving employees the opportunity to showcase their abilities. Furthermore, these one-off initiatives can prevent boredom, which is becoming an issue in some workplaces today. So-called ‘bore out’ can be a real drain on productivity.

Make it clear that the award is a recognition of the employee’s hard work, and be transparent about the selection process and criteria for awarding special projects. This will help ensure that the process is fair and that employees understand why certain individuals were chosen.

Investing in Employees’ Careers and Futures

Investing in employees’ career development is a great way to reinforce appreciation. Managers should check in regularly with their team and ask them how they can support their development. Perhaps there are relevant courses or mentoring opportunities employees might be interested in? Have any new roles opened that would excite or interest them? By investing in employees, managers can double down on their employee appreciation. They aren’t just offering lip service; they are genuinely grateful for their efforts. This type of positive attention can greatly improve employee morale and engagement levels.

Building a Tight-Knit Team to Foster Peer Appreciation

Appreciation from managers plays a key role in driving engagement levels upward, but peer recognition is comparable to the “Players’ Player of the Year” award—it’s the one everyone would like to win. In fact, Gartner reports that “employee performance improves when organizations foster a culture of peer feedback.” Why not organize a team development day? Or introduce peer nominations for employee recognition programs? The resulting deep connections between employees will help to build stronger teams and forge long-lasting loyalties.

Cultivating a Culture of Appreciation

All these efforts can only be effective if an organization has nurtured a positive culture of appreciation. Trust, respect, and appreciation are all key characteristics of a positive workplace culture. Organizations need to embed these traits into daily interactions. And this needs to filter from the top down. Senior management needs to get on board as their actions can speak volumes and set excellent examples for others to follow.

In this environment, employees know their work is appreciated because it’s second nature for their managers to recognize them. Gestures of gratitude are meaningful, and that’s important. Employees can see through empty gestures, and this can have a detrimental effect on morale and engagement.

Key Takeaway

Showing appreciation for employees’ hard work is essential in building engagement levels. And engagement is critical for business success. Smart organizations are nurturing a culture of gratitude and ensuring their employees feel valued and are recognized appropriately for their contributions.

There are many ways to recognize and appreciate hard work. The trick is to make sure it is genuine. As the famous quote, often attributed to Maya Angelou, goes, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Ask employees how they would like to be recognized; not everyone likes the spotlight! Personalization is also a great way to show you know your employees and value their work. Simple works too, as does a show of trust with special projects or career development opportunities. The goal is to make employees feel truly seen and appreciated. The financial investment is minimal, but the rewards can be significant.

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