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Employee Recognition: A Critical Part of Communications

Joe Ailinger

Joe Ailinger

employee recognitionIt’s time to make employee recognition part of the fabric of all organizations that rely on them.

According to a 2016 Gallup survey, only one in three U.S. workers strongly agree that they received recognition or praise for doing good work in the previous seven days. Think about that for a minute. Two-thirds of American workers were unable to say (or at least say with conviction) that they’d been recognized in any way over the prior week for a job well done. No ‘Atta boy!’ no ‘You go, girl!’ No nothing. Ouch. Let’s face it, the average American works pretty hard. He/she puts in more hours than almost all of their European counterparts. Of the top 20 most productive countries, only Icelanders endure a longer average workweek. If two out of three U.S. workers can go a week without getting a single kudo from management, then that’s a huge missed opportunity for organizations to inspire and connect with their workforce.

Perk Up

Recognizing and rewarding employees isn’t hard to do and can take countless forms. From wall plaques and those lucite desk ornaments to cash awards, stock options and valuable prizes. They can be as low-cost as a $50 gift card, or as lavish as an all-expenses-paid vacation at a Caribbean resort. It may just be posting employee-of-the-month names on your intranet site, or involve a formal nominating process through your management chain. At some companies, it’s small perks like a prime parking space or a free neck massage. Organizations that regularly remind employees how much they’re valued will reap the benefits, including improved morale, reduced turnover, and better work quality. As reported in the 2016 Gallup survey, Employee Recognition: Low Cost, High Impact, “In today’s war for talent, organizations and leaders are looking for strategies to attract and retain their top performers while increasing organic growth and employee productivity …[But] organizations could be overlooking one of the most easily executed strategies: employee recognition. … Employees who do not feel adequately recognized are twice as likely to say they’ll quit in the next year. “This element of engagement and performance might be one of the greatest missed opportunities for leaders and managers,” the report adds. However your organization chooses to recognize its workforce, it’s a matter of showing you’ve noticed. You appreciate those who go the extra mile. You value their special effort. And it’s vital to your success.

And the Winner Is …

employee recognitionIt’s important to make sure your employee recognition program is clearly defined and well publicized. Communicate often the different ways associates can get rewarded, how they become eligible for different programs, and when workers win awards. Make it part of your culture. Years ago, I introduced an employee e-newsletter at the defense company where I worked. In bullet format, it was a quick rundown of happenings across all divisions. Within a few weeks, it became apparent that the bolded names of employees who’d received awards or special recognition, whether from clients or the firm itself, were the most popular items. Managers and senior execs from every department started calling to ask me how they could get this guy, that girl, these teams mentioned in the next edition. Most of the time, there weren’t even prizes or money involved, just the honor of being cited for doing great work. And it got people talking in a good way. Employees would email each other congratulations after seeing their colleagues’ names appear. It fostered camaraderie, boosted morale, and helped build a shared sense of purpose and accomplishment. It’s hard to put a price-tag on what those intangibles mean to any organization.

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