How you can encourage employee recognition
Appreciation is a fundamental human need. Employees respond to appreciation expressed through recognition of their good work because it confirms their work is valued. When employees and their work are valued, their satisfaction and productivity rises, and they are motivated to maintain or improve their good work.
Individual performance→Recognition→Increased productivity→Increased value to the organization
Employee recognition is the timely, informal or formal acknowledgement of a person’s or team’s behavior, effort or business result that supports the organization’s goals and values, and which has clearly been beyond normal expectations.
Despite the unquestioned benefits arising from employee recognition, one of the mysteries of the workplace is that recognition invariably is done badly, if done at all. Few organizations have well-established and accepted formal or informal employee programs in place. Therefore, employee recognition remains an undervalued management technique.
Communication is a vital part of recognition
Communication is important in the recognition of good achievements in the workplace by peers, managers and supervisors. As a communicator, you can encourage the awarding of recognition for work well done throughout the organization when you become aware of suitable situations. Such opportunities tend to arise while gathering information for employee publications and other typical communication tasks.
Research has found it is more effective to recognize employees face-to-face. Although various apps have become available to praising employees, digital media is not a good substitute for face-to-face recognition because it is an indirect, less personal way to acknowledge someone for their good work.
You can communicate about good achievements and their long-term benefits:
- Offer employee recognition ideas to help to drive formal and informal programs of employee recognition.
- Supply articles and photographs in employee publications, including the intranet, emails, social media, and occasionally in external media about high-achieving employees.
- Arrange informal recognition functions, such as during the morning coffee break, in which the supervisor or manager thanks the person for their work.
- Directly encourage managers and supervisors to spontaneously recognize employees for their efforts (giving employees a ‘pat on the back’).
- Arrange photographs and certificates of the employees and their awards or similar, in common areas.
- Mention employee recognition activities in your workplace and elsewhere at your regular team meetings.
- Model the desired behavior by giving recognition to your staff and also to your peers (especially if you aren’t a manager yourself).
In addition, you can communicate about the long-term benefits that come to high achievers in the workplace:
- Conduct interviews with the staff who manage your organization’s career advancement programs, with the aim of publicizing the opportunities for advancement.
- Include high-achieving employees in special features in print, online publications, Facebook and Twitter that outline ways to get ahead. (You will probably find government departments are reluctant to single out individuals, but persist because this is an important issue.)
- List employees who have been promoted, proving that career advancement is possible from achieving good results in the workplace.
- Include a career management section on your organizational intranet and Facebook, which summarizes all information and resources about career advancement.
- Ensure that senior managers reinforce positive messages about high achievers and career advancement opportunities when they speak to employee groups.
You can play a valuable role by training or arranging training in presentation skills to assist supervisors and managers to improve the way they recognize their staff for work well done. Many managers have never had such training, and because good communication skills are expected as a ‘given’ in a job, some are reluctant to admit they need assistance in this area.
The concept of employee recognition is basically simple, but most managers are poor at it. They need reinforcing and coaching. They need a program, principles and procedures to help them apply recognition effectively within their area of responsibility.