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In today’s tight labor market, employers need to focus on caring for their employees and ensuring that they feel appreciated for what they do.
Employees need to be engaged and focused on the job for business success. Employees who are simply biding their time waiting to quit or simply taking part in the quiet quitters club cost employers valuable resources.
Recognizing What Employees Do Will Boost Morale
When employees feel like their hard work is noticed and their contributions are valued, they’re more likely to keep working hard and remain loyal to the company.
But it’s one thing for a big company with lots of resources to implement a comprehensive employee recognition program.
When you’re a small business, starting a recognition program can have its pitfalls.
You risk spending too much money or undermining morale. Here are some tips for recognizing employees.
1. Some Recognition Is More Valuable Than Money
Money stops many small business owners from implementing an employee recognition program, no matter how valuable the research says such a program can be.
But thinking that employee recognition has to involve giving out money in the form of bonuses is your first mistake.
Bonuses aren’t the only form of recognition employees want; it’s not even in the top spot.
No one’s saying people don’t like money because they do.
But Gallup’s data shows that the most meaningful and memorable recognition an employee can receive is an employee recognition award or other public praise.
Other forms of recognition can also be more meaningful than money.
Some non-monetary ways to show appreciation include giving extra time off, taking employees to lunch, investing in professional development, or giving a small, thoughtful gift.
2. Get to Know Your Employees as People
Personal gifts can be one of the most meaningful means of employee recognition at your disposal, but to make them count, you need to know what your employees value, and that means getting to know who they are as people outside of work.
Take your employees to lunch occasionally and spend the time talking with them about their lives.
Use downtime to chat about your employees’ hobbies, interests, and family life.
For instance, if an employee is a new parent, take the time to ask about the child and show interest in the new family addition.
A sincere and thoughtful gift can be small but should reflect a genuine knowledge of your employee’s likes and dislikes.
Think of a gift card to a store or restaurant they really like, tickets to see a favorite performer, or a souvenir item from their alma mater.
3. Recognize Team Efforts
If you’re thinking of rewarding someone for good performance, ensure that a person achieves those results independently.
For instance, if an employee is part of a work team, make sure the entire team gets credit for meeting team objectives.
If it was a team effort, recognize the whole team.
Nothing will undermine morale and sow discord faster than recognizing only a team leader for efforts made by an entire team.
4. Reward All Contributions
People contribute in different ways; not all outputs can be measured numerically.
Not everyone will be a top performer, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t feel valued and appreciated for what they can contribute.
Don’t forget to recognize those employees who are great at diffusing conflict, those who change plans last-minute to stay late and help when needed, and those whose helpfulness, cheerfulness, and kindness help boost everyone’s morale.
5. Be Deliberate With Recognition
Not only can trying to recognize too many milestones get expensive quickly, but it can also defeat the purpose of having an employee recognition program.
The more often you make a big deal out of recognizing an employee, the less meaningful it will be.
For instance, recognition should be a special occasion, not an expected daily or weekly occurrence.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t use verbal praise and thanks daily, but maybe take it easy on celebrating every work anniversary. Make a policy to focus on significant milestones instead.
Choose what types of contributions you’ll recognize carefully.
6. Make Recognition Public
Public employee awards are among the most valued forms of recognition for most employees, and a yearly awards ceremony presents a chance to publicly recognize the most valuable contributions made by employees that year.
Public praise at staff meetings is also a good idea.
Both give other employees a chance to share their congratulations and praise with their colleagues.
Whenever possible, be specific in your reasons for calling out good behavior in public so that the employee being praised and his or her colleagues know what your expectations for good performance are.
7. Make Recognition Achievable
Don’t set the bar too low either; you don’t want employees to slack off. But try to find a middle ground where recognition isn’t too easy to get, but not too hard to get either.
For instance, if you have a policy to recognize perfect attendance, an employee with a chronic health condition might never be able to achieve that recognition.
You want to give your employees something to strive for while at the same time not making them feel like they’ll never get what they’re working towards.
8. Create a Written Policy
This way, no one gets the idea that anyone else is unfairly favored, and you’ll avoid jealousy and problems with morale.
Being a small business doesn’t mean you can’t implement a successful employee recognition program.
A recognition program can be an affordable, effective way to boost productivity and foster loyalty that keeps employees working for your company for years.