Employees have never understood their value to a company better than they do
today. A healthy work-life balance is in strong demand and companies are strongly
competing to make the workplace as comfortable as possible in order to hold on to
their top talent.
Workplaces that are thankless or uncomfortable are surely going to lose out to the
more inclusive, positive, and enjoyable environments as their competitors come closer to filling these requirements.
One of the most historically overlooked investments in employee well-being is the
simple act of gratitude that comes through when offering employee recognition. There are several ways to go about this, and we’ll touch on each of the recognition types in this article.
Before we do, let’s take a deeper look at why gratitude and recognition in the
workplace are so beneficial to everyone.
Gratitude and Recognition in the Workplace
Gratitude and recognition generally describe the same act from a different perspective. When a person expresses gratitude, it has immense personal benefits to their psychological well-being, as well as to those on the receiving end of it. Gratitude spreads positivity and powerful, pleasant emotions throughout groups and is strongly associated with greater happiness in general.
Recognition works very similarly but in a more motivating and precise manner. Receiving recognition for a job well done is a form of positive reinforcement that encourages the repetition of a good act, and improves morale and motivation in the recipient. It’s a form of connection that nurtures a sense of belonging in the employee and encourages them to succeed as part of the team.
It follows, then, that in one simple act of recognition, the entire workplace can reap the rewards of both gratitude and recognition, namely, higher levels of motivation, repeatable efforts, and a happier and more positive environment.
There are multiple ways to go about this in the workplace. Different types of recognition for employees will be appropriate in different situations, and there are numerous ways to break down the following recognition types into even more categories, but to set you off on the right path, take a look at the following seven ways in which you might be able to give your staff the recognition they deserve.
There are so many types of recognition for employees, but these seven are all very effective to work with, and the most applicable in almost all instances.
- Celebrate Special Dates - This can be a birthday, or even better, a significant period for the employee’s time at your organization. Keep track of anniversaries, as well as the first 3 and 6-month landmarks in their journey, and send out an email or an office-wide announcement to mark the occasion. This is a very effective way to welcome a valued employee to the team.
- Target-Oriented Bonuses - When someone hits their targets, make sure they know you’ve noticed. Setting targets for employees keep them in alignment with the company ideals and gives them something to strive for.
Many employers are quick to chastise or question their workers for not meeting their goals, but far fewer are ready to dish out the recognition for a job well done. Targets shouldn’t be taken for granted as a bare minimum; each success should be valued.
- Slow Day Fun - An easy way to break the monotony of a slow day while improving overall morale at the same time is to have backup plans for when the work just isn’t there. Going home easily, or extra-long breaks are one way to thank your staff for being there and working hard on the tougher days. A lunch-time soccer match or extended picnic, or a movie break in the lunchroom can be easily dished out when there’s nothing else to do, and this provides both a reward for loyalty and prevents boredom in the workplace.
- Group Recognition - Many forms of recognition are centered around individual employees, but teamwork is equally worthy of praise, and should never be overlooked. When a group works hard together, make sure their efforts are well recognized. This can take many forms, but group shoutouts or casual dress days can be cost-effective and relaxed reminders that your staff is valued.
- Wellness Programs - Some companies are implementing a more continuous form of recognition and gratitude in the form of wellness programs. These promote health and fitness both mentally and physically and are good ways to make your employees feel valued as human beings. Wellness programs can be as simple as a healthy range of food in the canteen or more involved like education or exercise classes, or free medical screening facilities.
- Nicknames - Ironically, one of the best ways to make an employee feel recognized is to call them by a different name. Pet names or nicknames that reflect their strengths or something particular about them can foster inclusivity and be an informal way to bring a sense of family to the team. Be aware that nicknames need to be complimentary to the employee, and shouldn’t reference any controversial or potentially sensitive qualities such as their race or gender.
- Ask for Feedback - An excellent way to demonstrate the value of an employee’s input is to ask their opinion on something. This can be in the form of a survey or an informal discussion. Showing that you care what someone thinks goes a long way to boosting their confidence and making them feel included.
Ultimately, it’s up to management to use what’s at their disposal, and as you can see, not all recognition has to be resource-intensive. This is precisely why it’s such a powerful tool; if employees can’t find the time to recognize their staff at no cost whatsoever, it creates a feeling of being taken for granted.
On the other hand, if employees take a moment to genuinely acknowledge the efforts of their staff, motivation is kept high.
Putting these into place is pretty straightforward, as long as you follow some of the basic principles of recognition. Here are some suggestions:
Be Authentic – Employees can see right through managers who are reading off a business script. You should be recognizing your staff for the work they’re doing, not as a means toward a more productive workforce. Much like a fake apology, a fake "thank you" leaves a bitter taste and will isolate your staff from your company.
Be Consistent – Make sure recognition becomes company policy. Don’t just show up now and again when it’s easy to fit into the schedule.
Align Behaviors with Company Values – Reward behavior that matches the company direction. The best moments for recognition are when an employee is pushing the project forward.
Try CultureBot – To help you more easily reach your staff on a personal level, try CultureBot for Slack. With this add-on, your staff can earn reward points and receive shoutouts of appreciation where necessary.
Employee recognition cements the workforce as a functional family in a pleasant and productive environment. Using effective recognition types in your office or workspace can bridge the gap between work and life, and create a place and team where employees actually want to be involved.
Recognition can be as simple as a shoutout to a new employee hitting their three-month landmark with the company, or a series of programs designed to keep the entire team engaged and healthy.
The trick is to be authentic, be consistent, and lead your team in the direction of the company goals. Creating this valuable and rewarding space is the key to employee retention and healthy, motivated employees.
Stay happy & healthy,