“Thanks team!” – the importance of employee recognition in the workplace

7th October 2022

The last three years has seen a dramatic transformation of the workplace. While many employees have returned to the office, they don’t plan to do so on a permanent basis. In a 2022 survey, the Office for National Statistics found that 42% of workers plan to work “mostly from home and sometimes from their usual place of work” – an increase of 30% from a year previously!
Whatever your views on the efficacy of remote working, one thing it does compromise is the open communication made possible when colleagues and line managers are physically together in the workplace. As a consequence, employee engagement and job satisfaction can be put at risk.
The importance of recognising a ‘job well done’
Mazlow’s hierarchy of needs places “self-esteem” (the concern with getting recognition, and respect from others) above the needs for social belonging and safety, giving credence to Dale Carnegie’s view that: “People work for money but go the extra mile for recognition, praise and rewards.”
One firm in the US discovered that recognition was five times more powerful as a driver of great work than paying their employees more! And a recent survey by Gallup suggested that when recognition is applied successfully employees are:

• 56% less likely to be looking for job opportunities
• Five times more likely to be connected to the company culture
• Four times more likely to refer their company to friends and family

Recognition takes many forms
Recognition can come in many shapes and sizes. Whether it’s as simple as a line manager or a colleague saying thank you, or a structured programme that allows colleagues to award points that can build towards a financial reward – it’s all vital in making the employee feel sincerely valued.

But to be successful a recognition programme has to be:

• Embedded in company culture
Recognition must work across the whole company; not just within specific units or under certain managers. This means it must be aligned to a company’s values and this can often then provide the basic structure for a recognition programme.

• Completely genuine
The recognition must be authentic and delivered to employees who deserve it; not just doled out because certain targets need to be met or favourites rewarded. For instance, a birthday card signed by a manager will have more impact than an email automatically delivered from HR.

• Ultra-personalised
Some people need recognition more frequently than others. Your recognition programme must be tailored to individual needs. For example, some may need regular reinforcement that they are doing a good job whereas others may be happy with a mention every month or so.

How to implement a strong recognition programme

1. Assign a budget
According to Gallup, 81% of business leaders say that “recognition is not a major strategic priority for their organisation.” In many organisations there is no investment in recognition. Without budget there can be no resources to support a recognition programme; no investment in embedding a culture of recognition. Manager’s also need to be trained in this area and colleagues need to be provided access with the right platforms and tools to be able to recognise and reward good performance.

2. Train your managers
Some managers naturally use recognition as a way of motivating staff. Others can be more reticent. Let the natural managers become your recognition champions and teach others how its done.

3. Lead from the top
Although employees prefer to get recognition from their line manager, senior managers need to encourage positive behaviour too. CEOs and directors can demonstrate that recognition is the norm by doing it themselves.

4. Provide the right tools
There are many digital recognition programmes and small financial reward apps that allow swift and meaningful recognition programmes to be implemented. Colleagues can be rewarded with badges and vouchers that celebrate positive achievements and can be redeemed for cups of coffee or cinema vouchers.

There’s no getting away from it – saying thank you for a job well done is the simplest, most effective way to reinforce positive behaviours and a nurture a strong corporate culture. Recognition has become as much a part of a successful employee programme as basic pay is, and organisations should ignore this at their peril.

If you’d like to know more about how Davies can support your employee recognition programme please get in touch.

Kate Burton
Commercial Director, Technology
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