Where you work, what does employee recognition look like?

Want to improve motivation, job satisfaction, morale, and employee retention? Research shows that giving and receiving appreciation helps employees feel good. They strive for better performance too. After all, “Thanks goes a long way.”

Where you work recognition

Acknowledging employees — genuinely and consistently — is what employee recognition (or social recognition) is all about. Top Workplaces are intentional about building people-first cultures rich in appreciation. 

Employee recognition in the workplace includes both formal and informal forms of appreciation. Culture and tone are set at the top, which is why leaders play a key role in employee recognition. 

There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to appreciation, so it is wise for organizations to find what resonates most with employees. Efforts to nurture a culture of appreciation are most successful when it comes from multiple sources and levels across the organization:

  • Company-to-employee recognition 
  • Manager-to-employee recognition 
  • Peer-to-peer recognition
  • Social recognition  
  • Top-down recognition 

Successful employee recognition programs use a personal approach to motivate people. And while appreciation can mean different things, it should always be sincere and authentic. 

Capturing, strengthening, and echoing recognition from managers and peers engages employees and helps companies reinforce their goals and values. In the past, recognition programs included tactical gifts. Today, technology enables companies to amplify appreciation and promote social recognition.

Done effectively, employee recognition leads to improved productivity, customer loyalty, sales — and even higher profits.

Chances are that your organization is already spending money on employer recognition. Expenses such as team lunches, gift cards, and awards are employee recognition examples that may be allocated under a different category. But it is important to remember that showing employee recognition is most effective when genuine, consistent, and individualized. 

If you are looking for employee recognition ideas, consider these best practices:  

  • Take every opportunity to give a sincere compliment or a simple “thank you.” 
  • Incorporate meaningful appreciation by recognizing employee, team, and company achievements. 
  • Talk to your employees about their strengths and individual growth to show you are in touch with their achievements.
  • Recognize special dates such as work anniversaries and birthdays.
  • Highlight positive reviews that mention specific employees. 
  • Find ways to make it easy and quick for employees to express and broadcast their appreciation for others. 
  • Express the importance of appreciation during your onboarding efforts.
  • Encourage and role model a culture of peer-to-peer appreciation. 
  • Give employees the chance to develop, which demonstrates that you see their current successes and believe they can accomplish even more.

Failing to appreciate employees and incorporate employee recognition in your culture has a negative impact, especially in today’s competitive job market. Here are some things to watch for: 

  • Showing the wrong form of appreciation
  • Inconsistent employee recognition
  • Failing to show employee recognition during tough times
  • Employee recognition programs that feel fake or inauthentic

 A lack of appreciation is a common reason employees leave for better opportunities.

Phoebe Finn is corporate communications specialist at Energage, a Philadelphia-based employee survey firm. Energage is The Washington Post’s partner for Top Workplaces.

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