Iconic businessman J. Willard Marriott (the founder of Marriott Corporation) once said, "Great companies are built by people who never stop thinking about ways to improve the business." Hence, building a culture where each employee feels valued and recognized should be the objective of every thriving organization.
One of the ways to make employees feel significant is by recognizing their efforts. There are several tangible and intangible ways to do this. Contrary to popular perception, recognizing your employees doesn't always cost a bomb. In some situations, a simple gesture of appreciation for an employee in public or recognizing a department for its consistent performance may be enough to motivate your workforce.
Organizations spend a lot of time, effort, and resources designing employee recognition programs. While it is essential to have a structured program in place, it is equally important to have an eye on the end goal — to keep employees motivated to drive company growth. A recognition-rich culture that is not aligned with the organization's efforts to drive growth is futile.
What is employee recognition?
Employee recognition shows employees that the organization values their effort, attitude, and engagement for driving growth, with tangible or intangible benefits. Employee recognition is one of the most effective ways an organization can boost employee motivation and build a superior employee experience. An employee recognition program can also create a strong employer brand in the marketplace.
Why does employee recognition matter?
Here's why employee recognition is critical for an organization:
- Valuable to employees: Recognition activities help employees and staff members see that the organization cares about their efforts.
- Sense of security: Recognition programs increase employees' sense of security as they see that the organization appreciates their efforts.
- Improved retention: Employee recognition programs provide better scope for retention. Recognition-rich organizations can retain talent much longer than organizations that do not believe in recognizing talent.
- Increased motivation: Recognition activities increase employee motivation which in turn helps achieve the set targets.
How to Recognize Your Team: Top 6 Ways to Recognize Your Team
There are several ways to recognize your team. Here are the top six ways to help you get started.
1. Build a peer recognition program
You can start by creating a structured peer recognition program within the organization. It will help establish the contours of the firm's strategy to improve employee retention and satisfaction levels.
Some companies like to have a traveling trophy that can be awarded by an employee holding it to another colleague. Some others use public peer recognition as the central pillar of their recognition program.
2. Create a wall of fame
Another step that can help you increase employee engagement and run the day-to-day operations more effectively is the creation of a wall of fame. It can be built digitally — on the internal intranet portal of the organization, or physically — in the conference room or any other prominent place visible to your staff members on any given day.
3. Offer gift cards to employees
Offering gift cards is not about the money; it must come across as a good gesture from the organization towards the employee's efforts. Offering gift cards to team members doing a good job is a good practice. It could be for record sales clocked in a month or a high number of customer tickets closed. Gift cards can serve as extra motivation for employees to achieve their targets.
4. Organize team-building activities
Team building activities should be an integral part of the company culture. You can start with a team meeting internally to check the possible team-building activities that the company can organize. It will give you an idea about the expectations of employees. You can design team-building activities with the target employees in mind.
Team building increases employee engagement and makes people feel like a core part of the group. A yoga class, dance class or even a pizza party can show your employees that you value their efforts.
5. Recognize publicly on social media
Integrating social media into the program can be a powerful tool for employee motivation. It can help you create better engagement and recognize talent simultaneously.
You can amplify employees' efforts by creating relevant stories and posts on social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. You can launch campaigns or hashtags around these, which will help you create better engagement and improve the results.
6. Provide the right opportunities to employees
Another way to recognize your employees is by providing them with the right growth opportunities. Providing access to a learning and development program that helps employees grow in their role or a chance to present possible ideas to the top management are some ways to do this.
You must develop detailed guidelines on what can be awarded to whom and when. And then, at the individual level, each of these opportunities will help employees and the organization to grow.
You can also help employees access growth opportunities by encouraging them to take complete ownership of the work, starting from idea generation, building the team, and executing and measuring success. This exercise will help employees realize that the organization trusts their judgment and appreciates their work. This step alone can improve retention and motivation significantly for an organization.
Common pitfalls of employee recognition
Employee recognition is about striking a delicate balance between employee expectations and the organization's aligned goals. Here are some common pitfalls of employee recognition that you must be aware of:
- Leaving people out: It is essential to create an inclusive employee recognition program in the organization. If the program is structured in a way that leaves some people out, it will do more damage than good to the organization.
- Rewarding only performance: Measuring performance in terms of numbers achieved for the business is not the right way to go about it. You should include other important qualities like punctuality, excellent communication, integrity, etc. By focusing only on performance, you are telling the employees that it is all that matters.
- Making it about the money: Another common pitfall of employee recognition is to make it all about the money. If employees only see money as a reward, you could lose them to competition sooner or later, as they can get offered better money. You should provide a mix of tangible and intangible rewards to your team.
- Lack of transparency: It is essential to make the employee recognition program as transparent as possible. Companies that tend to lose transparency in the employee recognition program are not able to derive the expected results from the activities undertaken.
- Not stating clear goals: The management must be clear about the goals set for each employee, and that should be communicated effectively.
Examples of team recognition and appreciation
There are several ways in which you can compliment co-workers for their efforts. Here are some words of praise that can be directed towards employees and co-workers:
- "Nice job on that presentation"
- "You have amazing clarity in thinking and communication"
- "I admire your work ethic"
- "You are very organized in your approach to work tasks"
- "It is admirable how well you handle stress"
- "Keep up the good work"
- "I like your confidence"
- "You are very creative"
- "Your enthusiasm is infectious"
- "I appreciate your reliability"
- "You are a team player and show appreciation for everyone in the team"
While recognizing your team, you also enrich the company culture and significantly improve employee engagement and satisfaction scores.
It would help if you avoided competitive head-to-head games as they can create an uncomfortable situation and disrupt the work environment. At the same time, you should encourage and support employees who are falling short of the company's expectations and are unable to use the recognition opportunities fully.
It is best to have a structured employee recognition program in place with the objective of driving value for the business. Mesh can help you design a real-time social recognition program for your employees. Mesh drives continuous improvement by engaging your team with timely feedback and positive reinforcement.