Employee Recognition: Why It's Important & How To Get Started

Posted by Cathy Reilly

How do you recognize your employees’ achievements? Does employee recognition really matter?

According to results from TinyPulse’s 2014 Employee Engagement and Organizational Culture Report, it does. Survey results show a staggering 79 percent of employees don’t feel valued at work -- and that has a big impact on employee retention and engagement.

When embigstock-Recognition-93423494ployees don’t feel valued, they aren’t inspired to go the extra mile or motivated to work hard to meet that stretch goal their manager set.

This lack of employee recognition in the workplace becomes especially important as the Millennial generation becomes a larger part of the workforce. Millennials want to work in a positive environment -- where they’re valued -- and they are more willing than other generations to give up financial gain to get there. Which means if you’re not showing sound and sincere employee recognition, it’s time to start.

It’s our job as HR professionals to make a stand and build a culture of employee recognition in our organizations. Here are four ways to start building a culture of recognition that begins with Day One:

1. Start from the top-down.

Cultural change has to start from the top-down. That means getting your managers and upper-level employees on board.

Creating a culture of employee recognition at the upper levels of your organization is a good way to show that the company cares about its employees. This could be as simple as instituting an employee of the month (or better yet, week) program, or it could mean encouraging managers to take time out during meetings to communicate their appreciation for employees who are going the extra mile.

As an employee, nothing beats a personalized email from your manager about your great work on a project, or handwritten thank you from the head honcho for staying late to resolve a client issue. These kind of employee recognition strategies will get employees excited to come to work and make them feel more comfortable with recognizing their peers and managers successes as well.

2. Create a peer-to-peer recognition program.

Once you’ve got the top-down employee recognition approach underway, it’s time to proceed from the bottom-up. Results from TinyPulse’s survey show that, when given a simple way to do so, 44 percent of employees will recognize their peers on a regular basis. With the right system in place, you can build a strong culture of recognition in your office.

Creating a peer recognition system may seem like a big task, but it doesn’t have to be complicated.

One way to get started is by building a “Recognition Wall” for employees to recognize their peers. Encourage employees to post sticky notes on the Recognition Wall and tally them up at the end of the month. Then, reward the employees who were recognized most with a gift card, hour of PTO, lunch, or other prizes.   

For a more technological approach, use a peer recognition software platform. Many of the peer recognition software platforms out there work on a very similar premise as the Recognition Wall, but provide an even more social employee recognition experience. Take advantage of these platforms in larger offices to get your employees more engaged in the recognition process.[click to tweet]

Whether it’s a “Thank You” for helping on a project or showing appreciation for cleaning up a mess in the halls, creating a peer-to-peer recognition system gives your employees a public outlet to recognize one another in the office. And remember, when employees feel like they’re being recognized, they’ll work harder and feel more engaged.

3. Integrate charity and social outreach into your employee recognition program.

Whatever form your peer recognition program takes, integrate charity giving and social outreach into the rewards to really spur involvement. For example, instead of giving monetary rewards, give employees the option to donate to their favorite charity or spend an hour (paid, of course) volunteering.

If your organization is involved with a particular social outreach initiative, tie peer recognition milestones to donations from the company or outreach events where staff can get out of the office and make a difference. The more altruistic the incentives, the more excited employees will be to get involved with recognizing their peers.

4. Make employee recognition part of new hire orientation.

The most important part of building a culture of employee recognition is getting employees to buy in from Day One. Highlight your program during Day One orientation and walk new hires through the steps of recognizing their peers. If you’ve integrated charity donations into your recognition rewards, have them choose their charities on Day One, so they feel like they can start making a difference right away.

Throughout orientation, encourage new hires to recognize the people who help them through the onboarding process over the next few weeks. Getting new hires engaged in your culture of recognition during orientation and onboarding processes will drive home how important it is to your organization.

If you’ve already got a culture of employee recognition, you know how valuable it can be and you can explore new incentives. If not, focus your efforts on building an employee recognition program that shows how much you value your employees and encourages them to show appreciation to their peers. Your staff will be happier at work, and you’ll see the effects throughout your business.

Does your organization have an employee recognition program in place? What benefits have you seen?

Topics: Employee Recognition

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