Mastering the Art of Employee Recognition: How to Retain and Engage your Workforce

Retaining valuable employees is a challenge in the modern workforce. A lack of employee engagement is a potential cause for increased “job-hopping,” especially amongst younger talent pools. It poses critical issues for employers, but an effective employee recognition program is a low-cost solution that helps increase engagement and makes employees feel their contribution to a company is important to overall success. Studies conducted by OfficeVibe show 30% lower turnover in companies that implement recognition programs. In the same study, they found that 90% of employees report that recognition programs positively impact their engagement and self-motivation. This ultimately leads to an improved overall company culture that enforces a company’s goals to thrive both internally and externally. Let’s begin with why recognition is important.

Why It’s important

No employee likes to feel like a small cog in an unyielding machine, but it’s precisely this sense of disengagement that results in high turnover, predominantly in larger companies. Internal operations see improvement when a workplace acknowledges its employees’ successes, whether they are large scale goals or small task-oriented victories. Positive acknowledgment and feedback is important and allows employees to benchmark where they are succeeding and where they may be falling short. It gives them a sense of direction and retains engagement to improve internal operations, productivity, and overall morale.

External operations are affected as well, with 41% of companies seeing an improvement with customer relationships since implementing a peer-to-peer recognition program. These programs boost employee confidence in their required tasks related to external client relationships and inspires a productive internal company culture. Customers’ needs are met with rapid response and higher-quality services as a result, reflecting positively on the company.

Helpful Strategies and Tools

Research shows that only 14% of companies provide their higher-ups with the necessary tools and strategies to implement a rewards and recognition program. Recognition strategies do not have to be a large cost incurred by a company. Smaller, low-cost initiatives and strategies, as simple as a company-wide email, a shout-out in a meeting, or a one-on-one conversation, are sufficient to recognize goal associated achievements and behaviors that align with company values. Higher cost, long term initiatives, on the other hand, are the tools that will provide longevity to a recognition program. An employer’s recognition strategy should establish transparent visibility across all levels of the company and should be monitored and tailored to individual company needs. Investing in a human capital management cloud system helps organize and shape a recognition strategy that improves internal communication and aids in a higher level of transparency. These systems include work-life solutions that allow employee talents to be easily visible company-wide, and encourages personal connection throughout the various levels of the organization.

Genuine, real-time praise is a tool that inspires stronger employee-employer relationships and is more meaningful. Employers should share untemplated praise versus a gift, particularly when behavior or task-oriented achievements are involved. Rewards like certificates or plaques are welcome with larger goal-related achievements but are impersonal when compared with genuine words of acknowledgment.

Once an effective employee recognition strategy and tools are implemented, employee feedback is a helpful tool throughout the further development of the process. Feedback relays the needs and demands of employees in relation to the acknowledgment they receive for their work. Offering an easily accessible feedback platform (e.g., intranet social platform, anonymous feedback) for employees helps to collect resourceful information for higher levels of the organization to further improve the recognition process and ensure it is effective. Feedback needs to be collected on a continuous, routine basis (e.g., weekly, monthly, quarterly) to adjust and mold the program, and ensure its continued effectiveness and success.

How to Make it Consistent and Successful

To make an employee recognition program consistent and successful, companies need employees at all levels to participate. Higher-level employees should set an example during implementation and avoid pressuring peers to participate, but rather encourage voluntary involvement. Employers need to create a regimented recognition system that upholds to standards that align with company ethics, culture, and employee relationship goals. 50% of employees feel being recognized by their higher-ups improved their employee-employer relationship and built stronger trust for their organization. Continued, strong communication related to accomplishments and genuine, detailed recognition develops and evolves long-term recognition improvement. Utilizing internal communication and feedback is also the best way to maintain and evolve the program to best fit ever-changing internal operations, and grow with the company and its employee demands.

Employers who build a strong recognition program yield the multitude of benefits that include, but are not limited to, a highly engaged workforce and higher retention of employees. Recognition improves culture and operations immensely, and sometimes, a simple, genuine message is all your employees need to hear to feel their hard work and dedication contributes to the company’s overall success, and to remain motivated to support a company they’re proud of.

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