Your Biggest Little Employee Investment: Recognition

Heather Palow
November 1, 2017

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the #1 reason people leave their jobs is that they don’t feel appreciated.

When talking with one of my small business coaching clients, he remarked about how his employee's morale dips during this busy time of year. Does this sound familiar to you?

According to Gallup, only 13% of employees worldwide are fully engaged on the job. That means the other 87% aren’t giving their full effort. Add in a busy time of year or when a tough deadline is looming, those numbers start to hurt business even more.

Few employees go into a job with the intention of performing poorly or not caring. It happens over time, months and years of not getting positive feedback or worse - any feedback at all - they begin to give up because they don’t know how to meet the employer's expectations. To focus on employee engagement, you have to focus on the employees themselves. Set expectations and then encourage them so they understand what you want to see more of. Recognition goes a long way toward building morale.

As the employer, focus on spotting what works and encouraging it because it is repeatable, understandable, and gives you a high return on your employee investment. This doesn’t have to cost you a lot of time or money.

  • Take some time to ask your current employees how they would like to be recognized. For example, Some people hate verbal public recognition but would love to receive a personalized email.
  • As part of your onboarding process for new employees, have them fill out a form as to how they would like to be recognized, what their favorite restaurants are, etc. It will give them a positive first impression and show how much you care about your employees.

Below are a few suggestions for inexpensive employee recognition efforts, I’m sure you could come up with more!

Encourage your employees by noticing when they do great things such as:

  • Doing more than what is expected.
  • Lending an extra hand to the team.
  • Sharing a breakthrough idea with you.
  • Bringing a skill to the group you didn’t know they had.

Recognize the positives.

  • Say “ I really appreciated when you ___.”
  • Coffee shop meetings. Hold your one-on-one meetings at a local coffee shop so it’s casual and relaxed. As a little treat, pay for your employees’ drink. For remote employees, send them online Starbucks gift cards and then Facetime / Skype with them from the coffee shop.
  • Say “ I was happy to hear your approach to ___.”
  • Write a short handwritten note or post a thank you note/letter of praise on an employee’s office door / desk / work station / equipment.
  • Say “ When talking with that customer, they mentioned how you supported them by ___, thanks so much!”
  • Set up a ‘Thank you’ meeting. Call an employee into your office just to stay thanks. It’s most impactful if you simply say thank you for a particular task and try not to discuss other issues; only talk about the good work efforts.

Thank you gifts I send to clients who refer me to their family and friends.

Make appreciation a part of your everyday activities, spotting what works and telling your employees about it!

  • Focus on each person’s strengths, wins and potential.
  • Think about the business’s goals and objectives and thank employees for taking specific steps in support of those overarching goals.

Positive recognition makes people feel really good about themselves. It also motivates employees to keep up the good work year round but most especially when the ‘end of year holiday season’ craziness or large deadlines loom near.

Maya Angelou said it best:

"...people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Heather Palow Finding Your Moment

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