Veronica Haze, Negosentro | Many business leaders talk about fostering a company culture that supports engagement, loyalty, and productivity among employees, but they aren’t entirely sure how to go about supporting such a culture. Creating such a culture requires a multifaceted approach, with one of the priorities being employee recognition.
It should come as no surprise that employee recognition is a key part of what is generally referred to as employee satisfaction. After all, it’s human nature to want acknowledgement for a job well done, whether at work, at home, or out in the community. And when it comes to work in particular, employees want to be recognized. Multiple studies have revealed that not only is recognition closely tied to employee motivation and satisfaction – that is, when employees are recognized, they are more motivated and satisfied with their jobs – a lack of recognition is a major contributor to employee turnover. Like the common expression says, people will always do more when they feel like they are appreciated, and when your employees don’t feel appreciated, they are going to go somewhere that they are recognized for what they bring to the organization.
With that in mind, then, how do you foster a culture that is not only positive and productive, but that also recognizes employee contributions and achievements?
The first step to creating a culture of recognition is to define the culture you want. All too often, companies just assume that employees will understand the culture, and they leave it to chance and let things happen organically. Although this approach might work, if you have the right people in place, it’s more likely that the lack of organizational definition is only going to lead to chaos and a disjointed, disengaged, and disloyal workforce.
Company culture is typically defined as the overall work atmosphere, in particular how it guides the way that people work and interact with each other. Some companies confuse culture with the work environment itself, and attempt to manufacture a specific culture via furnishings, workspace arrangements, and amenities. Culture is much more than a foosball table in the breakroom or hip Swedish office furniture, though. A company’s culture is defined more by how people behave, and the values, mission, and vision of the company. It’s how people communicate with each other and how they approach their work.
Culture is found in little things, from when people arrive to work and go home for the day, to how long it takes to respond to emails. It’s whether people have informal brainstorming sessions, or save all work talk for formal meetings. But it’s also in the big things, like how people are acknowledged for the work they do.
Why Recognition Matters – And How to Do It
A recent Gallup poll revealed that nearly 70 percent of U.S. workers do not receive any recognition in the workplace. Some employers argue that recognition is given in the form of pay and benefits, but most employees feel that they deserve more acknowledgment. When you recognize the importance of employee recognition, you’ll see that people simply want to know that they are valued and appreciated for the commitment that they have made to your company. They want to know that you care about them as individuals and respect and appreciate the unique talents and skills that they bring to the organization, and that you don’t just see them as another cog in the wheel. If you can do this, you will engage your workforce, and spur them to be more productive and positive about their work.
While many companies have instituted formal recognition programs, it doesn’t have to be complicated. You can begin to recognize employees by:
- Committing to appreciation. Make a point to sincerely thank your employees on a regular basis. Send a handwritten note to an employee who has a “big win,” or single out a team member during a staff meeting for positive recognition. It only takes a moment to say thank you, but the ripple effect lasts much longer.
- Giving gifts. Sometimes, a small token of appreciation, such as custom holiday gifts, can go a long way toward helping employees feel acknowledged. Even a small pin that acknowledges a milestone is appreciated.
- Encourage team members to recognize each other. For example, some teams use a small token (like a stuffed toy) to share recognition. Each week, the holder of the token gives it to another employee during a staff meeting, with a short acknowledgement of why it’s deserved.
Employee recognition is not complicated, but it needs to be consistent and meaningful, especially if you want to create a positive company culture. The benefits, though, are clear, and the more you give, the more you will get.