How important is employee recognition? Unfortunately too many managers believe money is what retains valuable employees. Let me ask you a question. Have you ever resigned from a position to take a lower paying one? If so, money wasn’t your motivation, was it? Was it a lack of recognition, company culture, or your boss? Chew on that one the next time you think employee recognition is overrated.

Here are a Few Facts about Employee Recognition

“Praise and commendation from managers was rated the top motivator for performance, beating out other noncash and financial incentives, by a majority of workers (67%)” (McKinsey Motivating People, Getting Beyond Money, 2009)

“The number-one reason most Americans leave their jobs is that they don’t feel appreciated. In fact, 65% of people surveyed said they got no recognition for good work last year” (Gallup, Tom Rath and Donald Clifton, How Full Is Your Bucket? Positive Strategies for Work and Life, 2001)

“Organizations with recognition programs which are highly effective at enabling employee engagement had 31% lower voluntary turnover than organizations with ineffective recognition programs.” (Bersin by Deloitte, The State of Employee Recognition, 2012)

“Companies with strategic recognition reported a mean employee turnover rate that is 23.4% lower than retention at companies without any recognition program.” (SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey, 2012)

“Recognition is an important psychological need. Employees who know that they will receive recognition for acting on the brand promise will have a strong incentive to do so.” (Gallup, 2013 State of the American Workplace)

When to Recognize Employees

10. Tenure – Recognizing an employee on his or her anniversary is shallow if not focused on what makes the employee a valuable member of the team. Unfortunately, most organizations get this wrong. “What our research found was that tenure-based rewards systems have virtually no impact on organizational performance. Did you stay an extra year at your last job so you could get a 10-year pin? I doubt it.”  Forbes: New Research Unlocks the Impact of Employee Recognition

9. Safety – Recognizing safety milestones can help focus the team on the behaviors needed to repeat the outcome.

8. Continuous improvement – Recognizing not only achievement but the commitment to continuous improvement can help drive innovation.

7. Initiative – How many times has someone on your team taken initiative to get the job done, improve the system, or help a customer? Did they get little or no recognition for it? Shouldn’t this behavior be encouraged?

6. Intra-departmental cooperation – Every organization has Silos that interfere with the overall goals of the organization. Recognize silo busters and reward them.

5. Team Building – Whether it’s at the lowest level or companywide, team builders make your business better. Let them know team building matters to you.

4. Character – When I question businesses about employee recognition I find most concentrate on tenure and results, but shouldn’t positive character traits such as dependability, reliability, and self-motivation be recognized?

3. Achievements – Teams and individuals completing training, earning credentials, learning new skills, and taking on new responsibilities should be recognized.

2. Results – Positive results driven by activities should always be recognized. If you want the results repeated, the focus shouldn’t be placed on the results; it should be focused on the activities that brought the result.

And the number answer is…Day-to-day victories – A couple of members of our management team carry treats, we hand out 8.5 x 11 sheets that say,“We caught you doing something right!”, and sometimes just hearing, “Good job!” means a lot.

Bonus – What happens when your team has completed activities perfectly but due to consequences outside of their control the results are less than expected? When you tell an employee their hard work was for naught how do you think they feel? When this happens, it’s important to recognize the efforts of your team. If you don’t, they’ll dwell on the do-over, which will adversely affect their attitude and production.

I have a challenge for you

Are you convinced recognition is one of the keys to a productive workforce? If you are, I want you to pick one of the ten times to recognize employees and implement it in your organization. Let me know how it works, please.

One of the best ways to recognize employees is with promotional products. We just happen to have a few. Employee rewards and recognition