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Employee Recognition Tips That Really Work

Three tips for developing an employee recognition strategy that will actually work.

When it comes to employee recognition, one of the biggest mistakes employers make is trying to please everyone.

Employee Recognition

The No. 1 reason Americans give for leaving a job is that they felt unappreciated or that their efforts went unrecognized. But what many managers forget is that how you show an employee your appreciation for their hard work is just as important as whether or not you do it at all.

Alex Osborne, G&A Partners’ director of client services for its Utah office, echoed that sentiment in a recent human resources roundtable event hosted by UtahValley360.

Make it personal

It’s critical that employers remember that not every employee wants to be shown appreciation in the same way. Tailoring the way you recognize an employee for their success to their individual preferences will be much more effective than a one-size-fits-all approach.

“For us, it’s finding those intrinsic motivators,” Osborne said. “Perhaps that means doing personality tests or getting to know your people and what motivates them. [For example] I have one employee and what motivates her is sitting by a window. I have another one who sits next to her, [and] he wants money. [The key is] understanding those intrinsic motivators and how we can tap into them.”

Recognition doesn’t have to break the bank

A reason employers often give for not implementing a recognition strategy is that they don’t have any extra money to spend on rewards. But, according to Osborne, some of the most successful rewards he’s seen companies offer require little to no investment.

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“Everyone wants the Google approach where there’s free food and all that flexibility… but our small clients can’t necessarily do that yet, so they’re finding what works for them,” Osborne said. “We have a client who just implemented ‘jeans always.’ That made the biggest impact on that company, and it didn’t cost a penny.”

Keep generational differences in mind

With so many generations now present in the American workforce, figuring out how to create a work environment that appeals to all groups can prove to be a difficult balancing act. This is especially true when it comes employee recognition. While Baby Boomers might prefer more traditional rewards like yearly bonuses, not every generation does.

According to Osborne, “the young employees want to make a difference and have a global influence. Not just, ‘I’m doing the task at hand,’ but ‘I’m an influence for my company and for those around me.'”

“As they enter the workforce coming out of college,” Osborne said, “we have to think about how we can change our HR practices and get the business owners on board with the changes.”

For more employee recognition tips, check out the full recap of the conversation in the summer edition of the UtahValley BusinessQ magazine (starting on page 34).

7 responses to “Employee Recognition Tips That Really Work”

  1. Barbee says:

    I think that gift cards, plaques, and incentives are a great way to show appreciation to employees. At some point however employees need to have pay increases that reflect their dedication to excellence at their particular job set. Once they go above and beyond and receive that award it should put them in a mind set to keep their performance at that level. After achieving that goal for a determined amount of time their pay rate should be adjusted to reflect their work.

  2. Our organization does small, yet really meaningful things to recognize staff. Birthday treats, Random Act of Kindness and extra perks ( gift card, massage certificate, staff meals) after particularly stressful events. The staff fills out a “Favorites” questionnaire at the beginning of each year (favorite coffee drink, food, dessert, soda, candy, sports team, relaxation activity) and we utilize that to personalize things.

  3. Michael Galligan says:

    We were discussing these issues this morning and they are very helpful. We are brainstorming about having an employee of the month with maybe a paid day off.

  4. Tammy F says:

    Great ideas. Our team loves when they get gift cards for a job well done during the month.

  5. It is always refreshing to hear about programs done in other work environments. When we have had staff leave, more than two of them commented on having a birthday cake at work. Interesting how something like that can make an impression.

  6. Kelly says:

    We usually just do things as a group. For a bit we would give out candy bars or gift cards. Sometimes I think we all get lost in the hustle and bustle of the busy season and forget to stop and really say thank you… Looks like we have a topic for the next Monday Morning Meeting 😉

  7. Max says:

    I’ve always been curious about how to go about getting recognition awards, and what happens when people are given them. I’m glad that you talked about recognition awards being able to use intrinsic motivators in your article. I’m going to have to keep this information in mind for the future if I ever get to owning my own business, and remember the importance of employee recognition awards!

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