Developing Commitment Through Employee Recognition, The MDC Group

Developing Commitment Through Employee Recognition

Across industries, employee retention is an expensive problem. Even small businesses regularly report that worker turn over costs them between $25,000 and $100,000 annually. On the other hand, many employees feel that their work and efforts are under-recognized. According to the Harvard Business Review, 82% of American employees surveyed said they didn’t feel their supervisors recognized them adequately for their contributions, and 40% said they would put more energy into their work if they were recognized more often. One solution that helps address both of these problems is to develop a robust employee recognition program. This can help grow community and engagement, and it can be integrated easily and inexpensively into an overall retention plan.

Here are four tips for developing an effective employee recognition program that addresses worker satisfaction and helps meet company needs:

1. Relate reward strategies to company goals and core values.

There’s a number of reasons this works. For starters, tying recognition to organizational goals and values ensures that employees are aware of and well versed on these subjects. It also helps maintain accountability for company leaders to promote and reward these values in the workforce. Additionally, having clear parameters for achieving recognition makes it easier for employees to set goals and go after them.

When tied to goals and values, employee recognition can serve not only to boost retention, it can also improve company culture and employees’ overall happiness. Doing so develops of system of clear communication to workers about company priorities and how to measure success. When surveyed, workers felt that recognition programs related to the company’s guiding beliefs offered a higher return on their time invested effort.

2. Address employees holistically.

An important component of employee recognition is addressing recipients as whole people, with lives, strengths, weaknesses, hopes and dreams that don’t necessarily relate to the company. When appropriate, a successful option for employee recognition is to address workers’ overall wants and needs—even if these fall outside the general purview of the company.

Some companies choose to recognize employees through training or educational support beyond specific occupational classes. From subsidizing a liberal arts degree to bringing in experts on personal finances, companies that recognize the holistic needs of their employees see higher retention.

And recognizing the personal doesn’t just mean supporting needs; it can also mean celebrating employees’ personal successes. When executed correctly, congratulating an employee when a personal goal or milestone is achieved can have a significant impact on their overall job satisfaction.

3. Offer recognition in a timely manner.

One critical element of a successful recognition strategy is timeliness. Don’t wait until annual reviews or until a team has finished a massive project to celebrate successes. Instead, offer recognition and rewards regularly and in real time.

Timely recognition helps create and maintain momentum for individuals and teams. Annual, semi-annual and even quarterly reviews can be a long time to wait for a pat on the back. Having a schedule for recognition de-incentivizes employees to work towards achievement outside of those times. Instead, find ways to recognize achievements as they happen, and employees will engage in achievement full time.

Additionally, using recognition to celebrate milestones—not just the culmination of large achievements—can help to maintain positivity and propel an individual or team toward the end goal. It may feel natural to wait until the end of a project to start partying, but taking the time along the way to recognize a team’s dedication or hard work may help you reach the finish line faster.

4. Try something new.

While there’s certainly still a place for certificates, trophies, and pizza parties when it comes to employee recognition, there are literally hundreds of other ideas out there on the internet. So shake things up! Be aware that there are many different levels of recognition, from personal thank-you notes to company-wide celebrations, and the best reward programs find a balance or blend of different strategies.

When it comes to mixing it up, some of our favorite options for employee recognition include opportunities for peer recognition, private and public “thank you”s from leadership, mentorship opportunities, and public recognition through newsletters or social media. And let’s be real: money talks. A plain old bonus never hurt either.

Whether you opt for a small gesture or decide to wow your workers with a big show, investing in an employee recognition strategy has been proven to pay dividends in company commitment, culture, and retention.


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