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Employee Recognition: A Complete Guide

A team of employees.

Let’s face it. Today’s workforce is more dynamic than ever. With advances in technology, millennials now make up the largest segment of today’s workers. Unlike previous generations, millennials are prone to job hopping and expect frequent career growth opportunities from their employers. To keep your millennial employees engaged and happy, you need to offer employee appreciation programs that reward them for their work and help them advance faster.

Employee recognition can be a morale booster and also help in retaining talent.

But, it needs to be done in the right way.

Read on to know the benefits of employee appreciation and the top seven ways to reward your employees.

Why employee appreciation matters

Employee recognition is an important aspect of the work environment. It has been shown to improve morale, productivity, and retention rates.

Boost employee engagement

Employee appreciation is a great way to improve employee engagement. Whether it is in the form of public recognition, an award, or a formal ceremony, research shows that recognition and awards are among the most powerful motivators for employees. 

And, engaged employees, according to a Gallup study, are

  • Enthusiastic workers
  • Help their colleagues
  • Go the extra mile when required
  • Seek learning opportunities and new responsibilities
  • More productive and healthier

What’s more, companies with highly engaged employees benefit from 21 percent higher profitability, better customer engagement, fewer accidents, and 18 percent higher overall productivity.

Attract and retain top talent

Employee recognition is a key factor in retaining and attracting top talent. This is because employees who are motivated by achievement will feel more satisfied and committed to a company that has a culture of employee appreciation. If you need more convincing, here are some numbers:

A study shows that 66 percent of employees are likely to quit if they are not appreciated. When it comes to Millennials, the number of unappreciated employees who would quit rises to 76 percent.

Employee recognition is a great way to show employees that their work is valued. It also builds morale and gives them the motivation to work harder.

Enhance creativity

The happier and more engaged the workforce, the more creative it gets. In a study, one group of workers was given an array of reward options. These included a financial reward, a donation to a charity, or days off while the other group received no rewards. Researchers found that the group that received the rewards generated more ideas and was more creative.

There are other benefits too in the form of improved team morale, better coordination, and optimum mental well-being.

However, to be effective, employee appreciation programs need to:

  • Engage employees in the process
  • Focus on the behaviors that you want to reinforce
  • Use a variety of recognition methods
  • Reward behavior, not just task completion

Now that you know the benefits of employee appreciation, let’s move on to the different ways to reward and recognize employees.

Top ways to reward and recognize employees

Different companies have different needs and different recognition practices. Some companies use a more formal program, while others prefer to do something more informal.

In order to make the best impression on your employees, it is important to know what they like and what their interests are. The more you know about your employees the better you will be able to recognize them for their hard work.

1. Acknowledging employees in team meetings

A great way to show your employees that you value their contribution is to acknowledge them in team meetings. This can be as simple as giving them a shout-out when they do something great or thanking them for their work on a project.

Public recognition in front of the team will let everyone know that an employee has done a great job. This can be done by sharing an example of a time when they went above and beyond their job description or by praising them for what they do every day.

Share examples with other teams and find something they can connect with your employee on, such as achievements or skillsets.

You can also give a shout-out on social media channels to showcase your appreciation for hard-working employees. Starbucks, for instance, has dedicated a ‘partner page’ on social media where it celebrates everything ranging from employees’ work anniversaries, and their skills, to their birthdays.

2. Having a bonus or rewards system in place

Everyone loves a little extra cash, so consider implementing a bonus or rewards system for your employees. This will show them that you appreciate their hard work and want to incentivize them to keep up the good work.

Instead of cash rewards, you can also offer allowances for:

  • Travel 
  • Technology
  • Research
  • Skill development
  • Transportation

3. Encouraging employees to give feedback

Feedback is a valuable tool that can help you improve your business. Encourage your employees to give feedback on your products, services, and processes. This will help you make necessary changes and improve the overall work experience for your team.

 4. Allowing for flexible work hours

More and more employees are looking for flexible hours to achieve a good work-life balance. In fact, a recent study shows most employees prefer flexible working hours over financial rewards. Flexible work hours are a great way to show your employees that you value their time and commitment. This can be as simple as allowing them to start and end their workday a bit earlier or later, or even letting them work from home on occasion.

5. Creating opportunities for growth

Employees want to feel like they are growing in their careers. Offer opportunities for employees to take on additional responsibilities, attend training, or even get promoted. This will show them that you are invested in their development and care about their future with the company.

6. Celebrate birthdays and anniversaries

Celebrating your employees’ milestone moments is an effective way to show your appreciation for your employees.

Whether it is a small gift, a card, flowers, or a lunch, celebrating birthdays and anniversaries shows employees that you value their contribution.

7. Customized rewards

Not all employees want the same thing. Some may love a T-shirt with the company logo while others may prefer a gift card or childcare help. Giving your employees different options to choose from will help you meet their differing needs.

Wrap Up

An effective employee recognition program increases employee engagement, retention, and performance. It also reduces stress, turnover, and the cost of hiring new employees. A well-executed employee recognition program will give your company a healthy reputation as an employer of choice among job seekers.

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