HR & RECRUITMENT
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5 Ways to Handle Employee Recognition
Let’s face it, most workdays fly past as our to-do lists never seem to get smaller and deadlines are constantly looming. As a manager, you’re trying to keep a team of individuals with different work styles and character traits working together in harmony while constantly putting out fires. It’s therefore easy to forget to stop and take the time to recognise and acknowledge the great work your team is doing. But meaningful employee recognition is an integral part of being a good manager.
Why employee recognition is important
Our desire to receive recognition for what we do is a part of what makes us human. Whether this is at work, through our extra-curricular activities or simply from our interactions with each other. In fact. the need to feel valued has long been considered a basic human need.
Receiving recognition at work gives an employee a sense of pride and purpose as part of the team and the company. After all, after giving their time, effort and energy to the company; employees want to feel like the work they do and what they bring to the table matters.
Employee recognition ensures that workers feel comfortable enough and valued enough to give more input and stronger investment. This is particularly true if you recognise more than just the successes but rather create a culture that appreciates and recognises constant hard work. When this happens, people feel safer to take calculated risks that could be beneficial to their professional growth as well as the growth of the company.
Employees who received meaningful and frequent recognition for their efforts have been reported to:
- Have more job satisfaction and feel fulfilled
- Feel a sense of accomplishment on a day-to-day basis
- Use that feedback to grow and improve
- Have better relationships with their managers
- Feel trusted by the company they work for
- Feel like they are vital to their company’s success
But giving meaningful employee recognition is more than just the occasional pat on the back and grunting “good job”. According to survey data collected by Officevibe, 34% of employees don’t feel like they’re recognised at work frequently enough.
We have outlined 5 steps below to help you give employee recognition in a way that is meaningful and effective in order to bring out the best of your employees as individuals and as a team.
1. Understand everyone’s preferred type of recognition
Everyone is different and, therefore, different people have varying preferences on how they like to receive their recognition. Therefore, one of the first things you need to ascertain is how each of your team prefers to be recognised for what they’re doing.
Some people prefer to be praised publically while others shy away from the attention. Some employees need it more frequently while others would rather receive praise after big moments. The tricky part is learning each person’s preferences. This could take months if not years of getting to know someone unless you just ask.
During your one-to-one meetings, take the opportunity to ask them about this. This could either be an outright question like “How do you prefer receiving recognition?” or “Who do you feel most comfortable receiving recognition from?”. You can also get the information through more indirect questions like “How do you normally celebrate a win?”.
2. Be sincere, be specific
Giving meaningful and effective employee recognition takes work. You cannot simply go around firing out compliments and expect to see results. You need to take the time to reflect on what it is you are grateful for and what impressed you before providing the feedback. This is also because, when giving recognition, you need to be clear and specific about what it is that you’re recognising. Someone’s work ethic? The way they handled a difficult client or situation? How they overcame a hurdle? It’s not difficult to know when feedback is sincere or not so take the time to do it properly.
This can be particularly effective if you link what you’re giving feedback for to something you know about the receiver. If you know that a particular aspect of the job at hand is tricky for an employee but you see that they’re handling it well, be sure to acknowledge that.
Sincerity also means being honest about your own failures and what you’ve learnt from them too. Lead by example.
3. Timing is key when giving employees recognition for their work
As we’ve already mentioned, you shouldn’t aim to give recognition only when a job has been completed successfully. While that’s naturally important, it’s good to make room for recognition on a daily basis. Acknowledge continued hard work and effort in real-time. This is particularly effective when you’re in the middle of a difficult and hectic period. Take the time to step back, ask your team to breathe and thank them for putting in this effort.
This shows that you’re not just focused on the end result but you are also paying attention to the process and what everyone is putting into it.
4. Share the results
Very often, the direct impact of the hard work employees do is not communicated back to them. We spend so much time communicating the company goals and objectives but we often forget to inform staff that, thanks to their hard work, those goals have been reached.
Be specific with this sort of feedback, use analytics and metrics or maybe even testimonials from happy clients. Show them the direct value of the work they’re doing and why it matters so much.
5. Create and reinforce team values
Employees are often well-versed on the company values but how often do we talk about team values? How should a team communicate between themselves? What are the team’s priorities or day-to-day routines?
Sit everyone down early on and create these values together in order to create a real sense of ownership. Later on, the team’s core values should provide clear guidance on what sort of work or behaviour is recognised.
Remote employee recognition?
With so many of us working from home or in separate locations right now, how can managers effectively handle employee recognition in the absence of face-to-face interactions or without being able to passively witness behaviours and non-verbals?
All of this doesn’t mean that recognition should be put on the back burner. On the contrary, now is probably one of the most important times to keep your staff motivated and united by providing meaningful recognition as we navigate through these difficult times.
Create time for one-on-one meetings with your staff and be sure to give formal recognition during these moments. You can also use Zoom calls and team meetings to share recognition of good work you’ve seen from the team as a whole or even highlighting that of some individuals. Be sure to find appropriate ways to pass on your feedback across the various channels you use whether it’s by email, Zoom calls, Slack or anything else.
When was the last time you took the time to think about the great work your team is doing? And when was the last time you let them know that you appreciated it? Making space in your managerial processes for meaningful employee recognition will ensure your team is motivated and fulfilled and creates a culture of creativity and accountability in the workplace.