19 March 2015

Creative recognition strategies: should your company be using them?

Giving your employees an extra thank you needn’t cost a fortune. Small, day-to-day acts of employee recognition can boost morale and engagement. Take a look at some fresh ideas for showing staff how much they’re valued.

It’s well known that employees are motivated by more than just money. Although salary is an important factor when attracting staff, non-financial elements are rated highly when people are asked about what makes them feel good at work.

But many employers still think only in terms of financial rewards when it comes to recognising employee performance. The downside of financial recognition strategies is that they can encourage employees to see themselves as something of purely monetary value, as well as causing inter-employee rivalry.

Furthermore, in times of austerity, managers may decide that they can’t afford to reward staff at all – although it’s at precisely this time that employees might need a morale boost the most.

To nurture people’s sense of intrinsic worth – and their loyalty to the company – it’s worth trying to persuade managers to use a little imagination when it comes to giving recognition.

Why have a recognition programme?
When selling the idea of recognition, it’s useful to explain that when they work, recognition programmes can be highly effective in helping companies retain staff and keep them engaged. According to research by Bersin & Associates, companies with recognition programmes that boost employee engagement have 31% lower voluntary turnover than similar companies with ineffective recognition programmes.

What contributions should you recognise?
To help managers implement a recognition programme, it’s important to clarify what behaviour should be recognised. People don’t need to be rewarded just for coming in to work every day, or extravagantly praised for merely going about their daily tasks.

Nor, some HR experts would argue, do they need to be rewarded for simply being with a company for a long time, rather than for innovation or results – although 59% of employers offered tenure based awards in 2014, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.

Rather, employment research into non-financial recognition, published by the Institute for Employment Studies, suggests that recognition should cover exceptional contributions, in areas like customer service, outstanding teamwork or coming up with great ideas.

Tips for rewards
To reward employees effectively, it’s important for managers to understand them and give them things they really want. Some companies gather information about people’s likes and hobbies when they join the company so they can tailor rewards specifically to them.

You also need rewards that recognise both teams and individuals. Here are a few things employers have found successful:

  • Friday celebration: Order in drinks and pizzas for the team at the end of the week, or book a happy hour in a local restaurant.
  • Job swaps: Many employees enjoy doing something different and will enjoy a day or two working in another department.
  • Training: A short course or the chance to attend a conference is a hugely valuable incentive for many employees. 
  • Publicising employees’ achievements and ideas: Spread praise on internal social media or email.
  • Celebrating work anniversaries: There’s no need to wait for someone to have worked for the company for 25 years before you acknowledge their contribution.
  • Giving meaningful praise: Managers should single out exceptional performance rather than feeding back on everything they do. That way, employees will know their praise is sincere.
  • Giving time off: People find this invaluable, so recognising great performance by allowing staff to come in late or go home early can be hugely effective.

5 Ways Leaders Rock Employee Recognition

The Wrong Way to Thank Employees

Creative, Unique, Fresh Employee Recognitions and Morale Boosters

Employee Recognition Appreciation Award Ideas

5 Ways to Reward Employees When Raises Aren't an Option

Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)



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