Employee recognition

Employee recognition is about acknowledging the work your staff do to achieve goals, improve efficiencies, boost profit and make the organisation an enjoyable and inspiring place to work at. It also has a dual effect in the workplace, through rewarding staff, boosting morale, and benefiting you as the employer. Put simply, employee recognition is an important part of team management - because when employees are happy and satisfied, they tend to be more loyal and committed to the company.

Types of employee recognition

Some organisations have established reward and recognition programs, celebrating the work and achievements of staff with award ceremonies, organisation-wide presentations and annual bonuses. Other organisations recognise their employees in more casual, but no less valid ways, providing extra leave days for periods of hard work, team lunches and all-staff congratulatory emails. Whether your workplace offers formal or informal employee recognition, it usually comes in two forms:

  1. Monetary
    This includes bonuses, reward packages and gifts. For example, a company might give staff impressive additional payments or bonuses at the end of their financial year based on their work throughout the year. Other organisations might reward employees with a team lunch for their impressive work on moving all client data onto a new customer relationship management program. It may simply mean buying employees gifts to acknowledge the completion of a project or year of unwavering hard work.
     
  2. Non-monetary
    This form of recognition includes rewarding employees with non-tangible items such as verbal thanks, extra leave days, flexible work hours, internal development opportunities and company-wide emails acknowledging the great work of individuals or teams.

The key with employee recognition is to ensure it’s authentic and timely. Reward for genuine, exemplary work when it happens will make employees and teams believe that their work is truly valued. If employee awards are doled out all the time for average work or in an impersonal manner, it likely won’t resonate with staff or have the desired effect of making them feel positive and loyal to their roles.

Ways to recognise your employees

There are many ways to recognise your staff for their work, both individually and in teams. Strong reward and recognition programs will build strong team culture and a positive work environment, improving your staff members’ lives in the office. Here are some suggestions on how your organisation can reward employees and improve their job satisfaction:

  • Staff activity days
    Organising an out of office activity day for your employees is a great way to prove you value them and the work they do. Whether it’s a movie afternoon, day at an amusement park or a slower-paced family picnic, rewarding your staff with activities is a great way to show you care. More than just a reward, activities like these usually succeed at improving employee-to-employee bonds and staff morale, without explicitly being team-building activities. Colleagues who connect outside of work are likely to collaborate better when they’re back in the office, feeling a greater degree of confidence and transparency with each another. Robert Half’s It’s Time We All Work Happy report found that those who say they have good relationships with others in their team are 2.7 times more likely to be happy on the job, compared with those who do not get along well with colleagues.
     
  • Temporary or long-term flexible work arrangements
    Being a flexible employer is a sure-fire way to show you value your employees and a key component of many reward and recognition programs. When staff know that they can take a free day of leave to rest after working extended hours, or work from home one or two days a week to avoid a lengthy commute, they’re going to feel appreciated. By offering flexible work hours as an employee recognition technique, you also support your staff in achieving greater work-life balance.
     
  • Say “thank-you”
    This obvious recognition technique is a tried and true method of making staff feel valued for their work. Whether it’s delivered in a private catch-up with an employee, noted in a company-wide email or announced at the weekly team meeting, a simple thank-you can go a long way. Ensure you look employees in the eyes when you’re thanking them, and take the time to detail the great work they’ve done. Tell them how it made a difference to the organisation, and why you’re grateful for their efforts.
     
  • Engage with the issues that matter to your staff, and reward accordingly
    Are there members of your team that adore soccer? Perhaps there are employees who regularly volunteer at a local animal shelter? Knowing who your staff truly are and understanding what’s important to them is a brilliant way to recognise them and the role they play in making your organisation successful. If the team members who love soccer have just completed a company-wide financial audit on schedule, why not give them a few afternoons off to watch the soccer, or even buy they tickets to a game in which their team is playing? For those who volunteer, why not make a donation to the animal shelter and provide additional volunteer leave? These gestures, highly thoughtful and personal, are an excellent way to acknowledge the impressive contributions employees make.

Staff recognition is a known key driver of employee engagement, satisfaction and loyalty, and even small gestures can go a long way to improving how staff feel about their jobs. Remember, recognising and rewarding employees can be done in many meaningful ways that aren’t just monetary. Be sincere, get creative and personalise any employee awards to reward your staff and to build a permanently better work culture.