While leaders agree that their best employees should be recognized for their contributions, most do not provide recognition effectively. Failure to do so can be tragic. Great employees are the only way companies can succeed, and lack of recognition leads to hindered performance and decreased loyalty.
What does it mean for recognition to be effective? There is not one ‘right’ type of recognition. What matters most is that the recognition impacts the employee in the desired way. We often hear concerns from leaders that they don’t have the budget to recognize employees. The good news is that recognizing employees doesn’t have to cost a dime! Recognition can be impactful without a monetary reward. To improve recognition impact, consider immediacy, appropriateness, and the employees preferences when deciding how, when and where to deliver the recognition.
Immediacy in this case refers to how soon after the success that the reward is given. The less time elapsed between the accomplishment and the recognition, the more that reward is appreciated and psychologically tied to the accomplishment. Ideally, recognition is given ‘on-the-spot’. For example, if an employee shares some thoughtful ideas during a team meeting, recognition should occur either during the meeting or soon after.
Appropriateness refers to how well the recognition matches the accomplishment. When an employee handles a daily task well, a quick verbal recognition is appropriate. If an employee goes above and beyond their role to assist a customer, a more robust recognition at a team meeting may fit the situation. If an employee completes a large project, a more formal and public recognition may be appropriate.
Another consideration should be the employees’ preference, lifestyle and personalities. Some people love to be in the spotlight and appreciate public recognition. Others are uncomfortable with public accolades. Some employees value personal time and would appreciate an afternoon off, while others would be energized to spend an afternoon shadowing a senior leader. If you want to impact employees, you need to get to know each employee personally and determine ways to make recognition personal.
Here are some ideas that will allow you to recognize your team without resorting to monetary rewards:
1. Provide flex time
2. Help them connect through introductions to senior management and key suppliers
3. Give chances to pick their own projects
4. Give a standing ovation at a team meeting
5. Create a Wall of Fame
6. Encourage them to make their own decisions with some systems in place to control the implementation of ideas
7. Award a special parking spot
8. Publicize employee successes in a publication
9. Provide an extra vacation day or an afternoon off
10. Host a ‘bring a dish to share’ celebration