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Employee Recognition: A thank-you goes a long way


It is only natural: receiving a simple “thank you” goes a very long way, and it works both ways. The great economist Adam Smith once said that gratitude – the feeling of appreciation for what others present us with – is what keeps communities together. Or, to use his own words: “The duties of gratitude are perhaps the most sacred of those which the beneficent virtues prescribe to us.” Academy agrees: gratitude, even a simple “thank you”, is a basis of power.

For those at the receiving end, this simple gesture is something which has an effect that is oftentimes neglected or overlooked. In the workplace, for instance, this translates into a more confident employee with a greater sense of self-worth, with the welcome outcome of having a motivated and committed ally in the office. It also avoids a high turnover.

So why is this simple dynamic often disregarded? This is usually due to a number of aspects, but more often than not, the reason is down to people not knowing how to express gratitude, combined with the conviction that, at the end of the day, a “thank you” is a “thank you”, no matter who is at the receiving end. This is, well, wrong.

All good projects start by setting out a clear goal, and the same applies to employee recognition. Let us assume that the purpose is to motivate your workforce with a positive effect on production. A very common mistake is the absence of a clear vision on how to recognise a company’s staff, with the result that sometimes a number of initiatives are taken to thank employees, genuinely thinking that a day at the zoo or driving a go-kart will make everybody happy. This too, unfortunately, is wrong.

A very effective approach is, instead, one which develops both in a vertical and horizontal fashion, where not only the senior management, but peers too can express gratitude for a colleague or a team. And what about the prize? Nobody knows what is best for a person other than that person themselves, so let them choose!

For example, has a customer service representative gone the extra mile for a client? Appreciation from a colleague in the sales team can make all the difference. And if the prize is a £50 e-voucher, well, that is even better.

The general purpose of feedback is to strengthen and highlight what you wish to see the person do more of— for this reason, recognition is one of the most effective forms of feedback that one can offer. And it works best when it is specific, rather than generic.

For instance, say something along the lines of “your document had a significant impact on the committee’s outcome. You did a fantastic job of highlighting the main points and information we needed before making the final decision. As a consequence of this, we’ll be able to cut 4 percent of our operating budget.” There is no need to point out what the outcome will be.

Unfortunately, there are a number of enterprises that do not see the significance of employee recognition. Senior Management’s vision is often so focused on getting the job done and making the big bucks, that sometimes they forget the people who are involved in making their goals achievable. Recognition is a valuable tool, as it increases the level of productivity at work, cuts down the employee turnover, generates higher profits and, last but not least, it enhances customer satisfaction. It is not rocket science: a satisfied employee is a happy customer, and when you have a pleased customer, the sales will automatically come in and they may even increase.

Employee recognition is great at trying to keep the employees engaged in order to obtain positive results for the business and build loyalty to the company. A high turnover can be avoided by developing a positive work environment, encouraging employee engagement and exercising recognition among your employees. A simple but effective way to give value to your most treasured asset: your staff.

Recognition can help create a healthy company culture and, believe it or not, it can help you keep your costs down. A survey published in October 2014 by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, titled The Employee outlook: Autumn 2014 survey, reported that 62% of employees who described themselves as being fully engaged in the place of work had not received a pay rise in 2014, and 63% of them were satisfied with their job despite not receiving a pay rise. This is proof of the fact that there is scope for employers to motivate staff without increasing salaries. In today’s competitive market, companies offering initiatives aimed at boosting the morale of their staff have something unique to offer; something that puts them ahead in a very fierce competition.

Gift and experience vouchers can be effective in boosting motivation levels while recognising the importance of helping employees’ salary to stretch further for things such as groceries, experience days and gifts. Employee recognition can be one of the best ways to engage your team across the board. Download our free e-book to find out more about how to build an effective engagement and recognition strategy.

Employee recognition can help create a healthy company culture. Download our free e-book to find out more about how to build an effective recognition strategy. 

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