HomeEmployee ExperienceCultureHuman recognition leads to productivity

Human recognition leads to productivity

  • 4 Min Read

Average cash rewards don’t motivate everyone. Dr Marie Puybaraud explains why it takes a human touch for modern workers to really ‘feel’ valued and appreciated.

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From free gym passes to festival ticket discounts, businesses across the UK are experimenting with innovative freebies to keep staff on board. In the short term, benefits of this kind are a great way of capturing the affection and loyalty of staff, but are no substitute for the real value creator: showing employees that you really care.

You cannot replace human recognition

Talk to any member of your team and they will tell you loud and clear that it’s not prizes or vouchers they’re after – they want to ‘feel’ valued.  This is a fundamental human need that is sometimes left unplugged in today’s world of work.

The impact of the “human touch” in the workplace is something that we, at JLL, have been looking into for some time. We have long suspected that workplaces and leaders that fail to connect with people on a more human level will soon struggle to attract the best talent or help their existing employees grow. To find out if this hunch was right we embarked on a goliath research program to discover the work environments where human beings thrive most.  After talking to over 40 major companies and interviewing over 7,000 employees across 12 different countries, we identified a number of ‘human’ indicators of the workplace experience that companies need to get right. And guess what? One of these is employee rewards and recognition.

While this may not sound like an eureka moment, what might surprise you is the fact that most companies today often get it wrong. Most of us need something deeper, and more meaningful than simply cash to really “feel” appreciated and valued at work – and research suggests that this is even more important for younger generations entering the workforce. With over 60% of workers surveyed by JLL saying this is something they want leaders to get better at, it appears to be a much bigger problem than we first thought.

Here are three simple things that are sure to make your employees feel like valued members of the organisation, rather than just another number on the payroll.

  1. Know your people: leaders need to work harder at getting to know their staff, uncovering what motivates different people and offering rewards geared to them, such as pursuing a side project, or taking on a new challenge within the organisation. Some may rather meet the CEO, leave early one day, or do something different entirely. It is about nurturing a human leadership.
  2. Give thanks and do it often: we all know that few things beat the feeling that comes with knowing our work has been noticed. So, when people go the extra mile, tell them. When something tough is accomplished, celebrate it. It’s about thanking and praising people “in the moment” when its most impactful, and making this an everyday aspect of the management culture. A culture of shared reward is easy to implement and sustain.
  3. Reward the right behaviour: companies shouldn’t just reward those people who hit their financial targets and goals – they must find ways to reward and encourage other positive values, actions and behaviours too – like charity, effort and service – and all the good things that they want others to follow, to emulate and to spread. Make success visible across the workplace, spread it and advertise it widely.

This all spells death for the vanilla approach to reward and recognition practised for so long. Ultimately people only ‘feel’ appreciated if, in return for their endeavours, they receive something that’s authentic and meaningful on a personal level and value by their community of peers. It’s about making them feel special and that requires a real ‘human touch’.

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