It’s no secret that many employees are struggling right now. Work as we know it has changed forever and I don’t think anyone could have predicted the length of time that COVID would have a stranglehold on the world. For leaders trying to optimize their talent management process, there has never been a more important time for you to show compassion and lift people up, in an effort to support your greatest asset.
The importance of recognition
One area that could make a huge difference? Doubling-down on recognition. Why? In addition to encouraging employees to repeat good performances, recognition lifts people’s spirits as everyone has a basic human need to feel appreciated, acknowledged, and important. We all want to know that we are adding value, making a difference, and are so much more than just a number, and recognition accomplishes this.
Additionally, there are benefits for the employer, as employees who feel recognized have higher levels of productivity, stay longer, and generate higher profits thanks to increased customer satisfaction. Plus, how can we forget that happy, engaged employees create happy, engaged customers, which has the ability to catapult bottom-line results.
Why can there be a lack of recognition?
All of this sounds like a great solution to alleviate the stress employees are experiencing, so what’s the issue? The problem lies in the fact that recognition is not happening anywhere near the rate that it should in the talent management process. Unbelievably, according to OC Tanner research, 79 percent of people who quit their jobs cite ‘lack of appreciation’ as the reason for leaving.
And it gets worse. A full 89 percent of bosses believe employees quit because they want more money, according to Leigh Branham, author of, The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave. Although bosses would love for this statistic to be true, because it pardons them from having a poor talent management process, it’s not true. A lack of reward, recognition, acknowledgment, and appreciation is the culprit.
What makes up well-rounded recognition?
Another problem lies in the fact that many managers and leaders do not know how to recognize people effectively, so their efforts do not have the desired effect or they choose to not recognize anyone in an effort to avoid doing it wrong. In my book, If Not You Who? Cracking the Code of Employee Engagement, I lay out the key elements of well-rounded recognition. The key to rewarding people well is that recognition must be sincere, timely, and specific.
You must think first! Sending an email that says “Great job” to an entire team a week after a major product launch is not going to cut it. Face-to-face recognition, a Zoom video call, or a hand-written note is much more effective than sending an email. Use your head and ask yourself, “Would this make me feel appreciated, acknowledged and rewarded?” If the answer is no, don’t do it. Change course and beef-up your plan by incorporating these elements:
- Be Sincere: The most important part of saying “thank you” is being sincere. People are smart. If you thank them out of obligation, they’ll know. Speak confidently, showing that you mean every word you say, and be honest. Open up and speak from your heart.
- Be Timely: It’s more effective to dole out the praise as close to the timing of the event as possible vs. waiting days or weeks to thank the employee. When an employee is thanked in real-time, it re-enforces the positive behaviors that the employee exhibited.
- Be Specific: When recognizing an employee, content is king. The recognition must be specific to the person and highlight his/her role in the accomplishment. When people are praised for something specific, it increases the likelihood that they will repeat the positive behavior.
The benefits of recognition
Another great thing about recognition? It pays dividends for months to come. Margie Warrell, author of, Stop Playing Safe, says, “Actively supporting people to be more successful puts deposits into the relationships bank account that can make a crucial difference when circumstances change and the chips are down.”
Studies have found that how we support and celebrate people when they are enjoying success makes an even bigger impact on our relationships with them than how we support them in times of crisis. Don’t underestimate the power of a simple ‘Thank you.’ Be it written or spoken, one of the most powerful things we can do for another human being is to thank them. Everyone wants to be acknowledged and appreciated – it’s a basic human need.
Recognition: an investment for tomorrow
A final benefit of recognition? It’s a two-way street. The employee on the receiving end of the ‘thank you’ benefits and you do too. Studies published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology tell us, “Being grateful can improve well-being, physical health, strengthen social relationships, produce positive emotional states, and help us cope with stressful times in our lives. We say ‘thank you’ because we want the other person to know we value what they’ve done for us and, maybe, encourage them to help us again in the future.”
Those who were thanked were more willing to provide further assistance. Indeed, the effect of ‘thank you’ was quite substantial. While only 32 percent of participants who received a neutral email volunteered to help again, when the leader expressed his gratitude, volunteerism skyrocketed to 66 percent. When recognition occurs on a regular basis, it will help create an environment in your organization that people love where they can soar, so your company meets or exceeds its goals. Recognition is a simple and inexpensive way to fuel your employees – and your employee engagement levels – forward. Start today and you will begin seeing the payoffs tomorrow. Simple and priceless.
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