I have two elementary-aged children who are great students and also play sports. At their age, recognition is a given.
Parents, teachers, and coaches recognize their accomplishments like getting good grades on a test or report card or scoring a goal at the game.
Why? To build their self esteem, boost their confidence, and to simply celebrate.
Something shifts, however, as we become adults and enter “the real world” and suddenly all that praise comes to a screeching halt.
Do adults not need recognition anymore because they earn a paycheck?
Does your job ever seem like a thankless endeavor? Your employees may feel the same way.
Oftentimes, leaders feel that “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” In other words, as long as everything is going well, there’s no need to point anything out to employees. It’s when problems arise that employees hear about it and the challenges begin.
It can certainly be difficult to keep engagement and motivation high when stress levels soar in the workplace.
Adults, not unlike kids, still enjoy and appreciate being recognized for their contributions and hard work.
What I’ve learned from coaching hundreds of leaders is that everyone enjoys being recognized for their efforts, but not all companies do a great job with recognition.
Maybe I’m sentimental, but I’ve kept notes of praise from peers and bosses (even former ones) and clients. I even love it when my GPS watch congratulates me on a good run (“You crushed it!”)! 🙂
Companies can benefit in big ways when they focus on making appreciation a part of the norm!
For many companies, feedback is given only at one or two specific times per year, and there’s not much focus on recognition otherwise.
While performance review praise and feedback are important, sometimes companies rely too heavily on one or two conversations to keep employees’ morale and motivation high over the course of the year.
Recognition should be an ongoing process, not a ‘check the box’ event.
We all know that recognition is important and is considered one of the big factors in creating greater employee engagement and motivation.
We also know how good recognition feels when we receive it from our peers and leaders. Here’s the basic formula:
Recognition + Appreciation = Happy Employees
Happy Employees = Greater Engagement + Productivity
Recognition = Amazing Results
Recognition is a win-win. So this begs the question, “Why don’t recognize others more often?!”
The simple answer is that leaders either don’t truly understand how big of a deal this is, or they don’t know what to do (or how to do it well).
So, what do employees want in terms of recognition?
In looking at the emerging trends in employee recognition, here’s what employees value the most (besides compensation):
- Opportunities to learn and develop. In fact, 25% of employees feel like they’re not given enough access to development opportunities and would prefer that over a spontaneous cash bonus!
- Career building opportunities. In kind with the bullet above, as people rise higher in the organization, chances for upward mobility and promotions are important. Additionally, increased trust and responsibilities/ visibility in key projects is valuable to those who want to move up.
- Flexible schedules and work hours. People have lives outside of work. Especially for younger workers, this factor is highly ranked in terms of importance (more than higher salaries!). Provide as much flexibility and autonomy as possible to let employees choose when and how to work at their best.
- More team celebrations and recognition of successes. Celebrating team wins is key to keeping engagement and motivation high. When companies focus on what’s working well and how valuable employees are to their success, everyone wins!
- Recognition from both senior leaders and peers. Recognition from bosses is valuable, but equally important is to know that teammates and peers appreciate hard work. Think of ways to encourage your team to give kudos and praise to one another.
Every organization is unique. There’s certainly no one-size-fits-all model for recognition.
In order to drive engagement at your organization, you need find out what types of recognition your employees value and how much they want.
I’d love to hear from you:
What formal or informal activities does your company sponsor to drive recognition and engagement?
If you’re interested in coaching or training programs to create a more engaged and inspired work environment, schedule a Complimentary Discovery Call with me today!