By John Allen – Director, SEO, 8×8
These are not easy times for businesses, big or small. There are some considerable challenges on the horizon – not least of which is employee retention.
Keeping people satisfied and excited at work is key to growing and maintaining a successful company. Though it can be easy to think of staff only in terms of statistics and output, it’s crucial to remember the human faces behind all those reports and numbers.
Employee recognition is one way of doing this, and it’s a great way of making staff feel valued and seen. In turn, this is more likely to make them want to stay at your company and work hard.
We’ll first run through a quick refresher of what employee recognition is as well as how critical it can be for your business. Then, we’ll take a look at how exactly you can implement an employee recognition program at your company.
What is employee recognition?
If employee recognition sounds simple, that’s because it is. Employee recognition means you acknowledge all the great stuff that your employees do – and not just big achievements.
It could be as small as a pat on the back for a well-executed presentation, or a quick thank you when you notice a colleague’s positive effect when teaching others how to use the company’s small business CRM.
Recognition doesn’t have to happen solely in the office, either. With the rise of remote working over the past few years, there are some great business virtual phone systems that allow you to hop on a quick 1-1 to make your appreciation known.
In simple terms, employee recognition means acknowledging any quality or action of an employee that you appreciate – from mundane tasks and team interactions to workplace behaviour and more.
The benefits of employee recognition
Have you ever heard that people don’t quit jobs, they quit their managers?
Employee recognition helps prevent this. People are four times more likely to be engaged at work and five to eight times more likely to see their future path at that company if they receive authentic recognition.
What this really means is that simply acknowledging the hard work your employees do will make them work harder and smarter. It will also make them more likely to stay.
Employee recognition can also have a positive effect on work relationships. Happy employees tend to work better together, especially if they don’t feel like they have to compete for their superior’s attention.
Moreover, if you can encourage peer-to-peer recognition, staff are likely to feel more positively invested in the people around them. Building on this, using a staff-wide VoIP communications system can be crucial for maintaining staff morale when your teams are meeting virtually, as they often are nowadays.
Finally, outwardly acknowledging and valuing positive behaviour is a great way of moulding the culture you want in the workplace. Simply put, rewarding an employee for an action incentivises this employee – and anyone else around – to continue acting in this way.
What employee recognition isn’t
It may seem as if recognising your employees is the same thing as giving them a reward – but not quite. There are some slight yet significant differences between these two concepts.
Firstly, rewards often take the form of financial compensation. They tend to be strictly transactional, in that the employee receives a tangible benefit for a specific performance or occasion.
In contrast, employee recognition is not done in exchange for anything else. It is a simple, quiet acknowledgement of positive behaviour.
Crucially, it is also relational, as it builds trust and confidence between the two parties – precisely because it is not transactional. What is important is the acknowledgement itself, rather than any concrete benefit.
Implementing an employee recognition programme
So now you’re all up to speed on the importance of employee recognition to both your company and your employees. But perhaps you’re wondering how to implement all this in a programme?
Your first step would be deciding on what type of behaviour you want to reinforce.
Define the behaviour
Bearing in mind that employee recognition is a key step in reinforcing your company’s values, you need to get specific about what actions you deem valuable enough to acknowledge.
You may want to focus, for example, on particular behaviours that employees exhibit. Various qualities can be suitable for recognition, such as being:
- Quick to learn
- A strong team player
Once you have this list (feel free to write it down – and add your own!), it’ll be easier to acknowledge these qualities in the moment.
Next, you should think carefully about how each person prefers to receive feedback.
For example, your quieter employees may prefer a quick word in private. Their more gregarious counterparts, in contrast, might enjoy a company-wide announcement. In fact, you may even want to send out a mass email on such occasions.
Define the method
Finally, it’s important to decide what method you’d like to deliver your acknowledgement.
Are you partial to a quick thank you email? Or will a verbal, in-person acknowledgement suffice?
Recognition can also come in other forms. Days off, certificates, holidays and team-building days are all great ways of showing your team that you recognise and appreciate their value and input. Providing employees with ample health and wellbeing benefits is becoming increasingly important, as folks begin to put emphasis on a healthy work-life balance.
And one final tip? Don’t wait too long to shoot off that thank you email. Immediate recognition helps promote a sense of authenticity and connectedness.
The future of work
The pandemic has forced us all to really think about what it means to run a business well. Remote working has shown to be key to making the workplace more inviting, as a way of attracting and retaining new recruits.
This can be intimidating for smaller companies, as traditionally this technology has been expensive and geared towards larger companies. However, opting for a small business VoIP phone system is a cheaper and more effective way to give your workers the flexibility they deserve.
Seen in this context, employee recognition is simply another string to your bow to keep employee engagement and retention at satisfactory levels.