• Aida Xie

Effective Employee Recognition and Its Importance

Employee recognition is the timely, informal or formal acknowledgement of a person’s or team’s behavior or effort that supports and contributes to the organization’s goals and values. It is not simply a box to tick on a ‘best practices’ checklist. Many of the world’s most successful organizational cultures share this crucial element as it has the power to impact everything from productivity and motivation, to engagement and retention.

Appreciation is a fundamental human need. When you recognize people effectively, you reinforce the actions and behaviors that you most want to see people repeat. Your recognition confirms their work is valued by others and reinforces their understanding of how you would like to see him or her contributing in the workplace. As most, if not all, employees want to be seen as contributors given that it boosts their own positive self-image, self-worth and self-esteem, any constructive recognition is meaningful and supportive. Everyone feels the need to be recognized as an individual or member of a group and to feel a sense of achievement for work well done or even for a noble effort. When employees and their work are valued effectively, their satisfaction and productivity increases, and they are motivated to maintain or improve their good work.

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Well, how do we recognize employees effectively? First up, the criteria for what performance or contribution constitutes rewards must be established and communicated clearly and specifically to the people. The better you do it, the easier it is for employees to perform accordingly. Secondly, every employee must be eligible for recognition, never leave out anyone or groups of employees. Next up, the recognition should occur as close to the completion of the performance as possible, so the recognition reinforces the behavior that the employer wants to encourage. Monthly recognition may be too infrequent and not sufficiently effective. Last but not least, a system in which managers select the people to receive recognition will not be advisable as employees will always see this sort of system as biased and favoritism. Do note that a poorly-designed employee recognition program may decrease motivation, lowers morale and even push capable employees away.

The benefits of an effective and well-implemented staff appreciation system are extensive. Productivity will definitely be improved. It is straightforward, you did a great job, you are recognized and rewarded for it, and you will be motivated to repeat what you have done. On the bigger scale, that can apply to teams as well. An intangible benefit will be the boosting of morale. Employees’ morale is a compelling element of any operation as an employee with a low morale will cause his or her contributions to suffer. On the other hand, high morale will reduce negative effects such as absenteeism and stress. Furthermore, it will create greater satisfaction and enjoyment of work. In turn, higher loyalty and gratification scores will be achieved from customers. Of course when that happens, profitability should surge over time. Finally, employees whose work are recognized and appreciated are more likely to stay within the organization. That can translate to immense savings as employee turnover is a costly business expense that is usually underestimated. Not to mention that you will be able to retain outstanding employees.

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