How Do You Recognize Your Employees?

Employee recognition can happen on a daily basis, through a variety of ways.  The trick to successfully recognizing your employees is to understand what is meaningful to each of them, and being timely when and how you recognize them.  Should be easy as pie, right? I always assumed that I was pretty good at telling my staff “Great Job” or “Thank you” for that extra effort, but recently found out that my idea of recognition and what warms the hearts of my employees are two different things.

Recent results from an annual employee satisfaction survey Recognitionperformed by my corporation showed that our company doesn’t hit the mark in employee recognition. Our management team met to discuss the results of the survey, and to brainstorm what improvement plan we could put in place to positively impact employee perception of recognition. We came away with new plans that included employee catered lunches, more frequent visits on off shifts by the management team to distribute food rewards, setting a quota of written recognition cards for employees outside of our direct responsibility. We implemented all of these great ideas, as well as a few others. After six months we decided to do an impromptu survey to gauge improvement. And believe it or not, we were all surprised when there was no improvement in employee satisfaction.  Now what?

I decided to dedicate a staff meeting in each of my departments to find out what exactly employee recognition means to each and every one of my employees. I have the honor of leading 33 outstanding individuals, and I am happy to report that I received 30 different responses to my question. A few were happy with my standard “Great Job” and “Thank You”, some were happy with written notes sent to their homes that detailed something special I witnessed them doing. Quite a few like to be fed, regardless of what the food is. Others like monetary gifts, movie tickets, or Starbucks gift cards. Some really like to get free lunches in the cafeteria, or candy bars, or even a paid day off. Some like to be recognized in public, and a few prefer it to be kept private. I even had a few who are so enamored with their jobs that their personal happiness at work is recognition enough.

What I came away with is this; recognition in any form has to be timely and heartfelt. I was given a wealth of ideas on how I can celebrate my employees. Now that I know what they want, I have to be meaningful with my efforts to ensure they know that I value them. I can truly improve their perception by recognizing them in ways that leave an indelible mark, ensuring that they know I appreciate them and their efforts on a daily basis.

How do you recognize your employees? I would love to hear your comments and suggestions.

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