From holiday gift boxes for employees to a formalized reward system, there are a lot of ways to recognize the hard work and contributions of employees in the workplace. You need to make sure, however, that all of the steps you take for recognizing and rewarding customers are part of a great culture of recognition.
Why does recognition matter?
More than 65% of employees say they don’t feel recognized at work, and that’s the number one reason they quit. When your employees are recognized for their contributions and achievements, it increases engagement rates, reduces turnover rates, and improves overall business performance.
When an employee is engaged, they’re 87% less likely to leave their employer, and they have a performance level that’s 20% better than employees who aren’t engaged. Companies that report the most engaged employees also have a growth rate of 2.5x in terms of revenue compared to competitors with low levels of employee engagement.
A Gallup survey found that 80% of workers feel recognition is a strong motivator of their work performance. Seventy percent said they’d work harder if they experienced continuous recognition.
So what is a culture of recognition?
In an organization with a culture of recognition, employees know and feel that their employer values them and their contributions to the overall success of the company. There’s a sense of trust, and employees are motivated to perform at a high level.
Recognition is a driver of a positive corporate culture, and it helps employees keep at the top of their minds that they are important to building and representing the core values of their organization. When you have a culture of recognition, employees know their achievements are occurring within the context of something larger than them.
So how can you begin to create a culture of recognition within your organization?
1. Take Time to Learn the Preferences of Employees
Everyone is going to be unique as far as how they prefer to be recognized. There will be employees who like recognition in public and others who are more comfortable with or find private recognition more personal.
One employee might thrive with a lot of recognition. Another employee might like for it to be saved only for very significant moments.
Recognition needs to be meaningful and to make it meaningful, it needs to be personal, so you have to learn about your employees.
You can do this simply by asking. You can send out a quick survey, or you can ask during one-on-ones with employees. Ask questions like how they like to celebrate when they achieve a goal and what the best way for you to show appreciation to them is.
2. Culture Starts at the Top
Your workplace culture is put into place and modeled by leadership at every level. You need support and buy-in from leadership for a culture of recognition. You also need to make sure that you’re showcasing what you want to see elsewhere across the organization in your own priorities and behaviors.
3. If You See Something, Say Something
If you see an employee who’s doing something that impresses you or indicates they’re going above and beyond, say something appreciative at the moment. Timely recognition and appreciation are important.
Saying thank you is free and easy and can radically shift your culture.
Sometimes, managers and leaders might think that thank yous go without saying, but that’s not the reality at all.
When you say thank you at the time you see something, it creates positive reinforcement. It might also spark a bit of competition among employees, which can drive creativity and innovation.
4. Implement Meaningful Gestures
One way that you can show gratitude is to gift employees a token of appreciation to celebrate major milestones, like anniversaries with the company.
For example, if an employee has a major work anniversary coming up, maybe you send a gift and a handwritten note explaining how much they’ve contributed to the workplace
5. Highlight the Impact of the Work
Employees like to feel like they’re part of something that’s bigger than themselves. They want to feel like their job has meaning and purpose. A sense of meaning is key for retention and engagement. You can help employees find meaning, and you can also tie this into a culture of recognition by highlighting not just what an employee does well but what the impact of that is.
Maybe you show them how they’ve helped to meet a certain target or metric or how they’ve been a supportive asset to their coworkers.
Whenever you’re providing recognition, ensure that you’re directly linking it to why what the person has done is important.
6. Promote Peer-to-Peer Recognition
While recognition needs to consistently come from company leadership and managers, peer-to-peer recognition is also going to strengthen your company culture.
Teammates work together toward shared goals, and that means they often have more direct visibility into the day-to-day activities of one another than their managers might.
Peer recognition as such becomes especially meaningful because it comes from someone who has a deep understanding of the work and what goes into it.
7. Create a Space for Recognition
If you want it to be part of your culture, you need a dedicated space for recognition, including peer recognition.
You don’t necessarily have to put this space physically in your office. You can create a virtual space.
A lot of companies have started using Slack channels for recognition, including peer-to-peer.
Within this dedicated space for recognition, you can include goals, values, and principles and keep everyone aligned and on the same page.
Recognition can help a company reinforce its values and also see how those translate to quality of work. There are small steps you can take even now to start to build a culture of recognition. This is going to make your culture more positive overall because people at work are going to focus on highlighting one another’s best qualities and efforts.
Make sure recognition is voluntary, authentic, and personalized for it to have the most meaning.