Apr 22'

Employee Recognition Tips for Managers

A company's greatest asset is its people, and fully leveraging that asset requires knowing what makes them tick. Humans are hardwired to need appreciation, and studies have shown that employee recognition is a key driver in helping employees perform at their best. That's why the employee recognition industry is a $46 billion dollar market — but the human element is an essential part of the package. 

Many managers understand the importance of saying thank you, but expressing appreciation in a way that resonates with employees is more nuanced than a random pat on the back. In this article, we'll give a few employee recognition tips that will help you motivate your team, so that they'll gladly give you their best. 

Employee Recognition: Why it Matters

Employee recognition was once considered a "soft" benefit by some HR reps, but it has proven to have an observable impact on the way companies perform. These stats show the effect that appreciation has on company culture, employee productivity, and the bottom line. 

  • 66% of employees say they would quit if they felt unappreciated at work — and the number is higher among millennials. 
  • Businesses ranking in the top 20% of engagement (which recognition improves) experience 59% less turnover. 
  • 90% of employees say that recognition motivates them to give more effort.
  • Companies with strong employee recognition programs are 12 times more likely to have positive business outcomes than those who don't. 

Studies abound that prove how vital appreciation is to a healthy workplace environment and to worker productivity, so it isn't a question of if employee recognition works; it's a question of how best it should be done. 

1. Be Alert

employee recognition

Committed employees regularly go above and beyond, so employers should have no trouble identifying moments where they can recognize their workers' diligent efforts. Managers should be on the lookout for instances where workers exceed their expectations, and should make it clear that they noticed. 

There's no need to go over the top or to give excess praise for baseline expectations like punctuality or attendance, but by giving specific, descriptive, measured recognition for moments of greatness, employers can demonstrate that they see their workers' efforts — and can motivate them to do it again. 

2. Be Personal 

employee recognition

87% of employee recognition programs focus primarily on tenure, meaning that corporate anniversaries are the main occasions in which employees are recognized. It's great to acknowledge long-standing workers for their loyalty, but if that's the only thanks they get, it probably won't be long before they feel starved for appreciation. 

Employees want to be seen as people, and not just numbers. They have personal lives filled with milestones, achievements, and aspirations, and celebrating those moments is an excellent way to give ongoing recognition. Some ways to acknowledge personal successes are: 

  • A gift basket for weddings or showers
  • A hand-written note signed by the manager or team
  • A corporate email noting an employee's achievements
  • A public dashboard displaying individual accomplishments 

Whether it's an addition to the family, completion of an athletic event, or personal development that will better your business, take note of your employees as people, and recognize their successes in a way that speaks to them. 

3. Be Purposeful

team bonding

Purpose is even more important than recognition in motivating employees to perform, and while a slightly different type of motivator, the two are inextricably linked. A study by McKinsey showed that 70% of employees say that they define their purpose through their work, and many workers are willing to sacrifice push motivators like money for a sense that what they do is valuable. 

When managers convey the company's purpose to their team in terms that explain how each member helped them reach a bigger goal, they achieve two things at once. They satisfy a need for recognition by showing employees that their efforts were seen, and they also demonstrate the importance of the work to the corporate vision as a whole. By doing both, managers can show employees just how valuable they truly are. 

4. Use an Employee Recognition Program

employee recognition

Intentional, personal, purposeful recognition is a powerful internal motivator that inspires employees to be the best they can be — but material rewards still have value. A quality employee recognition program can show team members that you care in several ways, like: 

  • Relevant rewards
  • Company-wide notifications
  • Personal gifts
  • Points systems for big-ticket items
  • Team recognition systems, so colleagues can show appreciation for each other

At Bucketlist, our employee recognition software has many features that let managers acknowledge their team. Workers will be delighted with the rewards they can receive, and they'll know that their company truly cares. When that happens, your team is more likely to go above and beyond — and both parties reap the benefits. 

If you'd like to show your employees that you recognize their work, contact us today, and give them a platform worthy of their value.

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