Recognition Programs and Employee Engagement

Incentive comes in many forms.  Effective employee recognition programs will help you retain top talent and improve your staff’s level of engagement.  Read on to discover how you can use these programs to improve your workplace culture and increase productivity.

Employee Recognition

Employee recognition is crucial to a company’s efficiency, morale, and success.  This almost goes without saying, but a company is only as good as the people who work for it.  Even if you have the most innovative product or service in the world, your business is dead in the water without well-trained and motivated people.

Today’s employee wants more than just a competitive salary and a good benefits program. They want to be treated with respect and to feel appreciated.  They want to participate in something bigger than themselves and to do meaningful work.  Above all, they want to be recognized.  Today’s employee feels valued and respected when they’re properly recognized.

Employee Recognition and Employee Engagement

But what does it actually mean to recognize an employee?  How does a firm or a department go about conveying the right message to their staff?  And what is the right message in the first place?  Lastly, what will proper employee recognition accomplish?  Read on to discover the answers to these important and all too human questions.

What is Employee Recognition?

Employee recognition is a term that can be loosely defined as a set of techniques that are designed to draw attention to the hard work, dedication, and accomplishments of your staff.  In many ways, understanding employee recognition is a matter of simple common sense. No one wants to feel like they’re just a cog in their company’s wheel and there are steps a company can take to prevent this from happening.  

There are any number of ways that a company can recognize the hard work and accomplishments of its employees.  In fact, anything from a simple thank you to an extravagant prize for Employee of the Year can qualify as staff recognition and improve team morale significantly.  

Employee recognition can happen on a daily, weekly, or yearly basis, but the best approach is to weave it into the fabric of your workplace culture.  With knowledge and planning, you can put mechanisms into place that will pay for themselves quickly and eventually become self-sustaining.  Once this happens, you’ll see a permanent change in employee morale, engagement, and productivity.  

Next week, we’ll discuss the particulars of how to create positive employee recognition programs.  In the meantime, let’s have a look what these programs can accomplish when they’re implemented properly.

Why Recognition Matters 

The importance of employee recognition boils down to the three factors we mentioned above — morale, engagement, and productivity.  Although these improvements can happen simultaneously, it’s useful to think of them as occurring in a precise psychological sequence.  Recognition programs fuel this sequence in the following manner.  

  1. People work to live, and not vice versa.  Employees will show up for work in order to earn a salary, but true engagement is another story.  When people feel valued and appreciated, their work day changes from an interruption of their life into an extension of it.  Recognition programs confer the necessary value upon their daily work and increase morale.  
  2. Once high levels of morale are achieved, employees inevitably become more engaged with their daily work.  There are many factors involved in employee engagement, but most revolve around an axis of mindfulness.  Engaged employees care more about what they’re doing.  They pay closer attention, both to what’s directly in front of them and to the effect their work has on the rest of the team.  Employee engagement is a complex subject, but it’s easy to see some of the important implications it has from what we’ve already mentioned.  
  3. Increased productivity is the natural outgrowth of employee engagement.  It stands to reason that when individual employees become more attentive to their own and one another’s work, a transformation begins to occur.  It’s at this crucial point that work becomes meaningful.  This moment also marks the moment when a group of individuals start to merge their talents efficiently and become a team.  It doesn’t require a leap of faith to see that these factors are the essence of increased productivity.