Industry insights for job seekers and employers.

The Benefits of Employee Recognition

Let’s be honest, people like to hear they are doing a good job. So tell them when they are! This post will discuss positive reinforcement and employee recognition and how it can help a company’s overall bottom line.

Want to keep your employees happy and productive? A simple solution exists: Tell them they’re doing a good job. Everyone, including the company overall, will thank you for it.

Let’s get any negative thoughts off the table (this is about positive practices, after all): Employee recognition does not mean everyone gets an award for doing their basic job. Rather, it entails an employer understanding that those who do their jobs diligently and well have earned some form of acknowledgement of their efforts. There’s a fine line between empty praise and recognizing that each employee does his part to make a project come together or keep a company successful, and employers who do the latter create a better workplace and, consequently, a better work product. Actually, everybody does win.

This is all about using a basic principle of behavioral psychology — positive reinforcement of good behavior increases the likelihood of that behavior repeating. Research shows that employee recognition, whether formal or informal, not only has a positive effect on the employee, but also creates a sort of ripple effect that goes to the team, customers, and even a company’s profits. It increases productivity and cuts down on absenteeism, fosters loyalty to the company (from both employees and customers), and helps retain quality employees by cutting down on turnover. The time and cost is well worth the overall increased value to the company.

So what are some methods you might use?

  • Day-to-Day Recognition.
    Small gestures can go a surprisingly long way. Thanking an employee (by name) for a job well done can give a boost, especially when done in a timely manner. Name the specific contribution she made (thus reinforcing the behavior/action) and how it helped add to the value of the team. Remember as well that even higher-level employees still benefit from this as well, and be sure to set guidelines so all leaders recognize similar contributions. Everyone likes to know somebody notices their hard work.
  • Set Goals and Objectives.
    If each employee understands that by exceeding a certain goal, he will earn some sort of reward, this does away with the “employee of the month” idea that only certain individuals can achieve. Anyone who exceeds the goal will get recognition (although if one person goes above and beyond another, she may well earn a bigger “prize”).
  • Monetary Motivation.
    Yes, even in this modern day and age, some sort of material reward works effectively as a form of recognition for a job well done. This can be something as small as a gift card to Starbucks or Amazon, to a dinner on the company, to a company car, to a paid vacation for someone who goes way beyond a projected goal. Of course, an employer must take care with such incentives and give them out judiciously, not wanting to create an atmosphere of working solely for financial bonuses, but they do have their place.

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