We all enjoy being recognized for something that we see as a positive attribute. Whether it’s our winning smile, our ability to cook amazing macaroni and cheese, or - perhaps more importantly - the way we crush it on a daily basis at work.
But what happens if you’re consistently turning in great projects, achieving results, slaying deadlines, wowing customers, or even just being the human embodiment of your workplace’s company culture - and no one seems to be picking up on it?
More to the point, your team leader, superior or manager isn’t picking up on it. Even if you don’t really notice the lack of recognition at first, there is a very high probability that, at some point, you’re going to wind up feeling under-appreciated, discouraged, and just not that inclined to keep on putting the effort in. Even if ‘putting the effort in’ is usually your go-to MO.
And while this might be a purely hypothetical scenario, try applying it to the employees who work in your company. If you’re someone who works in Human Resources for small businesses it really falls under your remit to ensure that your people are getting the employee appreciation they deserve.
After all, an under-appreciated employee is a disconnected employee - and therefore an employee who will probably start looking for other job opportunities elsewhere before too long. And if that person is someone who really does deserve the recognition they’re not getting in your workplace, that really is your loss.
How to increase your retention rates through employee recognition
Employee appreciation or recognition is a crucial factor in increasing your retention rates, driving down your hiring and training costs, and giving your company the edge when it comes to being one of the top places to work within your industry.
So just how do you go about recognizing your employees? It’s not rocket science and it doesn’t need to break the bank: you just need to acknowledge the great work done by your people. Tell them you appreciate them. Thank them for their contribution. We’re not even talking about doling out huge bonuses. You can show employee appreciation for a job well done in any number of small - but significant - ways. A mention in the internal company newsletter. A special blog post with a focus on certain team members who’ve gone above and beyond that month. A shout out in a team meeting.
And of course, yes, you can hand out bonuses. Sure, you can hand out some cash on a monthly or quarterly basis but the good news is, you don’t have to bankrupt yourself. Cinema tickets, or even a free coffee voucher or card should be enough to let someone know you appreciate them - that you recognize them.
Is it just managers who need to give recognition?
Actually, no. The goal here is to develop retention practices that contribute to a company culture in which employees feel comfortable and willing to give each other recognition. It doesn’t matter if you’re a CEO, working in Human Resources for small businesses, hidden away in the accounts or IT departments, or part of the sales team. In an ideal world, all of the staff in your organization should be encouraged to pat each other on the back for a job well done. And of course, as HR, creating that awesome company culture comes partly down to you!
You need to make sure your company’s managers are all onboard with this ethos of giving credit where credit is due. It’s a waterfall effect: if your employees see the leaders of the organization being generous with their praise, they will be more likely to follow suit. The practice will trickle down from the top.
How can managers make sure they cover all bases?
Obviously it’s easier said than done, and highly impractical, for every manager to stop what they’re doing and start noting down every little action or result turned in by an employee, especially if they’re running a business with more than a handful of people. It would be unrealistic to expect every manager to be able to keep track and show employee appreciation for every person’s every workplace move. And hence the annual review was born.
But the problem with the annual review is that it often doesn’t cover all of the smaller, less obvious contributions that a member of staff has made over the year. (And it can also cause people a lot of stress… which isn't going to help your employee retention.)
Many annual reviews also focus on how an employee can improve, which can result in them leaving the review feeling dejected rather than motivated and buoyed by their accomplishments.
That brings us back to why encouragement from a worker’s peers is a really important part of employee appreciation. It’s more of a natural day-to-day occurrence because your people are working alongside each other and are therefore better placed to see what contributions each other makes and how they all affect the bigger picture. Best of all - it’s not hard to do: if you see your coworker or someone in your team doing something great - tell them!
This will benefit everyone: the company employee retention rates rise due to a higher level of workplace happiness, you gain a stronger company culture, and you motivate your employees to do better work. Plus YOU feel better because paying a genuine compliment makes you feel better by default!
How easy is it to achieve a culture of employee recognition?
As we’ve seen, achieving a culture of employee appreciation or recognition doesn’t have to be mind-blowingly complicated. In fact retention practices of this nature are totally achievable for any company or organization, no matter what your size. Even more so, as far as Human Resources for small businesses go, it's definitely something that every business should consider implementing. It really does benefit everyone from the person at the top to your newest, youngest recruit.
And, the best part is that adopting a culture of recognition will usually end up paying for itself: maybe you’re spending some money on gift vouchers, team lunches, or even bonuses. But chances are you'll get back what you've spent (and more) in the money you save on employee retention, and the income you generate through increased engagement and better motivation and productivity.
And surely that’s something we can all give a little bit of recognition to.