Recognizing and rewarding employees: It’s more than worth the effort

Employees want to know their efforts and accomplishments are recognized and appreciated. There is plenty of research confirming that rewarding employees leads to improved productivity and employee engagement. It impacts the bottom line!

Yet how many of us are caught up in the demands of managing an organization and miss opportunities to regularly recognize the contributions of the team that helps your organization accomplish its goals? Maybe an employee or team helped you break into a new market, launch a new product, break a sales record, exceed a metric or just handle a customer or client interaction with impressive savvy.

There are systems for tracking and rewarding employees and some show you how your efforts impact the bottom line. Maybe your company uses one of these systems. But fancy systems aren’t necessary to begin to regularly recognize and reward employees’ efforts.

The power of “Thank you”

Recognition doesn’t have to come in pretty packages with big bows or large price tags. Nor need it take a lot of time. Start by simply paying attention to your employees’ efforts and say, “thank you” when they work hard or accomplish something.

Some managers have a hard time finding these day-to-day moments. Why thank them for doing what they’re supposed to do? If this is you, it might be easier to compliment the creative way in which a required task is accomplished, the extraordinary effort someone put in to a task, or the fact that someone finally got all of the steps right in a regular process that they have found to be a struggle..

Utilizing a company social network system to give an employee a shout-out or sending a department-wide or company-wide email acknowledging an accomplishment is another great way to recognize an accomplishment and doesn’t require much time or money. Why not publicly acknowledge a special effort in a staff meeting?

I know a manager who “high fives” each team member at the end of the work day. He appreciates that they work hard each day, and this is his way to offer a genuine “thank you.” That might not be your style, but we can all be creative and find a way to be ourselves and appreciate our teams.

More than words

There are other low-cost options that won’t break the budget. Keep a stash of greeting cards in your drawer to write a quick note to an employee when you notice a job done well. Give an employee a treat, such as a favorite candy bar, a coffee from a loved coffee place, or even a nutritious smoothie. Small gift cards to recognize an out-of-the-ordinary effort can be nice, too.

Of course, the sky’s the limit when it comes to large-ticket recognition budgets. Some companies offer larger gift cards to fancy restaurants, books of gifts for employees to choose from, paid vacations and financial bonuses.

Work teams can also be rewarded with fun activities ranging from small games for the break room to providing a group with a snack or organizing an outing such as a picnic, nice dinner or a game of Whirlyball.

Things to remember

When you reward your employees, it’s important to be timely and consistent. Recognizing an accomplishment long after the fact may send the message that the manager wasn’t aware of the moment worth celebrating when it happened, which could make an employee feel less valued. Your efforts will backfire if you routinely recognize certain employees or teams and neglect to recognize the accomplishments of others.

And rewards should be appropriate to individual personality, makeup of the team and extent of the accomplishment. If an employee saves the company $100,000, a $5 gift card to Starbuck’s may seem a little trite. If someone has completed a task they’ve struggled with, a $100 gift certificate to a high-end restaurant may be excessive. And since there may be tax implications for rewards with a price tag (including gift cards or other purchased items), run the idea by your BCN Partnership Manager or Payroll Specialist to be sure you’re tax compliant as well.

The benefits of recognizing your employees’ efforts will far outweigh the cost and time it takes. Many employees will work with an improved outlook or a little more effort when they feel appreciated. Some will work harder in an effort to obtain more recognition or rewards. And you’ll all benefit when it improves your bottom line.

Trisha Crigger, Human Resources Generalist

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