Many adults teach their children to say “thank you” at a very young age, and why not? It is a polite thing to say to someone who has done something nice for you, given you something, or paid you a compliment, among other things. And let us not forget that it is free.

Recognition is simply acknowledgement or praise of a person for his or her actions, contributions, job well done, etc. We all possess the need to feel a sense of accomplishment and pride. Employee recognition is a common tool that rewards great outcomes from your staff­ and in a world where the satisfaction of your employees directly translates to the satisfaction of your customers, employers need to realize its importance and pay a great deal of attention to it. Although recognition during the holidays can be meaningful, it is not enough to give out gifts at the end of the year hoping to sum things up. Employee recognition should be a year-round activity in order for it to be eff­ective.

The Gallup Organization, one of the world’s leading performance management consulting firms, recently surveyed more than 4 million employees worldwide regarding the importance of being recognized. Their latest analysis, which includes more than 10, 000 business units and more than 30 industries, has found that individuals who receive regular acknowledgement and praise.

  • Increase their individual productivity.
  • Teamwork between employees is enhanced.
  • Better relate with customers and most importantly.
  • Are more likely to stay with the organization in which they work.
  • Lower negative eff­ects such as stress and absenteeism.
  • Better safety records and fewer accidents on the job.

In short, recognition has a psychological impact on performance.

Recognition Professionals International (RPI), a professional association in America, whose sole purpose is to establish innovative recognition mechanisms to improve the performance in workplaces, believes that employee recognition is critically important and that the lack of it is the number one reason why people leave an organization. Their studies have shown that 79% of people say that beyond their workload and pay, not feeling valued is a good reason to quit their jobs.

Recognizing your employees does not have to be expensive; a day o­ for good attendance or a simple “thank you” or “great work!” could do wonders for your employees’ self-confidence. However, in order to make the most impact when showing recognition, there are a few things to note;

  • It must be timely; when you see it, recognize it
  • It must be sincere and come from someone who the employee respects
  • The specific reason for the recognition must be communicated; be clear about what is being praised. It is important to establish a criteria for what performances or contributions constitute a reward/ recognition.
  • It must be meaningful and this is where the, “one size doesn’t fit all” saying comes in. Not everyone appreciates the same thing so the reward/recognition must be tailored to the person’s preference.
  • It must be relevant and proportional to the employee’s accomplishment
  • Explain how their contribution made you feel; pride, respect, etc.

It is also important to communicate to all your employees that everyone is eligible for recognition.

Many employees complain that the only communication they have with their managers is when there are errors in their work and they are called in to be reprimanded. Providing your employees with feedback on why their work was not good enough is essential but the trick to keeping them happy is to balance it out. It will not do to just focus on the negative, recognize the positive things and commend them. Managers need to do away with the, “why should I thank him? He’s only doing his job” attitude and realize that by holding out on recognition, they could lose most of their employees, especially their high performers.

Two of the most important psychological needs of human beings, according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, are the need to be appreciated and the need to “belong.” In order to satisfy these needs, employers, apart from cultivating the habit of recognizing their employees, need to encourage peer-to-peer recognition. A recent study has even suggested that individuals appreciate it more when their peers recognize their eff­orts because they know their daily activities and a “thank you” from them gives a great impact.

Human beings are naturally susceptible to touch. When we feel loved or appreciated, our bodies create Oxytocin, which is better known as the “love hormone.”

 Recent research shows that people who work under the influence of Oxytocin perform better and are more trustworthy at work. Simple things like giving someone a hug or shaking their hand can create this hormone and thus, better productivity.

It is important to note that recognition does not replace the need for feedback, appraisals, accountability, and the setting of goals; these performance management tools are still needed to move the organization forward.

A little research was conducted using some members of staff­ of L’AINE Services Ltd. They were asked whether being recognized meant anything to them. The following are some of the things that were said;

“I really appreciate it when my manager praises me for a job well done. It makes me want to perform at my best so that I can always stay in his good books. I’ve noticed that when he praises my colleagues, it doesn’t discourage me. Rather, it motivates me to do better. So I would definitely say that I need recognition in order to feel useful to my department and to my organization.”

“My manager is great at rewarding our eff­orts with money and other little gifts but I find that I prefer it when he simply thanks me for something I’ve done right. It is even better when he recognizes me in front of my colleagues because then I get praises from them too. This has taught me to also say “well’’ done” to others when they have done great work. Being recognized always makes me feel like I’m on the right path and it encourages me to achieve more. Because I get regular feedback from my manager, we have established a rapport and I can go to him with my problems and challenges on the job. It makes communication much easier!”

“I do my work very well and so I always expect my supervisor to say something positive to me. On days that he doesn’t, I tend to second-guess myself. I often go to him for feedback which usually turns out to be positive. I understand that he is a busy person but I would appreciate more feedback from him because it makes me feel more con‑dent to carry out my duties. Recognizing employees is necessary for human resource growth and development.

From the comments above, I am sure we are all convinced about the importance of employee recognition. It encourages team work, enforces a positive working environment, increases staff­ morale, improves quality of work, drives performance, engages employees, drives awareness of your brand internally and improves the self-esteem of employees. So the next time you notice someone’s good work, give them a pat on the back and let them know that you think they are doing a good job; it is good management and good business.

By Nanama Acheampong


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