Employee recognition may be one of the most powerful tools in a leader's toolkit. It helps leaders engage people, inspire trust and build relationships.
Employee recognition, however, is not a "check the box" process. Effective employee recognition ideas include those that use a human approach. While tangible gifts and financial rewards are appreciated, they may not rival employee appreciation ideas that make employees feel important.
So how do you make people feel important?
1. Treat people with respect.
In the search for innovative employee recognition ideas, companies may overlook the most fundamental strategy: treat people with respect.
The willingness to treat others with respect is one of the most basic principles of good leadership. The quickest way to make people feel that they're respected is to ask yourself: How would I treat a customer?
Use the answer to that question as your guide on how to treat employees at all levels.
2. Help employees grow.
Employees appreciate leaders who have a genuine desire to help them grow and reach their full potential. Visionary leaders see the untapped potential of their employees. They're talent hunters, looking for ways to help people develop their skills and expertise.
How do they do this?
Successful leaders set out to encourage others in their team to be successful. For one thing, they take an active interest in people's careers. They see people as a reservoir of untapped talent. Instead of looking to see when employees are doing something wrong, they look to catch them doing something right. They actively work on helping enhance employees' careers. For example:
· They mentor, coach and teach what success looks like for them and how to achieve it.
· They give timely and frequent constructive feedback to help develop employees' strengths.
· They provide opportunities for expanded responsibilities.
· They give people visibility with higher management.
Helping people grow is the sincerest form of employee appreciation. It's one of the most enduring recognition gifts. We never forget leaders who made us feel that they genuinely took an interest in our career advancement. These are successful leaders who open closed doors and narrowing gates in our career path. Their caring actions and
attention help make employees feel good about themselves and boost their belief in their abilities to accomplish goals and handle challenging tasks.
3. Show genuine appreciation for employees' hard work.
We may, sometimes, confuse recognition with physical rewards. Recognition, however, is simply acknowledging employees for a job well done. It's giving sincere thanks to people for their contributions and the hours they devote to the business.
Perhaps nothing makes more deposits on the employee side of the ledger than a sincere: "Thank you. I couldn't have done it without you."
Acknowledging the people who work hard to make your business successful may motivate them to work even harder for you, according to Duke University professor of behavioral economics Dan Ariely.
As Ariely puts it in his book, Payoff: The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations, "Acknowledgment is a kind of human magic—a small human connection, a gift from one person to another that translates into a much larger, more meaningful outcome."
Helping people grow is the sincerest form of employee appreciation. It's one of the most enduring recognition gifts.
When we acknowledge others for their work, they may be willing to work harder, and when people are not acknowledged, they may lose much of their motivation.
A big part of appreciating employees is not only giving thanks but giving genuine praise for a job well done. Employees crave appreciation. According to the Gallup Poll's 2017 Re-Engineering Performance Management Report based on more than 60 million employees in their database, "only three in 10 U.S. employees strongly agree that in the last seven days they have received recognition or praise for doing good work."
Successful leaders are not stingy with praise. They encourage at every opportunity. They genuinely appreciate people's hard work and make them feel valued.
To include praising people as part of your employee recognition efforts, start by raising your self-awareness. Ask yourself: Over the last month, have I been praising or criticizing more? If you're not in the habit of praising people, consider making it a priority.
Following these three human-centered guidelines for employee recognition may do more than just motivate those you recognize—it could have a ripple effect throughout your company and help you and your business succeed.
Read more articles on employee retention.
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