Employee Recognition: Keep it Simple

Why do companies have such a difficult time saying “thank you” to their employees? It sounds pretty basic (especially around Thanksgiving!), but many companies do not have a culture where saying thanks and showing recognition is commonplace. That’s surprising because more than 80% of organizations that responded to Brandon Hall Group’s just-completed 2014 Employee Engagement Study cited recognition as a valuable tool for driving engagement.

I am fortunate. I work for a company where recognition flows freely from managers and peers. It is not unusual to get a text message or email from our CEO saying thank you for a busy week or for traveling to conferences this month or for just being part of the team. It only takes him a few minutes to write but the impact is long lasting. Why don’t more companies do this?

I think one reason that companies struggle with recognition is because they overcomplicate it. They view it as a task rather than a part of the culture. Recognition is acknowledging an employee’s contributions, talents, and skills on a consistent basis. Not only does it drive engagement but it helps organizations increase productivity and performance. Recognition is what can motivate employees and make them feel appreciated.

Here are a few simple recommendations to make recognition something that is part of your culture:

  1. Encourage peer-to-peer recognition. Recognition does not always need to be from leaders or managers. Companies should leverage the power of relationships and encourage peer-to-peer recognition. Only 18% of companies solicit messages and communication from colleagues for their peers. Companies should seek tools and strategies that encourage these relationships rather than stifle them.
  2. Consider social recognition tools. Social recognition tools help companies encourage relationships and make it possible to have a culture of recognition. They can do this through internal social feeds, email recognition capabilities, and analytics to track these efforts. More than one-third of companies surveyed in Brandon Hall Group’s study are planning to increase their investment in engagement efforts over the next year, and social recognition is one area to consider.
  3. Empower managers. In order for recognition to be ongoing and continuous, companies must provide managers with the right tools and resources to communicate and develop their employees. By educating managers on recognition and building relationships with their employees, organizations can also boost engagement for managers. In our study, about 25% of organizations stated that manager engagement has decreased over the past year.

We will be publishing several reports over the next month on employee recognition, so stay tuned!

Madeline Laurano, VP and Principal Analyst,
Talent Acquisition, Brandon Hall Group

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Madeline Laurano



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Madeline Laurano