Rewarding efforts important, but sometimes tricky

Shelly Williams
Shelly Williams

Heartfelt recognition from an employer can ignite a fire in an employee or be received as a negative acknowledgment. It all depends on how the business or organization approaches the process. A proverb comes to mind: “When you reach the top, keep climbing.”

Scouring the library, online reports, articles and studies can leave an employer feeling torn over implementing an employee recognition program. Regardless of what some studies report on employee recognition, I find value in the optimistic authors who maintain genuine, well-intended recognition encourages and revives employee productivity and improves profitability.

Experts have identified numerous benefits and pitfalls of employee recognition, including a few indisputable facts. Recognition can evoke an emotional response from the employee that can have significant effects on the organization.

In an April 2015 World at Work report, the survey data concluded managers and employees definitely don’t share the same perception of their organizations’ recognition processes. When managers believed the recognition programs were effective, employees didn’t agree. If managers believed recognition programs weren’t working, employees believed the programs worked better than managers thought.

Here are some employee recognition facts:

  • Investing in employee training results in employer expense, but benefits the bottom line.
  • Employee recognition is time-consuming when done well, but increases productivity.
  • Meaningful recognition can be difficult to identify for each employee and will express true gratitude to the employee.
  • Well-designed recognition has the potential to result in 6 percent higher net profits for the organization.
  • Dissatisfied and disengaged employees result in lower profits.
  • It’s important to value the organization’s most important asset — employees.

Every organization needs and desires their employees to interact positively with customers, co-workers and stakeholders. The employee is commonly the first person with which a customer connects and constitutes the basis of their first impression. In the fast-paced communications environment of today, a negative customer encounter can be tweeted, e-mailed, blogged and posted on Facebook or a number of other social media sites. The old rule of thumb that an unhappy customer will tell 10 people about their experiences has changed significantly. If today’s unhappy experience goes viral, it can have a devastating effect on a business or organization.

With greater competition for employees, it makes sense to implement or upgrade an employee recognition program.

Here are some ways to institute a recognition program with proven results:

  • Match the recognition to the employee in offering food, gift cards, movies, time off or training.
  • Determine whether a given employee prefers quiet recognition, public recognition or humor.
  • Genuinely thank employees.
  • Market your recognition program to employees.

I hope you take time to celebrate the accomplishments of your business and employees. Make this a fun and pleasurable project and, when appropriate, include others.