‘Well Dones’ Shouldn’t Be Rare

Step up employee recognition

What can make my employees happy other than money? I need to know.” Those two sentences comprised the entire contents of an anonymous e-mail I recently received from a reader. Clearly, this individual was concerned about the professional contentment of the workers in his charge. I know that his inquiry is a question many managers, who are seeking ways to retain their top talent, are asking. Maybe you are.

Well, here’s something simple that, when part of a comprehensive retention strategy, will help bring a smile to the faces of your staff: acknowledge the good work that they do. A pat on the back or a word of praise after they have worked hard to deliver for the company goes a long way toward building individual and group morale. But more than making your employees feel good, it makes good business sense.

“Rewarding strong performers is a smart business strategy in any hiring environment,” says Liz Hubler, executive director of OfficeTeam, an administrative staffing firm headquartered in Menlo Park, California. “By recognizing outstanding results, managers motivate employees to achieve greater productivity while also enforcing behavior they want others to emulate.”

In a survey conducted by Office Team, 60% of executives polled believed that companies do a somewhat effective job of acknowledging top performers, while 33% believe that staff recognition efforts are inadequate. In an age where retaining talent is crucial to the prosperity of companies, managers need to do a better job of letting employees know that the work they do matters. Hubler offers four ways to do that:

  • Speak up. If you don’t tell your employees that they’ve done a great job (even though you think they did), they won’t know. Don’t assume they know you appreciate it.
  • Beyond the bank. Not everyone expects–or wants–money as a reward for a job well done. Be creative and offer a day off, recognition during a staff meeting–whatever personally motivates your performers.
  • Document it. Let others know that your people are getting the job done. Express your appreciation, for example, via e-mail to the big boss.
  • Celebrate often. Reward employees as often as they deserve it, not just at the end of the year or a major project. This will contribute to a more positive work environment.
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