HR Minute: Employee Recognition

By Claudia St. John

good-job-sticky-note-on-deskWith the holidays knocking on our doors, employers are starting to turn their attention toward employee recognition in the form of year-end awards/bonuses, holiday gifts, and other tokens of appreciation for a successful year. But, recognition is not just a year-end event. Here are some tips to make it an effortless part of employee relations on an ongoing basis:

Reward the extraordinary, not the ordinary. Recognition should be reserved for going above and beyond, not merely for doing what the job requires. If basic competence is the reward standard, how will employees be encouraged to go the extra mile?

Be flexible and open-minded. Recognition should be a pleasant surprise, not an expectation or the result of checking off pre-defined boxes. Look for unusual opportunities to praise employees, and be mindful of the fact that “going above and beyond” can look very different from one employee to the next, based on their strengths, personalities, comfort zone, etc.

Be timely. Just as disciplinary action should be within a reasonable period of time after an incident, recognition should be the same. Immediacy maximizes the impact and reinforces positive behavior. A delay only dilutes the meaning.

Tailor recognition. Don’t always do a gift card to the coffee shop next door to the office. Mix it up, taking likes, personalities, and motivational factors of different employees into account.

Be sincere. When an employee is recognized for their efforts, they should feel genuine appreciation, not like you’re just checking a box. Acknowledgement that isn’t sincere is not much better than no acknowledgement at all.

image courtesy of shrm.org