3 Tips for Creating a Culture of Recognition

Recognition is too often forgotten as a key aspect of performance management. Gallup research found that only one in three U.S. workers strongly agreed that they have been recognized or praised for their work in the past seven days. This is a problem, because employees who don’t receive adequate recognition are twice as likely to quit within the next year. Why does recognition matter so much?

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To quote Gallup: “Workplace recognition motivates, provides a sense of accomplishment and makes employees feel valued for their work. Recognition not only boosts individual employee engagement, but it also has been found to increase productivity and loyalty to the company, leading to higher retention.”

Recognition can come from any level of the company, including peers, but surveys found that the most memorable praise comes from an employee’s direct manager (28% of respondents) or the CEO (24%).

That’s important to note: A culture of recognition starts at the top, then trickles down into every fiber of the organization.

In that spirit, here are some tips for building a culture of recognition in the workplace.

More Recognition, More Often

Managers and leaders should take every opportunity they can to praise good work, because employees should always know that their hard work is noticed and appreciated. Don’t assume that they know, and don’t worry about giving too much positive recognition. As Dr. Karlyn Borysenko said in her webinar on Great Managers, the Magic Ratio of feedback is 5:1. Five pieces of positive feedback for every one piece of constructive feedback.

One survey asked respondents what their companies do to inspire them to produce great work. The most common response, from 37% of those surveyed, was “Recognize me,” which ranked higher than answers like “Pay me more,” “Give me autonomy,” “Give me a promotion,” or “Train me.”

Recognition should come instantly—if someone gives a great presentation, let them know as soon as the presentation is over. Don’t wait months until the next review. Be specific in telling the employee exactly what they did well and how they can repeat those actions in the future.

Connect Recognition to Company Values

Another way to ingrain recognition into company culture is to relate it directly to your organization’s core values. This can take praise to a deeper level—rather than simply recognizing an employee’s great work on a project, you can explain how that work epitomizes the organization’s mission and is a key step toward its big-picture goals. Employees will see that their work is integral to the success of the company, which should help to inspire their work on a daily basis.

Recognition Is More Than Words

There are so many ways to praise your employees. You can write positive feedback or publicly recognize employees at a team or company meeting. You can give them a handwritten note or gift. Or, you can take them out for coffee or lunch one-on-one. If the team has a big success, you can switch up the daily routine—go for a walk outside, take a long lunch, let them come into work a bit late or leave a little early, or take a group field trip.

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Another way to recognize employees is through your actions. That could be a raise or promotion, or it could be that you assign them a big new client or let them take on more responsibility. It’s a way to exhibit trust and demonstrate that you’re invested in their long-term growth. Want to learn more? Check out our other posts on employee engagement next!

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