Keys to Talent Attraction, Retention and Engagement: Recognition, Part 2

Businessman offerLast week, I discussed how workers respond well when their efforts are recognized by management, and shared five best practices in establishing and running a recognition program for employees. Here, I share five more practices managers and companies can employ to attract, retain and engage their talent.

6. Equal does not necessarily mean fair. Employee recognition does not have to be equal. To make recognition meaningful, it needs to be appropriate for the effort or accomplishment. In a perfect world, all employees would be equally dedicated and successful, but in reality, it is unlikely that will happen. Organizations will generally have certain employees who consistently outperform others. If managers do not fairly recognize and reward these special employees, they will go elsewhere.

When I first started HR Solutions, I didn’t create bonus metrics; instead I determined the bonuses subjectively. The people who got the best bonuses had jaw-dropping expe­riences when they learned the dollar amount, and had abso­lutely no complaints. The people who got lower bonuses had an immediate inclination to grab onto the F word: favoritism. The first time someone accused me of this, I looked at the underperforming employee (who deserved a low bonus) and said, “You’re right. I do have favorites. My favorite employees are passionately engaged in their jobs and their performance results in supreme excellence and stellar customer service outcomes.” This instantly muted the criticism.

When the organization grew, we had to switch to a more socialist method of determining bonuses. The change caused some of my “favorite” employees to leave, likely because they thought others who didn’t come near them in performance were being rewarded with bonuses they didn’t deserve. Having clear bonus metrics in place was good for ensuring that employees knew what to expect based on their per­formance. However, I’ve gotten the best results from gen­erously rewarding top performers.

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To cut back on perceptions of favoritism, top performers can be rewarded more frequently in private. Making employee recognition equal is a risk that is not worth taking.

7. Do not overdo it. Although employees can thrive on recognition, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Over-recognizing can quickly dilute the meaning and heighten the risk of seeming insincere to employees. In addition, if employees are congratulated for every single task they complete, they could have little moti­vation to work harder or do a better job. In essence, just like many good things in life, it is best not to overindulge.

8. Determine appropriate rewards. Rewards and gifts are the cherry on top of recognition. While not always necessary, it can be a great addition to simply telling employees they have done a great job. With that in mind, the reward must be appropriate for the action or outcome. Giving a reward that is disproportionately smaller than the amount of time or effort expended can actually decrease the value of recognition, and possibly serve as a de-motivator.

9. Educate employees on your recognition efforts. It is important for employees to understand the importance that their organization places on recognition and the effort managers undertake to ensure that employees are recognized. For example, if managers are privately rewarding employees with gift cards or extra paid time off (PTO) for a job well done, all staff members should be made aware of those initiatives, but they do not need to know who received what. Managers can simply state X number of gift cards were given out in February, as well as X number of “Leave Early Passes.” When employees see the whole picture of actions taken to help increase their recognition and engagement, they are much more likely to have a positive viewpoint on the recognition they receive.

A best practice for involving employees is to ask for feedback on new initiatives they would like to see. Any changes that are made as a result of employee feedback should be com­municated clearly to staff members.

10. Encourage employees to recognize one another. To create a true culture of recognition, everyone should be involved. While senior leadership should manage organiza­tional recognition efforts, employees should be encouraged to recognize their colleagues’ hard work as well. A best practice for involving employees is to post a whiteboard in a high-traffic area where employees can publicly recognize each other. HR Solutions has seen a great response from employees through the implementation of our “Snaps Board.” Employees reg­ularly write on this whiteboard to congratulate one another on efforts and accomplishments. This idea can also be translated to a virtual environment through an internal intranet system. Management could also dedicate a few minutes of team meetings for employees to thank their colleagues who have recently gone above and beyond.

Recognition as Second Nature
Luckily, it is easy for managers to begin increasing recognition immediately. A great way to start a new initiative is by setting a calendar reminder to recognize one employee each day, and increasing this number over time. Another option is to pay it forward: tell employees that each time someone thanks them, they should thank two other people. This simple concept will increase recognition exponentially, helping everyone understand the true power of a thank you. When providing frequent recognition becomes second nature, Employee

Engagement should increase as well, creating a workplace culture headed toward organizational success.

MORE: Take Action and Retain Top Talent

Kevin Sheridan

Kevin Sheridan
Kevin Sheridan is a New York Times best-selling author, a frequent keynote speaker and the chief engagement officer of Kevin Sheridan LLC. He can be reached at kevin (at) kevinsheridanllc (dot) com.

Kevin Sheridan

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