Recognition is a central pillar of the most healthy, vibrant workplace cultures. Research has shown that organizations able to sustain high levels of employee engagement and productivity often practice a variety of methods for recognizing the contributions of employees on the organization and work group level. Sometimes this can mean a simple “thank you” from a manager or coworker, and other times the accomplishment calls for something more. Whatever the occasion, having a few guidelines in place for recognizing employees can mean the difference between an opportunity missed and a behavior positively reinforced. Here are a few rules of thumb:
Actions Speak Louder Than Words. Food Speaks Louder Than All.
I don’t know about you, but this blogger thinks just about everything is better when food is involved. And based on the swarming I’ve observed—and, yes, participated in—around the party platter at none too few workplace celebrations, I tend to think I’m in the majority here. So if you haven’t already, consider folding treats into your arsenal of recognition tactics. Your coworkers will appreciate the gesture, and the sugar rush will help them get through their busy afternoon.
Don’t Just Have a Ball.
Workplace parties can be great fun, but all too often we lose sight of their central purpose. While enjoying our office-sponsored happy hour or celebratory bowling party, we may forget that we’ve gathered to recognize the sales team for blowing through their revenue goal for last month. Avoid this mistake by practicing some verbal recognition at the beginning of the party. Thank your employees for their hard work and dedication, and emphasize that this opportunity for the team to enjoy a break from their routine is a direct result of the recognized employee’s efforts.
Dance to the Beat of Your Own Drum.
Recognition is not a one-size-fits-all affair. Just as your workplace culture is unique, so should your recognition program reflect your organization’s special way of doing things. Take the employer of a friend of mine for example. Her organization, a sales outsourcing firm, prides itself on being a fun, irreverent, out-of-the-box kind of company. As most sales firms do, they expect their consultants to produce big outcomes and they incentivize their sales process. The traditional, corporate-style party would not resonate with employees at this organization. So instead, when an employee reaches her stretch goal for the quarter, she gets a fat bonus and hits her supervisor in the face with a pie.
Fit the Fest to the Feted.
Effectively tailoring a recognition program also means knowing your individual employees’ preferences and leveraging them to build a true connection. I can think of no better example of fitting the fest to the feted than a party my previous employer held for yours truly shortly before I moved out to Chicago to join the HR Solutions team. Having worked with me for several years, my erstwhile manager had observed that I’m a bit of a health nut. Imagine my surprise when I walked into the conference room for my going away party and was saw tubs of flavored hummus and vegetables where the cloying supermarket cake would usually be. What a feeling, to be a tub of hummus in an otherwise ceaseless procession of cakes! Needless to say, I was reminded that day how my coworkers truly knew and cared about me.
Make Recognition a Habit.
Finally, while grand gestures are lovely, everyday acknowledgment of your team’s hard work is a cornerstone to keeping employees engaged. In between the cakes, pies, and pizza parties, remember to thank your employees and coworkers for all they do. Their contributions make your organization stronger and the workplace a friendlier, more fulfilling place to be.