In this episode of Relationships at Work, communications and leadership nerd (and host) Russel Lolacher highlights the importance of care and connection in employee recognition, over prescriptive and and planned.
It's important to recognize our employees, to improve retention, morale, productivity and more. But how we recognize those team members and the quality of that recognition is as important, if not more so. We can't look at it like a checked box exercise but rather one where we're intending to build a relationship.
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How important does our organizations view employee recognition? And how much of a priority is it to be a part of the company culture?
Because saying it is and doing it are two VERY different things.
I wanted to start this episode by first defining “employee recognition”. I’m all about definitions after all. But in doing so, it actually reinforced the problem I’m trying to illustrate. That recognition is not a checked box exercise.
So I did a quick google, and found that the definition of recognizing employees is only in recognizing efforts and behaviour that is linked to the company’s purpose, mission and values. WTH?
Look at this in the moment, a team member does an amazing job for us by dropping everything to put together a slide deck and spreadsheet for an unrealistic deadline.
So unless any of that is an example of a keyword or phrase from the company’s purpose, mission or values… we say nothing?
Hmmm innovation? Nope.
Integrity? Not really.
Collaboration? Fun? Customer-centric? Uh Uh.
FYI – I googled generic corporate values.
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong and wrong.
Or only thanking staff because your Performance Review said you should? Or because it’s in your communications plan?
Employee recognition is recognizing our people for doing great work. For being great humans. Work related, not work related.
If we want to use words like belonging, then we need to look at the person, the whole person and recognize them for their achievements, behaviours and efforts.
Recognizing your employees for what they do and how they do it is essential for improving morale, motivation, productivity, retention rates, company culture and engagement.
Want some stats?
· Deloitte found recognition increases employee engagement, productivity, and performance by 14%.
· Gallup, employees who only receive recognition a few times a year from leaders, are 5x more like to be actively disengaged at work.
· Reward Gateway did a study in Australia that found 63% of employees would rather work where they were praised and thanked, than for a company paying them 10% more (but no praise)
So let’s do better. Sure, you should look into an employee recognition program. And though that will show that the c-suite supports recognition, it doesn’t really showcase us as leaders knowing and fostering the relationships at work with our team and colleagues.
Let’s make it personal. Sincere. Relevant. Now what could that look like?
- Instead of speaking at a staff event with generic remarks, tell a single story of how working with them helped you in your employee journey or made the organization better.
- Instead of a generic "best wishes" on a birthday card or "congrats" for a milestone note, leave a note about their family, a personal story of their achievement or a project you're looking forward to working with them on.
- After a branch meeting, when our team member asked difficult but important questions, tell them how much you appreciate that they do. It might lead to difficult conversations and uncomfortableness, but the fact they challenged the status quo to improve the organization should be recognized.
Look at each circumstance. Understand how that team member or colleague is best recognized. Then do that. And do it often. Over and over.
Like our team members matter. Because they do.