The 7 Most Important Forms of Employee Recognition

If you want your employees to stay employed in your organization—and maintain high morale—you’ll need some kind of employee recognition program in place. When surveyed and asked what leadership could do to increase employee engagement, 58 percent of respondents claimed “giving recognition” as a top choice. Recognition shows employees that their efforts are appreciated, and encourages other employees to engage in similarly positive behaviors.

That said, some employers are overwhelmed by the number of ways that employee recognition can be given—and don’t understand the best ways to dole it out.

The Most Important Forms

Instead of giving your employees recognition in every conceivable way, or overcomplicating the situation, concentrate your efforts on these most important forms of employee recognition in your business:

  1. Landmark gifts. When an employee reaches an important milestone, such as celebrating 10 years with the company or retiring, it’s important to give them a gift as a token of your appreciation. Depending on the nature of the celebration and your budget at the time, this could be a bottle of wine, a nice watch, or a plaque that commemorates their accomplishments. In any case, it makes the employee feel valued and shows your other employees they have something meaningful to work toward.
  2. Performance reviews. You don’t have to wait for anniversaries or major celebrations to acknowledge your employees’ efforts, however. You can also dole out employee praise and recognition in the form of regular performance reviews. Though they may seem tedious at times, conducting performance reviews gives your supervisors the chance to tell your employees how they’re doing—and keep them strongly motivated to continue in their career path.
  3. Though not all forms of employee appreciation need to come in the form of money, regular raises certainly never hurt. Giving an employee a raise after they’ve hit a major milestone or celebrated a major accomplishment gives them an incentive to work even harder, and discourages them from seeking employment elsewhere.
  4. Similar to raises, bonuses are typically less strenuous on your company’s budget, and fall perfectly in line with a company surplus—which often happens when your team does an amazing job. Handing out bonuses at the end of the year, or after a major event shows that you understand your employees’ contributions to those successes.
  5. Public acknowledgment of individuals. In some cases, a public acknowledgment of an effort is enough to constitute employee recognition. For example, let’s say one of your employees stayed late to work on an account, and landed the sale the next morning. Taking a moment to call attention to that accomplishment makes the employee feel like their efforts were worth it, and may encourage other employees to follow suit. It only takes a few minutes, and won’t cost you a dime.
  6. Teambuilding and socializing events. It’s also a good idea to organize teambuilding events or company outings on a regular basis. These events are a way to show thanks to your employees, but also give your employees a chance to socialize with one another and form closer connections, which they can used to be even more successful in their daily teamwork. Consider hosting a monthly appreciation event.
  7. Group celebrations. In the wake of a big accomplishment, such as meeting your sales goal for the year or finishing a major project, celebrate the win with the entire team. You could end a Friday early and take everyone out to an early dinner, or organize a gathering to some entertaining event in your city. All that’s important is that your group is together, and you’re recognizing a win together.

Finding Cost-Efficient Alternatives

The biggest limitation you’ll likely find here is the cost associated with employee recognition programs. Even though research shows that employee recognition is one of the most cost-efficient ways to improve employee engagement, doling out raises and bonuses regularly can put a burden on your organization.

If cost is a concern, turn your attention to more cost-efficient alternatives; instead of giving a cash bonus, give a bonus in the form of an extra day off, or additional workplace privileges. Instead of buying lunch for everybody, call for an extended lunch and ask everyone to bring a dish for a potluck. The idea here isn’t to spend money on your employees, necessarily, but to recognize them for their work and accomplishments, and you can do that without sacrificing your budget.

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