Why Employee Recognition is Important for the Employee Experience

Why Employee Recognition is Important for the Employee Experience

The last year has certainly tested your employee’s resilience and dedication to your business. But do you think your employees feel recognized for the work they are doing? Is the employee experience suffering as a result of a lack of adequate recognition? Looking at the difficult circumstances employees have operated under and the uncertainty ahead, are you providing a foundation for appreciation and recognition? Or has that part of your employee engagement program remain staid over the past years?

The Link Between Employee Recognition and Engagement

Making sure you think about how you reward employees for a job well done shouldn’t be taken lightly. Employee recognition drives employee engagement, and your staff performs better work when they feel appreciated and valued. And your employees are paying attention. In 2019, Gallup recorded the highest amount (35%) of “engaged” workers in the US. Gallup defines the “engaged” as those who are highly involved in, excited about, and committed to their work and workplace. The reported 35% rate is the highest in the survey’s 20-year history. 

So your employees are engaged, in their work and with you, but recognition is hard to get right. And most of the time, we default to the unimaginative and bland “shout-out” as the answer.

Ah, the shout-out. One of the overused gestures that bring admiration to a worthy team member, workgroup, or factory location. It might come in the form of a mention in the newsletter or in a monthly email and WOO HOO…

Right?

But is that the best we can come up with in 2021?

Does this truly have a positive impact on the overall employee experience?  

Reimagining Recognition for the Employee Experience

Deconstructing the shout-out and rebuilding it for 2021 is long overdue. Innovating on this idea is critical and requires you, your team, and leadership to find ways to engage and recognize teams. We have talked about the increasing number of employees facing burnout and the time for real recognition is here to help reinvigorate those dedicated workers. 

The first step in changing how we think about recognition has to be built on a foundation of authenticity. Finding your authentic voice and approach to employee recognition will be the guiding force behind innovating in this area. Employees know when recognition is forced. They’ve read that staid newsletter “thank you” and the placeholders in a slideshow for that one fleeting moment of recognition. Were those genuine? Or was it because it’s always been part of the presentation or newsletter?

The Five Languages of Workplace Appreciation

One of my favorite resources on the subject of employee appreciation comes from the book “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.” Authors Gary Chapman and Paul White summarize the focus on employee experience and engagement in such a powerful and succinct way: 

“When relationships are not nurtured by a sense of appreciation, the results are predictable. Team members will experience a lack of connectedness with others and with the mission of the organization.”

Breaking out of this mold and genuinely recognizing and celebrating your people can come via a simple, short video that a leader can record and share with their team. Their voice delivers that personal touch and can enhance the employee experience, not just for the recipient, but for everyone who sees it. This kind of campaign is one of the most engaged with across all of our clients. During the pandemic, hearing from your CEO or COO, who is in their home, or behind a mask on the shop floor, shows their care for the employees and the work they are doing.

Building a Recognition Culture to Improve the Employee Experience

Taking a new approach in 2021 to this challenge will require rolling up your sleeves and searching for the meaning of employee engagement at your company. But the work that your teams have put in over the last year should be the motivation you need to make sure your recognition program truly delivers. And this comes down to a strong partnership between HR, IC, leadership, managers, and even employees. Everyone is responsible for the employee experience and workplace culture.

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