Employee Recognition…A Little Goes A Long Way

One simple action can be taken by managers in gaining support and engaging their key employees on their team.  “Recognize excellent work”, and do it right away. When you give recognition, be specific in your comments as to what they did well for the team or company, and do so regularly.

Research shows that:

  • Handwritten notes always achieve greater impact than emails
  • Public recognition in a meeting or in a peer group make people feel even more appreciated
  • Awards presented in a public setting best convey appreciation of the work done

In two recent studies involving nearly 3,500 employees, from startups to Fortune 100 companies, it was found that recognition directly affects morale and engagement.

A study conducted by Staffing Industry Analysts, surveyed 2,415 employees of organizations.  The data from the survey suggests a strong correlation between loyalty and acknowledgment. Among the 512 U.S. employees who say their company has strong recognition practices, 87% feel a strong relationship with their direct manager. That number dips to 51% among those who reported a lack of such practices at their companies. Recognition frequency also plays a role. For those who say they receive some form of appreciation more than once a month, 82% describe a strong bond with their bosses. When that occurrence drops to less than once a month, only 63% feel those strong ties.

In another study, it was found that 7 out of 10 employees who report they’ve received some form of appreciation from their supervisors say they’re happy with their jobs. Without that recognition, just 39% say they’re satisfied. Here, too, frequency plays a big role. Among employees who were recognized for great work in the past month, 80% feel fulfilled at work. That number declines sharply with time: 75% satisfied (recognized in the past 1-2 months); 71% (past 3-5 months); 69% (past 6-12 months); 51% (past 1-2 years); 42% (more than 2 years ago).

The same study found that a new leader can foster an immediate boost in employee job satisfaction–by 31 percentage points–just by recognizing those who have never received any appreciation from their superiors.

Not only does recognition have a powerful effect on those being acknowledged, it also has a significant impact on peers who see great work being rewarded. The study showed that just by publicly presenting some employees with a “years of service” award, managers could increase all employees’ sense that the organization cares about them.

The more frequently you recognize employees–as often as weekly or at least monthly, the more engaged they will be.  Rewards and recognition matter.