Managing a workforce and giving people the support they need to reach a high level of performance is undeniably a challenging task. As an HR manager, you need to have a clear strategy and a strong understanding of what motivates and engages your employees if you want to succeed on this front.
Fortunately, there are some simple measures any business can put in place to demonstrate its appreciation for staff and strengthen connections between managers and their teams.
One of the most important steps of all is also one of the most basic: recognizing people's achievements.
Why recognition is important
When employees are working hard every day and delivering clear results for their employer, they want their efforts to be noticed. If you're hoping to build strong and lasting relationships with your most valuable staff, fundamental provisions like salary and a basic benefits package are only part of the equation. As well as financial remuneration, loyal workers are looking for a sense of genuine acknowledgment and appreciation for their contributions to the business.
Research shows that, by going out of their way to celebrate small wins and efforts on a regular basis - rather than waiting for a performance review or appraisal, managers can increase employee engagement by 83%.
LinkedIn analysis of 32 million profiles has also suggested that recognizing your most committed and valuable workers by giving them promotions or opportunities to work in other areas can make a big contribution to employee retention.
Someone who receives a promotion has a 70% chance of staying with you for another three years. A worker who makes a lateral move has a 62% probability of still being with the company in three years' time, but the figure drops to 45% for an employee who stays in the same position.
This is backed up by separate research showing that receiving recognition and rewards is one of the top motivators for an individual to stay with their current employer (69%), just behind interesting work (74%).
Finding your approach to recognition
Recognizing your staff for their hard work is clearly important, so how should you go about it? There are various approaches you might want to consider, such as:
Praise for a job well done can be particularly meaningful when it comes from a peer or fellow team member who really understands the hard work and effort that’s gone into the final result. Cross-team appreciation - such as a salesperson making a special effort to thank the marketing department for a great lead - can also have a big impact. Managers can set a positive example by offering regular individual praise for daily wins and achievements, and encouraging the rest of the workforce to do the same.
The achievement of significant milestones can be a good opportunity to deliver praise and bring attention to the big contributions certain people or teams have made to the business. One of the most obvious examples of this is someone reaching a major work anniversary, which can be marked with a celebration of their hard work over the years. A team completing a key project that unlocks big opportunities or benefits for the business could also justify special acknowledgment.
Introducing formal recognition events can be a good way to ensure that bringing attention to big achievements and successes is ingrained into your company culture. This could take the form of newsletters that highlight great work, dedicated employee appreciation days or annual award ceremonies.
Recognition in action
Employee recognition and rewards platform Bonusly highlighted some real-world examples that illustrate how a culture of appreciation can deliver valuable results for businesses and their staff.
At SnackNation, the CEO personally thanks staff on their work anniversaries and birthdays by giving out handwritten notes to acknowledge the work they do every day and some of their most recent achievements. An employee at the company described handwritten notes as an "extremely underutilized form of appreciation".
Among the more unusual ways of bringing attention to good results is the spontaneous applause tradition that exists at Typeform, a company that creates forms and surveys. When someone does something worthy of praise, any other member of staff can start a round of applause and the whole office joins in. While this might sound "a little cheesy and salesy", it makes the recipient feel good and provides a "nice, momentary break for celebration", according to a Typeform employee.
However you choose to go about recognizing and thanking staff for their hard work, you're likely to find that people will be more positive, engaged and committed to helping the business succeed if their efforts are being noticed.