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Improve Employee Recognition This Year

This time of the year we think about the year ahead and what we want to do better in this year versus the one before. As a company owner or department manager, one area that is sure to make you a better leader, and your company a better place to work, is improving employee recognition.

Although employee engagement is on the rise in the US, a Gallup study*** found that 66% of employees are still either disengaged (meaning they are not cognitively and emotionally connected to their work and workplace – basically “checked out” of their jobs) or actively disengaged (not just unhappy in their work, but they let that unhappiness show in their words, attitudes and actions). So this area has a lot of room for improvement!

Below I have put together a few “resolution tips” to get you started on a path to better employee recognition in 2020.

Make Recognition a Frequent Event

Once a year (or even once a quarter) recognition is not enough to keep the “recognition fires burning” for your employees. They need to feel they are valued all throughout the year. Some ways you can increase frequency without breaking the budget include:

  • Sending an email, or better yet writing out a quick handwritten note, when you catch an employee doing something above and beyond.
  • Making “shout outs” at department or company meetings a regular event – highlighting a person or team that has put in extra work that week, or finished a big project, etc.
  • Bringing in breakfast or taking the team out to lunch to acknowledge meeting a project deadline, working extra hard to get an order out, etc.
  • Instituting a peer “Round Robin” award where the previous winner of the award passes it along to a new winner at the next dept. meeting or other specified time/event in recognition of an employee going above and beyond.
  • These informal recognition ideas show employees that you care and notice when they are doing their best.

Schedule Recognition

As much as we would like to be able to keep up with our recognition goals, day-to-day burdens often get in the way of the best laid plans. A way to keep yourself on track is to take some time at the beginning of the year to “schedule recognition” into your task list or calendar:

  • Add the hiring anniversary dates of all of your team members into your calendar so that you can present them with an anniversary card or gift on their special day.
  • Set aside some time each week or month to review what recognition opportunities are happening in your department. Is the team finishing up a big project? Has a direct report received a
  • new certification level, or met a sales or other personal goal? Write these down and make sure you recognize them in some way (at the dept. meeting, with a note card, etc.)
  • Schedule monthly one-on-one reviews with each of your reports for the whole year. Even if a date has to be changed as it gets closer, at least there is the reminder to have the meeting, and these meetings provide yet another opportunity to recognize an employee’s good works. This is also a great venue to recognize employees who do not like to be called out in front of their peers.

Make Recognition Match Company Goals and Culture

The New Year is also a great time to begin work on establishing more formalized recognition programs and policies. Use that “new year energy” to draft up ways to improve company-wide recognition programs that match the culture and the goals that are important to your organization. Some examples might include:

  • If your company values volunteerism, have your corporate communications dept. highlight an employee’s volunteer activities in the company newsletter.
  • If your company does not have any formal recognition programs, consider implementing them. For example, years of service programs are popular in many companies because they recognize the most number of employees. You can decide if you want to recognize employees all at the same time of the year (say at the holiday party), or if you want to award each person on their milestone anniversary date (or both).
  • Consider peer-to-peer recognition, as peers can sometimes see what management might miss. It empowers workers and gives companies another excuse to reward great work.
  • For companies with continuous improvement and/or quality improvement programs, institute recognition programs to recognize employees and departments that reach specific goals and certifications in these areas.

Make 2020 the best year ever for your employees and your company. Recognition is the cornerstone to employee engagement. Make sure your employees know they are appreciated, and employee engagement will rise accordingly.

Here is to a happy and prosperous 2020!

By Ann Condon - Communication Manager, E.A. Dion, Inc.

***Employee Engagement on the Rise in the U.S.
August 26, 2018