A Monday Musing…on a Tuesday: Employee Recognition

Labor Day (the reason for my musing delay) is a day to recognize American workers for all of the efforts they have put in throughout the year. Though many of us may think of it more as the symbolic end of summer or the time our kids go back to school, it’s important to remember its original intent: recognition.

Employee recognition is a pivotal part of creating a successful organization, without which you cannot hope to keep a motivated workforce. Human behavior is guided by many factors, and psychologist and business people alike have differing views on what those are, but recognition is widely accepted as an important component of behavior.

You are all likely familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which places recognition right near the top of the pyramid under “Esteem” – the need for confidence, achievement and respect by others.

Image from Wikipedia

The book, Winning with a Culture of Recognition, discusses how recognition plays a significant role in employee engagement. “Too often, recognition is believed to be a “soft-skill” – a nice-to-have component if managers are willing to do it, but certainly nothing to push for. Recognition, when done strategically, is much more. It’s a data-driven business initiative that can have quite significant impact on a company’s bottom line,” says author, Derek Irvine.

Studies continue to show that organizations with employee recognition ingrained in their culture consistently outperform those without. But recognition doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated, even a simple thank you goes a long way.

So ask yourself when was the last time you called an employee just to say, “Great job!” If it wasn’t this week, it’s time to put more focus on employee recognition. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Low cost methods are great too, such as praising someone during a team meeting (public recognition goes far)
  • Implement a peer to peer recognition program
  • Be sincere, specific and timely
  • Link recognition to organizational values

And for the IBMers reading this blog, thank you for all of your hard work this year! 



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