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Five tips for effective employee recognition

Lack of recognition is one of employees’ main grievances toward their employers. Compensation is clearly a key part of recognition, but other, more subjective factors are equally important and should also be taken into consideration.


Check in with your employees regularly

That’s the idea behind Checkpoint, the new appraisal system from IBM, which was completely redesigned with 380,000 employees from the company[1]. IBM staff now receive a summary of their short-term goals and performance indicators every quarter, enabling them to understand in detail how they are contributing to the success of their team, department or company. Providing these personalized, clear-cut goals on an ongoing basis has made the program a hit with employees, whose motivation and engagement continue to rise, along with the company’s retention rate.


Treat your employees like your customers

The employees at Charles Schwab Corp., an American brokerage firm, can take advantage of the company’s expertise just as if they were customers[2]. They can seek out guidance from financial advisors, take part in budget management workshops, receive reductions on stock portfolios and stock options, and sign up for attractive savings plans. The company has formed a virtuous circle by calling on its employees to help their colleagues, which boosts employees’ willingness to support each other and their sense of recognition – a tangible way of demonstrating that they count just as much as customers!


Reward creativity

At OpenDNS, an IT security firm, employees are recognized for their work inside – and outside – the company. OpenDNS has set up a program called OpenDNS Art Experience, which enables employees to express themselves by creating artwork of any kind – painting, dance, music, drawing, etc. – related to a subject relevant to the business. The artworks are shown at an annual event, which reveals hidden talents while embodying the company’s values through a group project.


Encourage peer recognition

Forbes recently published a study that found that employees feel more appreciated when they receive recognition from their peers than from their manager. This is probably because their coworkers understand exactly what everyone does on a daily basis, so they are able to express their gratitude more accurately and sincerely. With the support of Sodexo, E.ON[3], a Germany utility company, set up an initiative designed to encourage employees to send thank-you messages to their coworkers. In two years, the company has recorded a 13% increase in employee motivation and a 33% increase in the number of employees who feel valued. In all, 76% of employees received a message from their peers, indicating the popularity of the initiative.


Surprise your employees

The more closely your recognition program is in sync with milestones at your company, the more relevant and impactful it will be for employees. However, these major events should not get in the way of informal, off-the-cuff expressions of recognition, which are all the more effective because of the surprise effect. Take, for instance, Deschutes Brewery in the US state of Oregon, where managers and employees can partake in “random acts of fun” that draw inspiration from a unique, unforeseen event. Did it snow overnight? Managers at the craft brewery will organize a snowshoeing trip that same day, followed by a beer-filled meal at a mountain hut. It’s a great way of rewarding employees while uniting them behind the product culture!


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Dwindling growth has forced many companies to reassess the amount they spend on employee benefits. Yet these cutbacks do not always pay off in the long term because they can significantly affect team motivation and productivity. Although cost reductions are sometimes unavoidable, employers must not lose sight of the need to incentivize. In fact, they need to be smarter and find new ways to motivate their employees, and especially their…
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