The underrated impact of gratitude in the workplace
Workplace recognition has always been an integral part of employee engagement and retention programs. It does not always hit the mark, but when it does, it can do wonders for a company even during challenging times.
If we look at the concept of recognition closely, we can reduce it to three parts: recognizing, valuing, and rewarding. Recognising or noticing the efforts of an employee is just the first step, as leaders must follow this up with rewards and efforts to make them feel valued.
This is important to know as the American Psychological Association revealed that at least 93 percent of employees who said they felt valued by their company said they are motivated to do their best at work. Of that bunch, only 20 percent planned to leave the organization.
“When recognition hits the mark, employees are five times as likely to be connected to company culture and four times as likely to be engaged,” a separate Gallup study noted, adding that recognition is a major contributing factor in employee loyalty.
The different forms of recognition in the workplace
There are certain ways company leaders and managers can recognise and appreciate their employees. For managers who work closer to the ground, fostering a culture of recognition starts by forming relationships with their team members.
Getting to know the employees on a personal level, their dreams, aspirations, motivations, and personal values help managers understand where their employees are coming from. It makes giving out recognition and appreciation more genuine.
And while personal relationships and interaction provide avenues for simple but impactful acts of gratitude, higher management can do their part in cultivating a culture of recognition and appreciation by making efforts on an organisational scale.
On this level, forms recognition may come in these forms:
1. Written Commendations
Written commendations involve expressing appreciation through documented means such as emails, notes, or formal commendations. This form of recognition allows for a lasting record of an employee's achievements and serves as tangible evidence of their contributions. Written recognition provides employees with a physical representation of their hard work.
2. Tangible rewards and incentives
Tangible rewards go beyond verbal or written acknowledgment and involve providing physical tokens of appreciation. This could include cash bonuses, gift cards, certificates, or other tangible incentives. Tangible rewards add depth to verbal and written recognitions, making employees feel more valued, especially since tangible rewards require more effort on the part of the leaders.
3. Public recognition
Public recognition involves acknowledging an individual's achievements in front of peers, either through team meetings, company-wide announcements, annual events, or other public forums. This usually takes the form of employee of the month programs and other similar projects. Giving deserving employees a shoutout boosts their morale and creates a positive team culture.
4. Development opportunities
An underrated form of recognition, providing avenues for development to show gratitude can be transformative to an employee. If you reward a staff member for an outstanding performance with free upskilling opportunities, it can be as impactful, or even more impactful, done handing out financial rewards, as the employee can use this in advancing his career.
5. Promotion and appraisal
Promotion is perhaps the highest form of gratitude. But to have this option available, HR leaders must continuously study the organisational structure and business direction to create avenues for career development. For example, a senior member of the sales team who has exhibited strong leadership in a challenging scenario may merit a promotion to a lead role.
6. Peer-to-peer recognition
Encouraging peer-to-peer recognition creates a supportive work environment. It empowers employees to acknowledge and appreciate the efforts of their colleagues. Having a time and space for them to mingle provides an avenue for peer-to-peer recognition. During team building sessions, for instance, part of the activities can be about employees giving affirmations to their colleagues.
The role of timing in recognising employees
Recognising and appreciating employees in a timely manner is a crucial aspect of cultivating a positive workplace culture. Timely acknowledgment reinforces positive behavior, boosts morale, and enhances overall job satisfaction.
Timeliness in recognition involves acknowledging and appreciating achievements as close to the event as possible. This immediacy reinforces the connection between the action and its positive acknowledgment, making the recognition more impactful.
Providing real-time feedback allows employees to understand the direct correlation between their actions and the recognition received. This approach helps in reinforcing desired behaviors and encourages employees to continue contributing positively.
Employee of the Month programs, when executed effectively, contribute significantly to a culture of recognition. These programs are designed to honor outstanding employees and can be a powerful tool for motivating the entire workforce.
The impact of personalised recognition
In the modern business environment, where a high preference for personalised employee experience exists, consistently adding a personal touch to organisational forms of gratitude can make a huge difference.
Sending customised appreciation emails, creating personalised video greetings, or giving out personalised merchandise items can take additional effort, but these acts of gratitude will give your employees more reasons to engage and become ambassadors of your brand.
Beyond personalised rewards and appreciation messages, another approach to gratitude in the workplace is to celebrate both professional and personal milestones with the employees. Whether it’s a month of exceeding expectations or a member’s wedding, it is important that you celebrate it as a team.
Personalised recognition not only acknowledges individual contributions but also contributes to a workplace culture that values the unique qualities of each employee, fostering a more positive and motivated workforce.