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This month we've focused strategically on employee recognition and appreciation. We've explored why personal insights and personalization is important in:

Now it's time to examine the "how." How do you show employee appreciation in the most beneficial ways? Is it difficult? Is it worth the effort?

Before we dive into the “how” let's acknowledge the “why”.

Why is Proper Employee Recognition Important?

A recent survey discovered that 55% of respondents said they were planning to switch jobs. Why? Their number 1 reason was lack of recognition. Another survey, this one by Recognition Source, shows 69% of employees reporting they would work harder if they were better recognized.

People want to be treated like they matter. We can see employee recognition is strongly linked to job performance, retention rates, and turnover. With the excessive costs associated with replacing a seasoned, trained employee, a little recognition and engagement can go a long way.

So, let’s break down how to do this. First, it helps to know your team. Our behavioral assessment is an ideal way to uncover personality traits, strengths, and challenge areas that could take years to identify. With a variety of reports to fit any need, including building an employee recognition strategy, you’ll be ahead of the curve in no time.

Top 5 Ways to Appreciate Your Outgoing/Social Employees

  1. Put achievements on display: It's simple and shows employees you notice them. For example, a daily sales tracker or leaderboard is a terrific way to highlight current wins and promote friendly competition. These can be in person or online, depending on your office setup, and can be a fun way to let colleagues get in on the praise.
  2. Be vocal: Call out an individual's big wins or achievements in company-wide meetings. If a colleague praises a coworker in a meeting, let that coworker know. During our Omnia Sales and Service meetings we schedule 10 minutes to shout out wins and achievements. It’s a fantastic way to brag on yourself or a colleague and wrap up a meeting with positive energy.
  3. Go public with your appreciation: Go beyond company meetings by highlighting achievements to customers, partners, and principles through signage or social media. Take a photo, share how they earned this award or acknowledgement, and talk about how much you value their effort.
  4. Have a lunch and learn: It's a little out of the box, but trust us, social people enjoy sharing what they love. In fact, most of us like a chance to let others know interesting things about ourselves. Set aside a time when a team member can share a hobby or interest, skill or technique, with the team. It's a fun way to get to know each other and learn what you may never have thought to ask about.
  5. Write a LinkedIn recommendation: It's personal, meaningful, and an endorsement for someone's hard work. This is an underrated gesture that communicates your appreciation of a team member, but also that you care about their future success—even if it's not at your company. Plus, it's free. LinkedIn recommendations are the gold star of public recognition because it's truly public.

Top 5 Ways to Appreciate Your More Reserved Employees

  1. Survey your staff: Ask your employees how they would like to be recognized. You may be surprised, but you can feel confident that you reward your team with something they value.
  2. Thank you notes and cards: A physical, hand-written note thanking a staff member for their work can go a long way in a digital world. Whether it's a simple post-it note or a quality piece of cardstock, placing this on their desk or mailing it to their home office can be a huge esteem boost.
  3. Do paid charity days: This can be individual or part of a thoughtful team building exercise. Survey the team for common goals and interests. Match up small teams or encourage charity days to show employees you appreciate their work in and out of the office. Of course, make sure your staff is paid for this day. Otherwise, you don't recognize them as valuable – you simply force them to give up a day for free.
  4. Say "thank you"! It's easy, free, and quick, but often overlooked. Some business owners take for granted that employees are there to do the work. A thank you is such a straightforward way to show appreciation. Studies show there's a noticeable difference in attitude between a staff whose boss genuinely thanks them compared to one where the staff never hears praise. While not everyone needs a "thank you" to do a respectable job, it won't hurt. Plus, it's going to mean a lot to those who do need to hear it periodically.
  5. A hobby-related gift card: Not every "thank you" comes at a cost, but a little gift can go a long way. My manager gifted me an Etsy gift card after a project I tackled as a thank you with a personalized note referencing some things we'd discussed in the past. That was months ago, and I still think about it fondly. Listen to what your employees get excited about and remember one or two little things when the opportunity arises. It goes a long way, trust me.

Winning solutions for every type

  1. Give employees a real choice and a real voice: Build a strong culture by encouraging employees to speak up and have management listen. Does your staff get to choose any projects they work on? Do you actively listen to their ideas or concerns and act on them when possible? Genuine appreciation is foundational.
  2. Give rewards that are career-based: This doubles as a bonus for your business as well. Sending employees to leadership training or an online business-related class, even if not directly related to their current job tasks, shows your employees you're invested in them and their careers.
  3. Encourage continuing education: Whether you help offset educational costs or provide time off to attend educational events, you're showing you appreciate them so much you want them to keep growing in their careers.
  4. Highlight how your business has a positive impact on the community: Whether through green energy initiatives, matching donation programs, or volunteer hours (consider combined with #8 above), let your employees know the work they do is appreciated by you and by the community.

Now you know why employee appreciation is important for retention and productivity and how it affects your company culture and bottom line. Adding personalization through behavioral assessments, team surveys, or even town halls, you can make sure your team is engaged, valued, and recognized for the work they do.

Remember, everyone appreciates praise, but not everyone appreciates it in the same ways. Understanding and implementing recognition in personalized ways will have positive effects.

Imagine. It’s Valentine’s Day. Cooking isn’t necessarily your strong suit. But, in the interest of romance, you decide to cook your significant other a beautiful gourmet dinner. You do your research, pull recipes from various sources, and nearly lose your nerve more than once given the amount of steps, potential for error, and mountain of dishes this endeavor will require. You hate dishes, ‘cause who doesn’t? Still, you just know your valentine will be blown away by your effort alone, and if it turns out wonderfully, that’s icing on the cake. You even bake the cake. This is a Valentine’s Day gift that will go down in history; you’ll be lauded at parties (when we get to go to parties again) and praised for weeks, maybe months, to come, which is just how you like it.

The day arrives. You made a giant mess, felt extremely frustrated more than once, burned at least one thing that you may need to throw away, and couldn’t figure out what “fold in the cheese” means. Still, the dinner turns out better than you ever could have imagined. Everything is mostly delicious.  Your valentine looked impressed upon sitting at your impeccably set table, gave a few “yums” throughout the meal, and said, rather blandly in your now gourmet opinion, “That was great.”

What?!

No exclamation of “WOW, you did this all for me? I know cooking isn’t your thing, I’m so incredibly impressed, I can’t wait to tell everyone how thoughtful this was!” No thank you, no giant hug, no exclamations of pure delight with every new bite. Sure, you know your valentine is great and tends to be a bit reserved with praise. But still, it stings. Not only did you work hard, you worked hard outside of your comfort zone. And frankly, you love exuberant praise, preferably in front of other people. You know, so they can praise you too!

The fact is, people need recognition, personally and professionally. We need it to feel energized and engaged at work. An engaged, energized workforce means higher productivity, better employee and customer satisfaction and ultimately higher profits. It’s a win-win. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, think about showing the love to your employees, if you don’t already.

Why? Gallup’s State of the American Workforce report says that 51% of employees are not engaged and that one of the best ways to engage employees is to recognize them for their work. The report also states that only 3 in 10 workers “strongly agree that in the last seven days they have received recognition or praise for doing good work.” Ouch.

The data shows that people who feel recognized are more energized. It’s counterproductive to think that employee recognition is unnecessary. We could ask ourselves, “What happened to doing a good job because you are getting paid?” or we could ask ourselves how to get an even better job from everyone by understanding the nuances of individual needs. It’s why managers who understand how each person on their team ticks get better results, more loyalty and less turnover. For example, when you know one person loves verbal recognition, while another prefers a private pat on the back, you can manage and motivate to those preferences. Each employee values you as a leader because you worked with their preferences rather than leading one way.

Effective managers know that they can’t lead in a “one size fits all”, “my way or the highway” way. That’s a lot of ways to get nowhere. Instead, use the Omnia Assessment to navigate the personal preferences and nuances of your team. When your strongly social salesperson tops the leaderboard for sales, you know a public celebration is just the ticket, preferably with the chance for her to give a speech. On the other hand, your reserved bookkeeper might cringe at the thought of giving a speech but does want the team to know how his accomplishments moved the team forward. Think about a shout-out in the company newsletter, along with a personal, private word of thanks from you.

Personalization is key. Not only in how you provide the recognition based on personality type but also in the messaging. Competitive people like knowing how they rank, analytical people want the facts, big-picture types prefer broad strokes, while meticulous planners want to hear all the details.

Recognition should be meaningful to the individual. You could even recognize people for achieving personal goals, like finishing a marathon or learning a new language. Encourage peer-to-peer recognition as well to create a culture of appreciation.

Of course, it’s easy to forget in the hustle and bustle of work and home life to look for opportunities to recognize individual achievement. As managers, we get preoccupied like anyone else. The best thing you can do is make it a job task and a regular habit, just like completing a required monthly report or turning in your expenses. Set reminders, put it on your calendar, or use whatever works best for you to develop that habit. Remember, when you go the extra mile for employees, they will go the extra mile for you.

Also, if your valentine makes you a gourmet dinner, recognize the effort… gush, rave, give a toast.

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