Last updated on August 15, 2023 at 01:17 pm
A bad employee experience is why employees quit. One of the leading reasons why people quit is because they have a toxic manager, and that’s because managers have a big impact on your experience with a company. And even a great manager can’t make an employee stay in a bad environment.
The last few years have tested your employees’ resilience and dedication to your business. Your response to the crisis and changing workforce—or lack thereof—has an impact. Employees are reevaluating their priorities, many employees have chosen to quit and move on. But by focusing on improving the employee experience, you can retain your people and still thrive. Do your employees feel recognized for the work they are doing? Is the employee experience suffering as a result of a lack of adequate recognition? Or has that part of your employee engagement program remained static over the past few years?
The Link Between Employee Recognition and Engagement
How you reward employees for a job well done shouldn’t be taken lightly. Employee recognition drives employee engagement, and your staff performs better work when they feel appreciated and valued. But employee morale and engagement have taken a hit.
Gallup has been recording some of the lowest engagement rates in a decade. Gallup defines the “engaged” as those who are highly involved in, excited about, and committed to their work and workplace. But the highest rate of engagement has only been 36% in the survey’s 20-year history. It begs the question, what are we getting wrong about engaging the workforce?
It’s because we aren’t paying enough attention to the whole employee experience. Recognition is hard to get right. And most of the time, we default to an unimaginative and bland shoutout as the basis of our recognition programs.
But is that the best we can come up with?
Does this truly have a positive impact on the overall employee experience?
Reimagining Recognition for a Positive Employee Experience
Reimagining how we recognize our employees is long overdue.
Innovating your recognition efforts is critical and requires you, your team, and executive leadership to find better, more meaningful, ways to engage and recognize teams. We have talked about the increasing number of frontline employees facing burnout and the time for real recognition is here to help reinvigorate those dedicated workers.
The first step in changing how we think about recognition is to build your recognition program on a foundation of authenticity. Finding your authentic voice and approach to employee recognition will be the guiding force behind innovating in this area. Employees know when recognition is forced. They’ve read that generic newsletter “thank you” and the placeholders in a slideshow for that one fleeting moment of glory. Were those genuine? Or was it because it’s always been part of the presentation or newsletter?
The Five Languages of Employee Appreciation
One of my favorite resources on the subject of employee appreciation comes from the book “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.” Authors Gary Chapman and Paul White summarize the focus on employee experience and engagement in such a powerful and succinct way:
“When relationships are not nurtured by a sense of appreciation, the results are predictable. Team members will experience a lack of connectedness with others and with the mission of the organization.”
Breaking out of this mold and genuinely recognizing and celebrating your people doesn’t have to be complicated. It can come via a simple, short video that a leader records and shares with their team. Their voice delivers that personal touch and can boost morale, not just for the recipient but also for everyone who sees it.
This kind of campaign is one of the most engaged with across all of our clients. During the pandemic, hearing from your CEO or COO, who is in their home, or behind a mask on the shop floor, shows their care for the employees and the work they are doing.
The Components of a Great Employee Recognition Program
You need to give employees meaningful recognition to improve their experience at your company. That’s why the most successful employee recognition programs include:
- Specific and relevant recognition. Recognition that includes details about the employee’s contributions are always more impactful than something generic.
- Timely feedback. Whether you’re giving praise or helping to coach someone, the more timely the conversation, the better.
- Appreciation shown in a variety of ways. Whether that’s praise or rewards, diversifying how you give feedback helps employees feel like you mean it. Not to mention, not all employees like the same kind of recognition, so this helps you meet the needs of your diverse workforce.
- Recognition that is tied to the bigger picture. The best recognition programs are the ones that also reinforce your values, desired culture, and policies. Tying your recognition to key business outcomes is key to encouraging that kind of behavior and making your employees feel good at the same time.
- Praise for big and small feats. This is important because all work is important. The big accomplishments and star performers deserve their praise, but to make recognition ingrained in day-to-day culture, you have to celebrate the little things too.
Building a Recognition Culture to Improve the Employee Experience
Taking a new approach to employee recognition will require rolling up your sleeves and searching for the meaning of employee engagement at your company.
The work that your teams have put in over the last few years should be the motivation you need to make sure your recognition program truly delivers. And this comes down to a strong partnership between HR, Internal Communications, leadership, frontline managers, and even employees. Everyone is responsible for the employee experience and workplace culture.
About the Author
Michael Marino is the Vice President of Marketing where he oversees the creation and execution of theEMPLOYEEapp’s marketing programs. Before joining the team, Mike held marketing leadership positions in both the B2B and DTC spaces in channels that include media, manufacturing, and professional services. Mike is passionate about demand generation, mar-tech, and being able to create campaigns that connect with Internal Comms audiences.
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