People need to be recognized and appreciated.  It is a basic human need, however, one that is often forgotten in the hectic workplace. On top of this, recognition impacts your bottom line.  According to the Carrot Principle founders, Chestor Elton & Adrian Gostick, in response to “My organization recognizes excellence,” those companies that scored in the lowest quartile overall had an average return on equity (ROE) of 2.4 percent, whereas those scoring in the top quartile had an average ROE of 8.7 percent.

There are many non-monetary and low cost ways to recognize employees that will result in increased employee engagement, higher performance and morale, and a better overall work environment.

The best employee recognition is frequent, genuine, and timely (occurs right after the behaviour was demonstrated).  Employees know that it is usually their supervisor or manager who have the greatest exposure to what they are doing on a day-to-day basis.  As a result, rewards and recognition presented by the employee’s manager or supervisor are perceived to be the most authentic.

It is important to ensure recognition is specific so employees know why they are being recognized.  This allows them to replicate the recognized behaviour going forward.  We know that recognition where specific actions or behaviours are identified is also perceived to be more genuine.

Here are some ideas for how to recognize your employees.  Embed these  recognition practices into your day-to-day work life and realize immediate results.

  • Say Thank-you.  It may sound simple, but how many of us make time to do it?  Remember to call an employee into your office just to thank them in person for a contribution they have made (don’t discuss any other issue during this conversation); or ask your boss to attend a meeting with your employees where you thank individuals and groups for specific contributions.
  • Flex those hours. If there’s one free reward that rises above the rest, it’s flexible work schedules. Experts agree that flex time is a a perk that offers the most gain with the least pain.
  • Career Development Opportunities.  Provide your employees with regular learning and career development opportunities; and express an interest in their learning and career goals.  Allow employees to attend meetings in your place when you are not available; or provide the option to work on special projects that align with the employee’s career interests.
  • Throw a Pizza Lunch for Your Team.  This will help with team communication and show your employees that you appreciate their efforts.
  • Communication.  Take a few minutes at the beginning or end of each day to talk in-person with your employees.  Share important information with them so they know that they are kept in the leadership loop; and take the time to get to them as people, and learn a bit about their interests outside of work.
  • Handwritten notes.  In the age of email, hand-written thank-you notes go a long way.  Asking a member of the executive write a thank-you note to an employee; and then having the employee’s manager present it with a verbal thank-you can make a real impression.  This will motivate employees and show them that their efforts truly do not go by unnoticed.
  • Offer a swap.  Allowing your best employees to pick their own projects or trade tasks with a colleague empowers and rewards them at the same time.
  • Call In For Meetings.  Having your employees work from home occasionally and call into meetings can greatly boost productivity and relieve stress for employees.  Giving employees the flexibility to go to their kid’s soccer game and avoid the commute to work are much appreciated benefits.
  • Offer a Free Pass.  When an employee does an outstanding job provide an unexpected paid day off.  This should be in addition to the employee’s vacation time or time in lieu.  This indicates that you recognize the employee is adding value, and that it is appreciated.