Employees in any workplace desire—and deserve—praise. We’re all familiar with performance reviews and “Employee of the Month” awards. But are those old-school tactics really getting at the heart of employee praise? It’s doubtful.
Properly praising employees can be as simple as allotting time during your weekly all-hands meetings for someone to, for instance, thank colleagues for lending a helping hand on a critical software implementation. Carving out time for praise fosters an atmosphere of teamwork and boosts employee engagement.
This also can be done in writing. Some workplaces use “A Drop in Your Bucket” or “You Rock” notices that one employee can fill out to praise another employee. These pieces of paper then can be hung up in cubicles or on bulletin boards, and be displayed as points of pride.
If those methods don’t work for you, ask your employees how they want to be praised. You might be surprised by what they tell you.
Employee praise doesn’t have to be an expensive proposition. You don’t have to show appreciation with engraved plaques. Sometimes, employees merely want an “Atta boy” or “Atta girl” from a colleague.
Here’s what the Gallup Business Journal, put out by the Gallup polling organization, said in 2011 about employee praise:
“Personalized feedback and recognition aren’t just ‘frills’ that make workers feel good. Rather, they are crucial predictors of positive workplace outcomes such as employee retention and productivity.”
Back in 2006, Gallup reported that less than one-third of American workers could strongly agree that they’d received any praise from a supervisor in the previous seven days. Since then, Gallup research has shown most workers in the U.S. and around the world don’t think they’re receiving enough praise from their supervisors.
What does this mean for employers?
Giving recognition and praise for doing good work can mean a bump in revenue and productivity. It also can prevent employees from fleeing for another employer. In 2006, Gallup reported that employees who say they’ve not been adequately recognized at work are three times more likely to indicate they’ll quit their jobs within the next year. That sentiment probably hasn’t changed much in the years since this research was done.
“When people don’t get enough recognition, they ask themselves, ‘What am I doing this for? Nobody cares,’” David Grazian, who then was director of corporate taxation at Granite Construction Inc., told the Gallup Business Journal in 2006. “It’s not just about money. People want recognition; they want to be noticed and appreciated.”
Data certainly backs that up. According to a 2013 survey for the Society for Human Resource Management, 71 percent of HR professionals say appreciation by an employee’s direct supervisor has the greatest effect on employee engagement.
So, what is your workplace doing to encourage employee praise by supervisors—or by anyone else, for that matter? If your answer to that question is flimsy, then it’s time to shore up your company’s approach to employee praise. After all, you don’t want to see an exodus of employees and a drop in revenue, do you?
Chuck Gordon is co-founder and CEO of SpareFoot, an Austin-based startup that operates the country’s largest online marketplace for self-storage.
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