Employee recognition can take many forms, ranging from an informal “thanks” for a job well done, to formal awards that your organization hands out. A few different ideas for staff recognition include the following:

  • Annual award (or awards) that recognize behaviour that is important to your organization. For example, if “innovation” is a core value of your organization, you can create an award that is given to an employee who best exemplified this value throughout the year.
  • Peer awards. Similar to the above, but co-workers nominate each other for awards based on specific criteria. For example, an individual is nominated by their peers for the annual “customer service” award. This award can be presented at an annual staff gathering or other get-together, for example.
  • Financial recognition. One way to tangibly reward people for good work is through financial incentives. Of course, this type of award isn’t publicized, but would normally be part of the performance appraisal process. A pool of money can be set aside each year that is awarded (in bonus form) to employees for exemplary work.
  • Informal recognition. Let’s say you have monthly staff meetings. You could take a few minutes at each of these meetings to give kudos to a staff member or two who have gone above and beyond, successfully completed a project, etc. in the past month. This type of recognition doesn’t cost anything yet is a simple way of increasing engagement.

Now, however you go about recognizing employees, ensure that it is done in a way that ups engagement. The last thing you want is for a recognition process to backfire and end up being de-motivating for employees! One way to do this is to ensure that an objective process is in place for formal recognition. Even if the sole decision maker is you, the business owner, a process can help to safeguard that no one is overlooked. When giving informal recognition, be aware of keeping all staff in mind – it’s easy to get into the habit of only recognizing your top performers. As well, be mindful of how staff may want to be recognized. While some are very comfortable receiving public praise, others may prefer a quiet thanks sent their way. If you know your employees, you likely know who falls into which camp! When there is a financial component to recognition (for example, annual bonuses), involve other leaders in helping to make these decisions, where appropriate. If you are a small business owner with eight employees, you may be making these choices independently. However, if you have 50 employees, and you don’t interact with each of them on a daily basis and/or know all of their contributions, involve your management team in these decisions, so that they are more “holistic” in nature.

The above are just a few examples of how you can recognize staff. Most of these don’t cost a lot of money yet can play an important part in overall staff engagement. As we know, employees who are happy at work are not only likely to stay with your company but will contribute to a positive work culture.

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