Employee recognition ideas for a daily work routine

by Robert Hicks, group HR director

Employee appreciation is hugely important and as HR leaders it’s the one thing we all need to get right because the less your people feel recognised and appreciated, the higher your levels of attrition will climb. But recognition is a delicate balance and needs to be genuine. If you suddenly start throwing all sorts of gifts and bonuses at your employees, while they’ll love it at first, you’ll only see a short-term impact.

In my time as an HR professional, I’ve tried, failed, and succeeded at appreciating the people I’ve been fortunate enough to work with.

Here are the top ways to be successful at recognising your employees:

Use the power of thank you
I’ll start with the simplest first – thanking people for the work they do is an absolute must. Think back to the last time you did something for someone and they didn’t say thank you. How did that make you feel? Not too great, right? If you don’t build a thank you culture in your organisation then that’s exactly how your people will feel when they come into work each day.

We use thank you in a big way at Reward Gateway to build our recognition culture. From our simple Thank You eCard (above), which any employee can send to another through our reward and recognition platform, to our quarterly Thank You Awards, which allow employees to nominate each other for a reward no matter where they are based on the globe – it puts the power of being appreciated in their hands and is personally one of my favourite parts about Reward Gateway.

Take an interest in the person behind the employee
One thing people love most is to be able to talk about themselves, even the shyest of individuals would prefer to tell you about their day then listen to you about yours. If you’ve read Dale Carnegie’s book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” (if not, you definitely should), then you’ll already know all about this.

What I recommend is starting a blog on your intranet (we have several on our internal communications platform, otherwise known as boom!) or dedicating a portion of your newsletter specifically to your people. Ask a different person each week to talk about themselves and what they do outside of work. They’ll love being able to talk about themselves and you’ll get the added bonus of colleagues strengthening bonds over things they never knew they had in common.

Appreciation marches on its stomach
Never underestimate the power of food and how it can make your employees feel appreciated. Richard Hurd-Wood, Reward Gateway’s Chief Product Officer, often jokes that all you need to do to show developers how much you appreciate their work is by giving them beer and pizza – there’s a lot of truth in that joke and it highlights how powerful food can be in showing appreciation. Next Monday, order enough pizza for everyone in the office, tell them it’s for all of their hard work last week, and watch as they spend the rest of the week with a smile on their face.

Give line managers the appropriate tools
Appreciation flows down through a workforce so it’s only natural that line managers need those above them to provide the best tools to own their own recognition programmes. As part of the HR team, it’s your job to deliver an easy-to-understand and cost-effective way to recognise employees, present them to your board, and agree on a budget which can be designated to reward and recognition. Once line managers have a budget, it’s equally important to show them appreciation by allowing the distribution of their awards how they see fit. A recognition platform that combines traditional eCards (for everyone) with monetary awards preassigned to line managers can help.

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Let your people develop
Appreciation isn’t just in what you reward your people with, allowing them to develop and giving them the tools to advance their careers, whether inside or outside of your business, shows that you care about their future. Having the right learning & development in place shows that you care about how your people progress, and as soon as they see that – they’ll feel hugely appreciated.

Recognising your employees cannot fall to the bottom of your to-do list. These are just five examples of showing how much your value your employees, but it’s certainly not an exhaustive list. By starting with these five ideas, you’ll be on a better path to engaging your employees and drive up their productivity.