How You Can Give Employee Recognition

10 December, 2014

Traditionally, employee recognition has not been a core public relations activity, but you can be a catalyst in your organization. As a manager, supervisor, or even as a peer, you can initiate it in your area. You could start doing it discreetly, not even telling others about the change, but doing it and observing the results.

You can spontaneously praise people – this is highly effective. To many employees, receiving sincere thanks is more important than receiving something tangible. Employees enjoy recognition through personal, written, electronic and public praise from those they respect at work, given in a timely, specific and sincere way.

KEEP IN MIND, to build a successful Employee Recognition program, it is not just about gifts or tangible items.  While those will reinforce your program, day-to-day recognition is is still the most important type of recognition. Day-to-day recognition brings the benefit of immediate and powerful reinforcement of desired behavior and sets an example to other employees of desired behavior that aligns with organizational objectives. It gives individuals and teams at all levels the opportunity to recognize good work by other employees and teams, and it also gives the opportunity for them to be recognized on the spot for their own good work.

Be alert for opportunities to recognize others and take the initiative to do something. You can nudge your supervisors to do more of it and to encourage it in other departments.

The best formula for recognizing an individual for their efforts is:

  • Thank the person by name.

  • Specifically state what they did that is being recognized. It is vital to be specific because it identifies and reinforces the desired behavior.

  • Explain how the behavior made you feel (assuming you felt some pride or respect for their accomplishment!).

  • Point out the value added to the team or organization by the behavior.

  • Thank the person again by name for their contribution.

Recognition is a key success factor even at higher levels of management. Dr Lawrence Hrebiniak, Professor of Management in the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, states, “What’s absolutely critical…is that the organization celebrates success. Those who perform must be recognized. Their behavior and its results must be reinforced…Managers have emphasized this point to me time and time again, suggesting that, as basic as it is, it is violated often enough to become an execution problem…Give positive feedback to those responsible for execution success and making strategy work.” 

If you would like to know how to initiate and conduct employee recognition activities, you can find lots of ideas, and the best framework and guiding principles from Kim Harrison's e-book, Creative ideas for employee recognition,

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