Five Frugal Ways To Recognize Employees

Customer Engagement | Employee Experience

Reading time: 4 minutes

Trusted Experience Management Partners

While the pressure to produce ever-higher levels of productivity can de-prioritize employee recognition, lack of personal recognition in the workplace can have negative impacts on employees and the bottom line. As Robert W. Fuller writes in Somebodies and Nobodies: overcoming the abuse of rank, “Eliminating deficiencies of recognition in the workplace is proving to be as good for the bottom line as eliminating nutritional deficiencies were in the past for the productivity of day laborers.” Consistent workplace recognition increases employee engagement, which has been shown to increase customer engagement.

Fortunately, the thought usually counts more than the cost in employee recognition. You don’t have to spend big bucks to make your employees feel like a million bucks. Here are a five simple, inexpensive ideas to help you start recognizing your employees as the superstars they are:

  1. Post positive customer feedback. Positive comment cards make everyone feel good. Highlight what your employees do right, and they’ll better understand what kind of performance you’re looking for.

  2. Encourage and facilitate peer-to-peer recognition. Management is not the only place that recognition should come from. In fact, employees often know more than management does about how their peers perform. Take advantage of this by creating opportunities for employees to recognize each other. For instance, as Cindy Ventrice highlights in her book Make Their Day! Employee Recognition that Works, Wells Fargo Internet Services Group created a system of internet-based e-cards (for specific actions) and e-wards (for excellence over time) to encourage peer-to-peer recognition. A more informal approach would be to simply provide the materials and time for employees to write thank-you notes to each other. Speaking of which...

  3. Give hand-written thank you notes. Did an employee put in the extra effort to make sure that a project got finished on time? Or do you appreciate how a certain employee is always on time, pleasant, and ready to work? Sit down and write three or four sentences to thank them.

  4. Include small treats. Even a treat as small as a five-dollar gift card to an employee’s favorite coffee shop can make a huge difference in their day. Individualized presents like this don’t have to be expensive to be effective. Sometimes, intangible treats are the most rewarding. For instance, if you’d like to acknowledge that Sally is a great team player, why not let her decide which team she works with next?

  5. Give them time, not money. There are many ways to give your employees more time. For example, if they had an especially productive morning, you could give them an extra long lunch break.

The “pay it forward” nature of recognition in the workplace means that peer-to-peer recognition increases once employees feel recognized by management. As Cindy Ventrice writes, “People who get recognition are more likely to give it…working in an environment where recognition is common predisposes people toward offering it themselves.”

~Monica Nolan, Account Manager

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Posted on 06-03-2009