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Kick employee recognition up a notch – 5 tips for effective employee recognition

by Managing Virtual Teams on September 15, 2014

In theory, we work for money, but we also work for recognition, for the opportunity of growth and to feel useful. Companies that are conscious about their need to recognise the work done by their employees will have more motivated and thriving employees. Here are five ways to thank your employees successfully:

1. Adopt a recognition culture

I am a fan of procedures, but when talking about recognition, I don’t see how it can be done using work procedures without being seen as an obligation from managers. So instead, I propose that you insert it in your company culture or team culture. Make sure that in your company, employees (at all levels) recognise each other.

Psychologists say that recognition should take place near when the action has happened, so it needs to occur as soon as possible in order to reinforce the positive behaviours you want to encourage. Since you cannot be everywhere at the same time, make your managers aware of the need to recognise the work that has been done properly. There are great team activities that help us realise how important recognition is for us. Start with yourself by thanking your colleagues or staff each time you see something done well. Recognition is contagious!

2. Forget about the employee of the month award

If you think that choosing an employee of the month is enough, you are wrong. By choosing only one person you are discouraging the rest of the team. Recognition needs to be for everyone, not just for one worker. If you want to pin-point somebody because that helps your organisation know each other better, turn the “Employee of the month” award to “Tip of the month by …”, and have different employees share tips about how they do something. It can be something related to work-life balance or something specific about their job. This way the person can share their knowledge and be appreciated without making the rest feel like losers.

3. Give conscious thanks at least once a day

This action can be in your personal and your professional life. I recommend you try to give thanks to somebody or to a group at least once a day. Whether it is in person, by email, over the phone or what’s app, it doesn’t matter. If you can do it in front of other people the impact is even greater, but what you need to make sure you do is explain why that person deserves your gratitude. It can be because you know it took them a lot of effort or time, or simply because the result was spectacular. Accompany the “Thanks!” with an explanation of why that is so good. You will see how good that feels.

4. Be spontaneous

Giving great perks to your employees is a great way to have a good work environment, but do not expect perks like paid lunch, parking, gym membership, etc to be understood as recognition. During the first few weeks at work the newcomers will see them as something really positive, but after a while they will take them for granted. On top of great perks, I advise you to be spontaneous and empathetic towards your employees with unplanned gifts or words of gratitude.

5. Give opportunities for growth

When there are openings or new projects, offer them to your current workers first before looking outside. One of the things that keep us motivated is the opportunity of growth and improvement at work. There is no better way to appreciate somebody’s work than to give them an opportunity when it appears, by doing that you show trust, appreciation and involvement in their lives.

Anna Danés
Anna worked in the web sector before founding Ricaris have a nice day (www.ricaris.com) in 2009, a successful services company providing distributed solutions for companies in the web sector. Managing Virtual Teams (www.managing-virtual-teams.com) is a new consulting product bringing together all of the experience across the distributed teams of Ricaris, and putting it into bite-sized courses, virtual team activities, and consulting packages. Follow Anna @virtualteams

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Managing Virtual Teams
Anna Danés worked with several Internet start-ups, across three different continents, before founding Ricaris (www.ricaris.com), a successful Internet services company. With her knowledge of managing remote staff, and her firm beliefs that companies are responsible for creating a better world and work environment, she has recently created Managing Virtual Teams, a consulting service for companies dealing with distributed staff.
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