Employee Engagement, Employee Relations, Rewards and Recognition

Employees are the prized possession of any organization, it’s the employees who are the biggest contributors to an organization. The best part about appreciation is that it won’t cost you a single penny. Moreover, it will give you long term returns in terms of employee loyalty.

Having said that employees are the greatest assets of the company, it also has to be kept in mind that getting a fine cut of employees that are truly working for the advancement of the company is a rare thing. Once you have formed your set of employees you should not let them go, preserve them. Because hiring new employees is a very hectic and time taking procedure. Moreover, you don’t have the guarantee that you will get someone of the same caliber again.

Adopting to the following suggestions will help you master the skill of imparting appreciation -

Recognition: There is no rocket science that employees must be given the recognition for their work they deserve. It serves as a morale booster. It can be anywhere, face to face, in between a meeting or even written. Recognition for their achievements makes the employees believe that the organization is backing them.

Recognition may include appreciation or incentives in the form of raises or bonuses. Different organizations may have a different way of providing recognition and the same applies to the time interval for providing recognition.

Tell them about the growth opportunities: Make your employees aware of your organization’s plan for them in the future. Tell them about the opportunities they will get to explore in the coming days. Make them believe that their career is in good hands. Making them know about the growth possibilities will develop a sense of belongingness in the employees and they will most likely remain with the organization. Making them aware of future opportunities, will mentally prepare them for the upcoming challenge, and the burden won’t be felt.  This also serves as an evidence for them that the company is caring for them.

Allow flexibility: It’s pretty obvious that employees will be tempted to work under an environment where they are provided with flexibility in terms of working conditions, other factors remaining constant. Nobody wants to work like a robot on a stringent schedule, failing to which will attract punishments.

Provide a certain level of flexibility to your employees only to the extent it is within the decorum of the organization. The loss of the organization shouldn’t be the outcome of providing flexibility at any cost.

Flexibility will work as a token of appreciation and trust and will make them stick with the organization.

Flexibility can be in terms of working remotely or from home or coming late to the workplace and doing late shifts to compensate, having a weekday off and working on Sundays, etc.

Stand out performers on a group assignment to be appreciated in person: Most of the times each member of a particular group doesn’t contribute equally. So, while expressing gratitude to the group it needs to be taken care that the high performers should receive higher amounts of appreciation than their peers. Otherwise, it will discourse the top performers might take it as a setback and might not come up with his A-game next time around.

Checking in on a co-worker or employee: Employees feel a sense of connection when a senior manager has an informal chat with them. It will be a great thing for the managers if they could recognize some of their team members by their names. Calling them by name will establish a personal touch in the professional boss to employee relationship.

Let’s say, for example, one of your employees has taken sick leave and you are aware of the fact, then it is more of a responsibility of yours to drop a personal text to him. Asking about how’s he feeling. This will make them realize that their presence is integral to the office.

Value their opinion, try implementing a bottom-up approach to management: The office environment must not have a unidirectional flow of information. It should not be like all the decisions are solely made by the C-suite executives. At least there should be some of the participation of the employees in the decision making.

The employees should be asked for their opinions may be on a public forum or personally. This encourages a feeling that their views matter to the organization.

Taking opinions isn’t enough in itself unless you solicit their opinions. Mere asking for opinions is of no good the management needs to work on their opinions and try and cope up with the look holes they mentioned.

Take their opinion not only about the work they are assigned but also about the organization as a whole. Ask them what are the areas in which the company needs to work to create a sound working environment.

Maintain transparency:

Never make your employees believe that there is some kind of bias prevailing in the office and they are not being valued proportionally to their worth. There should be a clear briefing to the employees of what’s happening in the office.

The incentives and promotion should be provided based on a set of predefined parameters and strictly given to them who stand tall on those parameters. A set pattern will make the employees believe that they too have an equal chance of getting a promotion or getting a wage hike if they lived up to the expectations of the company. Also, it will encourage the feeling of trust among the employees towards the company.

As rewards provide direct compensation or benefits: Arguably there is no better form of appreciation than reward. Give rewards to the employees who have lived up to the expectations of the organization. This will serve two purposes, firstly it will stimulate the employees who are being awarded to work even harder to maintain their status and make them believe that the company truly cares for their efforts. Secondly, it will motivate the employees who didn’t receive the reward, to strive hard to try and bag the reward the next time around.

What it will do is that it will create a healthy competitive environment at the workplace. Each employee will try to give their level best to top the employee chart.

Rewards can take the form of –

  1. Bonuses, commission as a percentage of benefit made to the organization.
  2. Gift cards, appreciation letters.
  3. Company-sponsored vacation.
  4. Extra comp days or PTO.

Give them challenging assignments - When you give them some tasks which are apart from their routine work and need some extra expertise by telling them that “I believe that you can do this very well, you have the skill to crack this out”. It makes the employees believe that the company has faith in them.

That assignment should match the expertise and skill set of the employee.

Make some of your bright employees to train new recruits, this will make them believe that the company wants the same set of skills in the upcoming employees as theirs. This will be a great morale booster.

Don’t take your people for granted:

Agreed that you are paying them for their services, still, you need to value them, and not only value but make them feel that they are a part of the company.

Careless attitude towards employees might indicate them to find someplace where they will get the value for their work. Even though you don’t want them to leave and do care for them, conveying them this fact is equally important.

Try practicing PDA: Public Displays of Appreciation:

Appreciation by immediate managers might sound monotonous after a certain point of time. Employees might find it as a routine. But when it comes to being appreciated publicly everyone loves it. As a manager, you should publicly recognize your employees for their good deeds.

Appreciating them in front of clients or company bosses will serve as a great motivation for them.

Invest in their career development programs: Employees would love to be associated with an organization that invests in their career advancement. Enrol them in company-sponsored training programs that are designed keeping in mind the skill base of each employee. The employees who have been the top performers for the session should be given special preference in these training programs.

Feedback: Feedback has to be an integral part of the employee evaluation program of any organization. Every organization should take it as their duty to provide feedback to their employees. Feedback should be genuine and should not overlook the mistakes committed by the employees. Employees should know how the company is considering its contribution. This will help them to introspect if they have received slightly negative feedback. It will make them receptive to constructive advice and will encourage them to perform their duties even more efficiently.

Mistakes to be avoided by managers.

While appreciation is key to employee motivation, it should also be kept in mind that the managers should not be swayed away in emotions. Appreciation has to be kept streamlined. Here are some points which needs to be taken care of while providing appreciation-

  1. Don’t implement sudden changes in your appreciation pattern or practices - If you are not in the habit of appreciating your employees previously, then don’t start doing so all of a sudden. It will appear superficial, and you will sound overcompensating. Start steadily by asking them what sort of appreciation they would like to welcome. This will impart a message that you are truly willing to bring it into practice and not just trying to fulfil a mere formality.
  2. Not practicing routine company or industry procedures - Performing the likes of annual reviews, quarterly check-ins, and nominating employees for awards might appear to be a waste of time for some managers. They may feel like avoiding these routine procedures. For them, they may be routine procedures but for employees, they mean a lot. Employees strive hard to receive those awards at the annual meeting. Employees might feel cornered, they might conclude that they are neglected by the managers.
  3. Expression of gratitude should be meaningful and not vague and superficial - Appreciation should not appear like you are overgeneralizing. Appreciation should be specific and should be based on solid grounds. Otherwise empty or hollow gestures won’t be of any help, sooner or later employees will get the fact that these appreciations are just for the sake of formality, and the entire purpose of appreciation might go in vain.
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