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Recognition: The Key to Great Company Culture

As both a leader and a team member, it is important to recognize individual and team accomplishments – even when they are small. By doing so, you acknowledge their efforts and progress toward larger company goals. This recognition will boost the energy and mood of the team, which will spread throughout the office in a way that can ultimately increase engagement and thus, the bottom line.

  • Recognition as a performance driver. A recent white paper commissioned by a Fortune 100 Best Company to Work For investigated the top motivators for excellent employee performance. The study asked respondents, “what is the most important thing that your manager or company currently does that would cause you to produce great work?” Overall, 37% of respondents stated that more personal recognition would encourage them to produce better work more often. Respondents mentioned autonomy and inspiration, but recognition was the most dominant.
  • Keys to recognition efforts. All of this makes sense, but there is not a one-size-fits-all approach for developing a recognition culture your employees will use and appreciate. There are some guiding principles to keep in mind, though. Be specific and timely. Recognize people for their particular accomplishments, not general behaviour. Do so in a time frame that makes sense, not months after the fact. Consider recognition tools beyond compensation and bonuses. There is a wealth of data available that people aren’t motivated by money as much as we think. Consider tickets to events, gift cards or even small trophies or mementoes that can be readily displayed. Keep in mind that none of these things needs to be a massive investment of time or resources. Short, handwritten notes or posts on company social media can go a long way.  

Most importantly, though, be sure to connect these achievements with your company’s overarching mission, core values and strategic plan whenever you can. Connecting the everyday accomplishments of your employees with long-term goals and the identity of the company will allow them to feel connected and more empowered. 

  • The benefits of recognition. Showing appreciation for your employees is ultimately a low-cost effort that pays big dividends. Recognition can lead to happier employees, and happier employees are on average, 12% more productive, according to a study published by Fast Company magazine. Appreciative leaders are ultimately more appreciated leaders. It would help to build another critical element in the workplace – trust. Relationships matter, not only for productivity but also in the development of a company culture that can both attract talent and ultimately keep it. High employee turnover can be very costly and even drag on productivity and employee engagement. 
  • Start with thank you. The first step to developing a distinctive recognition culture is pretty simple—always remember to say thank you. From there, you can design whatever style of recognition program that will work for your specific company. If you need ideas, a simple Google search on recognition culture can yield a wealth of cool programs from companies large and small. For more tailored assistance, consider speaking with an HR consultant. 
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