Recognizing & Engaging Employees For Dummies book cover

Recognizing & Engaging Employees For Dummies

By: Bob Nelson Published: 09-28-2015

Improve engagement, productivity, and motivation with effective employee recognition

Recognizing and Engaging Employees for Dummies gives you the tools and information you need to improve morale, productivity, and personal achievement with a successful employee recognition program. Written by a world-leading authority in employee recognition, this book walks you step-by-step through the design and implementation process and describes the incentives that work, the behaviors to reward, and the mechanisms that must be in place for the program to be effective in the long term. You'll learn how to pinpoint the places where engagement and recognition could improve the bottom line, and how to structure the reward for optimal balance between motivational, financial, and organizational effectiveness. With clear explanations and a fun, friendly style, this book is your quick and easy guide to boosting productivity, profit, and customer satisfaction.

Most Americans who leave their jobs cite lack of recognition as the driving factor. When your employees feel appreciated, they stick around, work harder, achieve more, and drive your business onward and upward. This book shows you how to bring that dynamic to your workplace, with step-by-step guidance and helpful advice.

  • Design successful recognition programs
  • Create powerful incentives for employees
  • Reduce turnover, improve engagement, and drive excellence
  • Foster a happier and more productive workplace

Happy employees are productive employees. They get results. They innovate. They are the force behind the advancement of industries. Effective employee recognition programs are self-sustaining motivational tools that keep the fire lit. If you're ready to spark the flame, Recognizing and Engaging Employees for Dummies is the ideal guide for designing, implementing, and maintaining the program your employees have been waiting for.

Articles From Recognizing & Engaging Employees For Dummies

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10 Trends in Employee Recognition

Article / Updated 03-22-2018

Recognition has undergone significant changes in just a few generations. By far the most significant current trend in employee recognition is the impact technology is making on the topic. Following are ten other major ways recognition has evolved in today's work environments. It's decentralized and informal In the past, corporate headquarters or the human resources department was responsible for designing and implementing incentive programs. Typically, they'd oversee a few formal programs that provided infrequent recognition (often just at year-end). Today, the task of motivating employees falls to each manager in his or her sphere of influence, and recognition has become much more informal. Informal, spontaneous recognition — specifically tied to what matters most on a day-to-day basis — is even more important today due largely to the increased speed and constant change that occurs in business. Managers need to be more "in the moment" in managing their employees. In addition, employees these days expect more frequent recognition. Managers can't rely solely on formal programs run by HR to motivate their employees; instead, they must take a more hands-on ownership of that task and the connections they build with each of their employees. Formal recognition touches considerably fewer employees than informal recognition. When you limit your recognition programs to just those very rigid (typically timeline-based) awards, you're missing a lot of opportunities. It includes more reward options In the past, rewards tended to be formal merchandise that executives used in formal recognition programs like employee-of-the-month or retirement celebrations. Now options for employee recognition are much greater, and more times than not, managers give employees a choice. Greater choice equals enhanced motivation, because what's motivating to one employee may have no meaning to another. Consider these examples: Lifestyle rewards Time off Experiential rewards Training and development As companies ask employees what they value and then provide those things as they perform, the potential list of recognition possibilities will continue to expand. It's more frequent and comes from more sources The days of expecting annual awards or great performance reviews to motivate an employee for the next twelve months of their work are over; you must recognize deserving employees on an ongoing basis. This means that organizations need to have an expanded variety of recognition tools, and managers need to be creative, flexible, and frequent with their recognition. Fortunately, because recognition can come from any direction, the burden on the manager of having to provide 100 percent of the recognition for his or her employees has declined. Others within (and even outside) organizations are expanding the number of recognition opportunities that can occur. Recognition can come from peers and from customers, as well. You can also recognize your customers and vendors as a strategy for improving relationships, encouraging business, and promoting quality. It's more customized and personal Today, especially with the advent of software that can track employee preferences, you can customize and personalize rewards to fit the needs and preferences of each employee. Employees' award selections get customized based on their past point redemption or order history. You can also track how popular different reward items are by tapping into the comment and rating systems to see what items were "liked" by your employees. At the simplest level, you can use this feature to give your employees a greater range of choice in their reward options or to personalize a gift or achievement certificate you select for them yourself. In addition, website and system design improvements are enabling a higher degree of individual program personalization as well. As technology provides increasingly more options for employee recognition, you must remain vigilant that the personal touch still exists. You still need to add your own personal thanks to employees who have had significant achievements; don't rely solely on technology to provide all the recognition. All deserving employees are recognized Executives used to reserve major incentives such as travel for the organization's top sales employees. Now, managers recognize employees at all levels and in all functions for meeting or exceeding their objectives. You can give top performers recognition tools and resources so that they can thank the employees who supported them. Alternatively, you can host a team or company party to celebrate a new client account or achievement of the quarter's financial goals. It recognizes nonwork behaviors and achievements Increasingly, managers are using incentives to acknowledge achievements other than work tasks. People tend to repeat behavior for which they get recognized, so if employers are interested in saving on their escalating healthcare costs, for example, they can recognize healthy habits (exercising, eating healthy, and not smoking, for example) and preventive healthcare (such as getting physicals and vaccinations) and for personal achievements in learning and development: Recognition for health and wellness There's a fine line between encouraging and recognizing employees for being healthy and violating employee privacy concerns. Some organizations are starting to charge employees more for their healthcare insurance if they are at greater health risk due to being overweight or having high-blood pressure, for example. And a company my wife worked for actually set an employment policy that they would not hire smokers. Both examples are treading on thin ice. Recognition for training and development It recognizes new types of workers Traditional (regular, full-time) employees have become a minority in the workforce today. In a recent year, 65 percent of all employees were independent contractors, working on either a part-time or project basis, paid by the hour, and typically without benefits, vacation time, or sick leave. The number of virtual workers, those who work offsite, often online, has increased over 300 percent in just the last decade. As contract employees become the norm in the workforce (estimated to increase to over 50 percent of all workers by 2020), managers need to become more aware and skilled in how to motivate workers they may never personally meet face to face. It emphasizes a performance-based culture Organizations — especially larger and older organizations — are moving away from a mindset of "taking care of people" to one of "helping employees help themselves." In other words, companies provide opportunities for employees to learn, grow, perform, and produce in ways that benefit both the organization and the employees themselves. This change is a function of both business demands (companies increasingly can no longer afford to pay employees' long-term retirement pensions, for example) and changing employee expectations. Instead of working for just a paycheck, employees want and expect more thanks, appreciation, meaning, and value in the work they do on a daily basis. Therefore, effective recognition is increasingly being based on performance rather than on just showing up for work. As a manager, you need to constantly check your attitude to make sure you aren't managing employees from outdated assumptions such as recognizing just for showing up, and recognition not being based on actual achievements. Old school assumptions about human behavior can indicate a manager is out of touch and ineffective in today's organizations. Socially responsible rewards are valued Companies and employees are becoming more socially responsible and environmentally aware in their incentives. As social causes are increasingly important to employees, they are becoming a more significant part of recognition programs everywhere. Managers need to be sensitive and supportive of causes and values that are important to their employees. It has shifted from getting to giving Charity incentives and employees' desire to contribute money or time for community service are at an all-time high. Many employees donate the financial value of rewards they receive to make a difference in the world. You can incorporate this desire for giving into your recognition efforts as well. Cash donations: One of the easiest ways for employees to support a cause they believe in is by donating money. Companies are finding more ways every day to make it easier to partner with their employees in this effort: Volunteer time: Sometimes, companies and employees go beyond cash donations and give of their time. It's a great way to promote goodwill among employees and a company's image. Here are some examples:

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Recognizing and Engaging Employees For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 03-27-2016

Recognition is the primary driver of all employee behaviors. Therefore, you should make sure it’s the primary driver of employee engagement in your workplace. This Cheat Sheet includes articles that show you how to make this connection. Here you can find suggestions, advice, and tactics you can use to recognize engagement, to get the results you want, and to tie your recognition efforts to your company’s core values.

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7 Business Trends That Impact the Manager’s Role

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Managers may say people are their most important asset, but unless they show that belief in their daily interactions, employees won’t feel important. The employee-manager relationship is key to maintaining a happy and productive work environment and a harmonious, engaged team. To sustain a culture of recognition and engagement in the workplace, managers must keep up with current trends and shifts in the manager’s role: The changing role of today’s manager: Managers have fewer ways to influence employees and shape their behavior (being coercive or authoritarian is no longer an option). To be effective, today’s managers must increasingly be more like a coach, colleague, counselor, and cheerleader. Managers must create a supportive work environment that uses indirect means of influence to obtain desired behaviors and outcomes. The increasing speed of business: The faster-paced work environment minimizes contact between employees and managers. Most managers are so busy focusing on their own work that they have little to no time left over to focus on their people. As employees’ time with their managers shrink, managers have to strive to make the time available as positive and meaningful as possible. The need for greater employee initiative: Employees are increasingly being asked to be self-directing, autonomous, and responsible for their own work, all the while acting in the organization’s best interest. This can be a great thing, as long as you acknowledge and recognize the employees appropriately for their contributions. The need for greater trust and autonomy: Coupled with the ongoing change in almost every workplace, employees need perspective, involvement, and grounding more than ever before — and they need it most from their managers. Look for opportunities to empower employees with important tasks and involve them in decisions and information-sharing on a regular basis. And reward them for their contributions. The impact of technology in the workplace: Technology in the workplace has increased employee productivity, but in many instances, it has also caused worker alienation as more time is spent with technology and less time is spent interacting with their managers. Managers need to go out of their way to add a human touch to emails, texts, and other online communication; they also need to supplement the face time whenever possible — even if that’s meeting for an informal cup of coffee! The increasing employee need for meaning and purpose in their jobs: Demographics indicate that the youngest generation of employees will increasingly demand work environments that they find personally meaningful. Fewer workers will be available in the post-baby boom wake, and those who are available will likely have fewer, more-specialized skills than previous generations, compounding the management challenge for motivating this generation of employees. Managers should take time to get to know their employees, find ways to connect employees’ personal values to company values, and look for activities and opportunities that make employees feel purposeful. The need for low cost motivational options: Recognition and praise are effective low-cost means for shaping and obtaining desired performance. Recognition and praise work to better motivate individuals and produce desired results. Most studies indicate that, although financial compensation is important, most employees prefer the intangibles of recognition and praise over money, so managers should remember that they can’t solve all problems by throwing money at them. Employees want to feel appreciated — and appreciation doesn’t have to cost a lot.

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10 Most Frequently Asked Questions about Employee Rewards and Recognition

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Managers have lots of questions when it comes to rewarding and recognizing employees. Sometimes, these questions even stop people from trying to do something inspiring for their employees, but you shouldn’t let these questions stop you because each question has plenty of answers. Here are ten of the questions (and answers) people most frequently ask when trying to implement and continue their recognition efforts: If I recognize one person, doesn’t that mean I’m not recognizing everyone else? (Or in other words, “What do I do about the employees who feel left out?”) When someone in your organization is upset about someone else being recognized other than him- or herself, it’s a red flag that you are not doing enough recognition. When recognition is a scarce commodity, people cling to it so that they can stay in the spotlight as long as possible. Leaving employees out isn’t usually a problem in organizations that have a strong recognition culture, have a variety of formal and informal programs and tools, and have managers who emphasize recognition practices and behaviors daily. To move toward an “abundance” mentality, revamp your recognition activities and programs to avoid a single “winner” or quota. Instead, create opportunities for everyone to be potential winners, such as having an honor roll for all employees who have practiced a key value within a given time period rather than an employee-of-the-month program. Also remember that some of the best forms of recognition have little, if any, cost — verbal and written praise, for example, or symbolic gestures by managers — so do more of these activities in a timely, sincere, and personal way! What can be done when managers know they should recognize their employees but feel they’re too busy? You can’t force managers to recognize their employees, but you can make a persuasive case for why they should want to do so, so try to build on and expand from your recognition successes. Discuss with your managers the increasing problem of attracting and retaining employees, the hidden costs of employee turnover, the loss of productivity, and competitiveness. Show the demographics and what your competition is doing. Relate the issue to the bottom line. Remember, too, that “lack of time” can be an excuse. High-use recognition managers actually value recognition in part because it can be well done with very little time. If I praise employees, won’t it be more difficult to discipline them when necessary? If your praise is specific, this is less of a problem. Generic praise, such as “You’re one of my best employees,” can be misleading because it seems to indicate little, if any, need for improvement. You can leverage those things the individual is good at as evidence that he or she can improve in other areas of the job. For example, “Gary, I know you can make these new changes we’ve discussed, because I’ve seen how well you handle assignments that you put your mind to.” As the person makes improvements, be sure to notice and acknowledge those improvements. Doing so is one of the best ways to ensure that the improved performance continues. My company does a lot to recognize employees, but employees report they don’t receive much recognition. What’s going on? Many organizations confuse lots of employee activities with lots of recognition, but they’re not the same thing. Although activities are a part of recognition — helping morale and social interaction among employees — they fall into a narrow band on the recognition spectrum because they don’t make individual employees feel special. The best recognition singles individuals or groups out for extraordinary performance. How can we get top management to support recognition activities? Different people are persuaded differently. Think of other times when top management has been persuaded (to purchase equipment, approve a policy exception, or hire a person, for example), and what convinced them (data, cost/benefit, urgency of the problem, competitor doing it, personal appeal). Now mimic what worked! Our recognition programs are feeling stale. How can we re-energize them? Find out why people don’t use the existing program. Do a focus group or find other ways to collect information, being sure to include the biggest cynics so that you get their feedback. Perhaps the program just needs to be relaunched to remind people of its existence, and new incentives need to be established. Or you may discover that the program has run its course, and doing something new and exciting would be better. We hold some recognition events that a lot of employees — even ones receiving the awards — do not attend. How can we get employees to come to these events? You need to host recognition events that create a buzz with employees, where fun things happen! Build anticipation: Announce that upper management will be serving the refreshments, list door prizes that will be given for attendance, hire a standup comedian — that type of thing. If your timing and venue are the issue, schedule the event for a time that makes sense for your workers. One hospital held all recognition events during off hours so that employees had to stay an extra hour or two after what was an already long shift or even forced overtime. The preference of employees who feel overworked and stressed is to be able to go home to their families. The last thing on their minds is “How can I spend more of my limited free time at work?” Can too much recognition lead to constantly escalating forms of recognition or unfulfilled employee expectations? Employee motivation is a moving target. You’ve got to be in constant contact with your employees to determine what they most value and then find ways to systematically act on those desired forms of recognition and rewards. So yes, you need to vary your forms of recognition, adding new things, experimenting, and so forth, but you can also stop doing other things that have run their course and are no longer very motivating to employees. Variety is the spice of life, and as you try new things — especially things your employees are interested in — your rewards will be higher morale, productivity, performance, and retention. Also, the one form of recognition that never goes out of style is effective praise. Being timely, sincere, and specific in thanking employees who do good work is a form of recognition that never gets old. What’s the best way to get employees involved in the decision-making process and motivated to perform for the good of all? The best decision-making involves those people who are expected to implement the decisions being made! Ask their opinions, involve them in a discussion, or give them the authority to handle the situation as best they can. Being involved in this way is highly motivating for most people, and reaching goals they’ve set helps keep people going. What’s the best way to make recognition become part of my organization’s culture? One step at a time. Create a motivation baseline and move in the desired direction a little at a time. Start small and build on your success. Ask, “Who wants to help?” and run with those individuals who see the need and are positive about the change. Build momentum until every manager in your operation knows the value of recognition and acts on it as a matter of course. Training is an important part of raising awareness about the need to recognize employees systematically in meaningful ways, helping managers develop the skills they need to recognize others well, and setting the expectation of all managers that they need to make recognition a priority in their jobs. Regarding managers’ performance evaluations, their ability to manage and motivate staff should be an integral part of how they are evaluated in their jobs; otherwise, the activity is not likely to be taken seriously.

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9 Do’s and Don’ts for Workplace Recognition

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Successfully recognizing your employees (and even colleagues or bosses) in the workplace can be challenging. Following are some concepts you should implement, along with a few real-world examples of companies that, let’s just say, struggled to do it right! Do make recognition timely. Don’t wait to recognize; make sure you give praise, rewards, and kudos immediately after the accomplishment occurs, or as soon as possible after. Do make recognition sincere. People can spot insincerity a mile away. Don’t insult your employees by giving fake or half-baked accolades. Say what you mean, and mean what you say. A federal employee working in Kansas reported that an employee of the month was announced at the management staff meeting, even when the winner wasn’t present! “If anybody sees him,” someone would always say, “let him know he got this award.” Do make recognition specific. Since recognition is supposed to encourage workers to keep doing a certain behavior, blanket statements don’t work. Be personal and make the recognition specific to the accomplishment. One busy executive, upon hearing for the umpteenth time that one of his employees did not feel appreciated, stormed out of his office and announced in a loud voice to the entire department: “From now on, I want everyone to assume they are doing a good job unless you hear otherwise from me!” Do make recognition special. When someone does something special, the recognition should also be something unique and different! Do recognize people with what they value. Remember, one size doesn’t fit all. Know what people like, and reward them with that (and don’t reward them with things they don’t want)! Do think recognition through. Especially if you have a diverse workforce, take time to plan and ponder before you launch a recognition effort (especially if it’s kind of big). A pharmaceutical company gave all its employees around the world watches to celebrate a company anniversary. While many employees appreciated the gift, others were less than thrilled. Said one, “I already have several watches, but the company gave me another one. What I really would like is a software upgrade, but that’s not in the budget. I wonder if I can hock this watch to purchase the software I need?” A Spanish affiliate of the firm wondered why Americans were so obsessed with time, and the Chinese affiliates were confused, since in their culture timepieces are only exchanged to grieve a death. Do be proactive in recognizing employees. Don’t wait until it’s too late; make recognition a part of your culture today. Don’t recognize those that don’t deserve it. Giving recognition to everyone, regardless of whether it was deserved, dilutes the message and effect. Hearing an employee complain that someone who had recently been recognized was just “doing her job,” one manager announced that henceforth recognition in the department would only be given if everyone could get the same recognition at the same time so no one would feel left out. Don’t criticize publicly. Praise in public, but give criticism in private. One insurance company singles out low-performing salespeople at its quarterly awards ceremony and has them get up in front of the company’s 800 other sales reps and explain why they didn’t do better in their jobs.

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Engaging Employees: Incentives for All Generations

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Today, the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation Xers, and the Millennials work side-by-side, which means that companies need to create incentive programs that motivate a workforce that, at times, spans some 50 plus years — a task that is, needless to say, challenging. Companies that meet this challenge head-on gain a distinct competitive edge in retaining as well as attracting the talent they need to be successful. Yes, this requires an investment in time, energy, awareness, and action — but the potential payback is enormous. The silent generation (born 1920-1945) Today nearly 16 million Americans age 55 and over are either working or seeking work, representing about 21 percent of the workforce. They are characterized by their decades-long dedication to their employers and are non-risk-takers and conformers. For these workers, formal awards, publicly presented, are greatly valued. Here are some suggestions: Take a photo of an employee from this generation being congratulated by the company president. Frame the photo. Place photographs of top performers in the lobby. Write a story about the employee’s achievement and place it in the company newsletter. Engrave on a plaque the names of employees who have reached 10, 15,or 20 or more years of service. Acknowledge and personalize significant work anniversaries as well as other individual achievements during a company meeting each quarter. Members of the Silent Generation also greatly value programs that recognize the contributions and successes of teams, so find ways to give accolades to groups and departments for major achievements. Finally, as Silent Generation workers consider their retirement, they also value recognition programs that offer stock awards, 401k contributions, and even retirement planning seminars and assistance. Baby boomers (born 1946-1963) Baby Boomers make up the largest population of today’s workers —76 million and growing — and account for 52 percent of the workforce. This group makes up most of middle and upper management in most organizations. Boomers like to win, to be in charge, and to make an impact. Having grown up in post-war prosperity, boomers, once the focus of society, now focus on themselves. They are a gold mine of knowledge and very valuable to companies. To retain these workers, you must work hard to provide incentives that this group values. Among the most valued forms of incentives and rewards for boomers are those that recognize their interest in new experiences and adventures. Boomers also appreciate a self-indulgent treat. Because boomers plan to stay in the workforce beyond the traditional retirement age of 65, employers that recognize boomers’ desire for flexibility and a work/life balance will be rewarded. Generation-X (born 1964-1981) Forty million plus Generation X employees account for 26 percent of the workforce. As the “latchkey kid” generation, they are fiercely independent, self-directed, and resourceful. Having entered the working world in a time of downsizing and cutbacks, they are skeptical of authority and institutions. As a result, Gen Xers’ first loyalty is to themselves and to their own careers. They are the “do-something” generation and seek organizations that offer challenging and meaningful work and an exciting environment. Opportunities that enable young employees to interact with their managers or an organization’s top management are very motivating to the Gen Xer. Gen Xers also want to have fun and find a free-spirited workplace and social gatherings and celebrations very rewarding. For these workers, ongoing training is not only desired but is also a requirement. They have a nonstop desire for information and continually look to add to their skills, especially technology skills. As such, they will look for employers committed to lifelong learning. Millennials (born 1980-2000) Millennials, the youngest generation of workers, are already redefining the workplace. They’re globalized, tech-savvy, and accustomed to being connected to people across the globe and having round-the-clock access to information. They’re comfortable interacting with many cultures, especially online. For them, the borders between work and personal time are blurred (or nonexistent), which means they expect to work during personal time and do personal stuff during work hours. They also care about the world and want to work for companies that are ethical and honest. They’re extremely hard-working and expert multitaskers. They are a bit over-ambitious, think very highly of themselves, and believe they deserve to have a job that challenges, appreciates, and even entertains them. They are highly interactive, thrive on constant feedback, and believe they deserve rewards and promotions when they achieve.

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13 Ways to Get the Results You Want from Your Employees through Recognition

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

One of the key principles of employee recognition is that you get what you reward. This idea seems simple enough, but often, managers and executives inadvertently reward the wrong behaviors. The following table shows you how to recognize to get the desired results; it also warns you about common “misrecognitions.” If You Want . . . Then Recognize . . . Not . . . Profits Profitable sales Any sales revenue Teamwork Collaboration Internal competition Quality Process improvement Inspection Effective training Skills used on the job Training time High performance Results achieved Seniority Problem solving Problems found and solved Problem hiding Knowledge sharing Organizational expertise Individual expertise Leadership Quality of leadership Just management Creativity Creative ideas Conformity Aiming high Meeting stretch goals Over-performance Safety Safe behavior Reported accidents Cost containment Reduced spending Keeping within budget Customer service Customer loyalty Lack of complaints

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8 Ways to Recognize Core Values in Employees

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

One key element of successful workplace recognition is tying your recognition to your company’s core values, mission, and vision. To create the workplace culture you want to obtain, you should systematically recognize the specific values that are core to your organization. You can see examples of how to recognize and reinforce some of the most common organizational values in the table that follows. Sample Core Value Potential Recognition Activity to Deploy Service Recognize employees who provide exceptional service to customers (or internal service to other employees) Quality Recognize attaining or exceeding quality standards Execution Recognize process improvements and improved efficiencies Innovation Recognize creativity and problem solving Teamwork Recognize employees helping one another Learning Recognize development of new skills, exploring new capacities, and learning from mistakes Inclusion Recognize obtaining input from diverse sources when making decisions Safety Recognize safe work practices and the reduction of safety incidents, errors, and injuries

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14 Ways to Recognize Employee Engagement

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

The link between employee recognition and employee engagement occurs on several levels: first, through reinforcing specific desired behaviors; second, through recognizing specific desired results; and third, through recognizing specific desired end states — that is, the environmental culture and core values you’d most like your company to be known for. The following table shows typical engagement behaviors and provides examples of ways you can recognize those behaviors. Desired Type of Engaged Behaviors by Employees Potential Recognition Activity to Deploy Understanding corporate mission Use photos, videos, and stories to recognize examples of work that tie into the mission with Understanding professional expectations Support question asking; create quizzes and contests about job descriptions Providing input on workplace matters Solicit and thank employees regularly for input; make sure upper management is present during key discussions and meetings Making suggestions Actively solicit and recognize ideas, and give employees the autonomy to try them; trumpet successes and “successful failures” Engaging in teamwork and collaboration Recognize team progress; celebrate milestones and final achievements Taking initiative Recognize proactivity and those who ask questions; support extra efforts by allowing flex time and more resources Quality work and/or service Recognize attaining quality standards, error reductions, client satisfaction scores, and positive customer feedback Problem solving Recognize creative group processes, brainstorming, and innovative solutions Bonding with manager and building relationships Encourage face time and learning about each other by making common areas available Connecting with others Hold recognition celebrations and town hall meetings; provide networking opportunities by increased access with others Learning and developing skills Host games and friendly competitions that are based on workplace and professional skills Participating in career development Offer workshops, mentorship programs, and time off and/or funding so employees can attend seminars Pursuing career paths Give employees job variety, opportunities, and professional movement Showing excitement and having fun Hold celebrations and parties

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10 No-Cost Strategies for Recognizing and Engaging Employees

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

The great thing about employee recognition and engagement is that it doesn't have to cost you anything. A national survey of thousands of employees was conducted to find out what motivates them at no cost to their employers. Here are the motivators employees said were most important to them, in order of popularity. #1: Provide employees information they need The top priority for 95 percent of the employees surveyed is having adequate communication and being informed, and they see it as their manager's job to keep them updated. Employees need information to do their job well, but they also want to know about other things: what's going on in other areas of the organization, what the company's marketing strategies are, what new products and services are in the works, and such. There are many ways to make employees feel informed and included: Provide the latest information about the employee's job, department, and so on. Show the big picture. Share management decisions in a timely manner. Explain pending changes and how these changes will affect your employees and the organization as a whole. Give other information they desire. #2: Support employees when they make mistakes Nobody plans to make a mistake, but when mistakes happen, how you handle those mistakes as a manager is important. You can criticize, find fault, and place blame, embarrassing employees in front of their peers and proving that you're the smartest one in the room, or you can take a deep breath and say something like, "That's not the way I would have handled the situation, but what did you learn from your mistake?" Employees already know when they've made a mistake; your publicly amplifying that truth isn't going to fix the error and will only leave them focusing on what a jerk you are. Although they probably won't make that same mistake again, if you are overly critical, you risk undermining your employees' self-esteem and permanently losing their willingness to take calculated risks when they face the next problem situation or customer. A better tactic when your employees make mistakes is to roll up your sleeves and pitch in to help fix the problem. Management is about developing long-term relationships with your employees, so every challenge and interaction offers a chance to engage with them and create a stronger bond. #3: Solicit opinions and ideas, and involve employees in decisions Simply asking your employees for their opinions shows trust and respect, and goes a long way in keeping them engaged and motivated. Employees appreciate being asked for their opinions, even if you aren't always able to use the information they provide. Take this tip one step further and involve your employees in the decisions being made, especially those that affect them and their work. To make sure your employees know that you sincerely want to involve and engage them, you must consistently solicit feedback from your employees. You might ultimately be responsible for the decision, but getting your employees' input helps make your decision a better one. This basic courtesy goes a long way in helping employees feel a part of things — and it's a slap in the face when it does not occur. #4: Be available and get to know your employees In today's fast-paced world in which everyone is expected to do more work faster, personal time with one's manager is in itself a form of recognition. Busy managers who make time for their employees and answer their questions make employees feel like a high priority, which is quite motivating. Especially for younger employees, spending time with their managers is a valued form of validation and inspiration, and it serves the practical purpose of facilitating good communication. #5: Support employees learning new skills and discuss their career options Today's employees most value learning opportunities from which they can gain skills that enhance their worth and marketability in their current jobs, as well as in future positions. Find out what your employees want to learn and how they want to grow and develop, and then give them opportunities as they arise. Showing you care about where an employee's career is headed shows a long-term respect for the individual. Another way to help your employees build skills is to delegate. Most managers never stop to consider that what and how they delegate can be a form of recognition. In fact, if properly used, delegation can be one of the strongest forms of recognition — an affirmation of the employee and his or her talents. #6: Allow autonomy, increase authority, and give assignment choices The ultimate form of recognition for many employees is to be given increased autonomy and authority to get their jobs done, whether they need to spend or allocate resources, make decisions, or manage others. Award increased autonomy and authority to employees as a form of recognition. Autonomy and authority are privileges, not rights, and should be granted to those who have most earned them, based on past performance, not simply based on tenure or seniority. You can also reward top performers by assigning them to exciting new projects (or by letting them choose their own assignments). More responsibility tells employees you trust them and respect them and want them to grow on the job. #7: Thank employees for doing good work and praise them in front of others Although you can thank someone in 10 to 15 seconds, most employees report that they are never thanked for the job they do — and especially not by their managers. Systematically thank your employees when they do good work, whether it's one-on-one in person, in the hallway, in a group meeting, on voicemail, in a written thank-you note, or via e-mail. Better yet, go out of your way to act on and amplify good news — even if it means interrupting employees to thank them for the great job they have done. By taking the time to say you noticed and appreciate their efforts, those efforts — and results — are likely to continue. One excellent — and very inexpensive — way to recognize employees or peers is simply to give verbal feedback when you notice something you like. If your feedback is immediate and sincere, the other person will feel gratified that you've noticed and strive to do the same thing again. #8: Grant flexible working hours and time off Today's employees value their time — and their time off. Especially as work-life boundaries get more blurry every day, giving time off can be extremely powerful: It refreshes employees and shows that you respect them as people, and not just as workers. Having flexible working hours is increasingly important to employees. Granting flex time or time off is a way of showing that you are aware of all the times they work from home or put in extra hours. It's your chance to pay them back. #9: Provide written and electronic praise A simple note can go a long way in making someone feel valued. It only takes you a moment to write but is often a highlight to the recipient — and sometimes it's even a milestone in that person's job or career. You can take this recognition up a notch by having a letter of praise placed in the employee's personnel file. Likewise, a simple e-mail of thanks and praise serves the same purpose. Employees also report valuing positive e-mail messages that are forwarded to them. #10: Publicly share customer letters and recognize employees in meetings In general, most employees value public acknowledgment, so look for opportunities to sing their praises in department or company meetings. When your employees receive a positive letter from a customer or client, encourage them to share that letter with your group. Have them read it out loud at your next staff meeting to remind everyone what you are trying to achieve together. Post it on your department bulletin board. Add a note to the letter and forward it to your manager for his or her information.

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