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Thank You | Power of Recognition

The Power of Recognition

Imagine a world where you go to work every day with a big smile, knowing that your work is important to the business and that your boss and your peers not only rely on you, but also trust you and show they appreciate your contributions.  Imagine a work environment that is productive and where you are challenged to sharpen and learn new skills continuously.  Instead, you may find yourself working for an organization that lacks a culture of recognition, leaving you in the dark on whether your hard work and contributions are truly valued.

Sadly, the reality for many employees today is a bit dire when it comes to recognition.  Below, you’ll find several staggering statistics* based on extensive research, which reflect just how important the need for recognition is in today’s work environment:

  • Studies show that 80% of employees feel they are motivated to work harder when they are recognized for their work by their superiors.  
  • In contrast, less than 40% felt that a demanding boss or fear of losing their job motivates them to work harder.  
  • In other recent studies, 44% of employees surveyed indicated they were planning to leave their jobs citing lack of recognition as the main reason
  • 69% in that same study said that they would consider staying if they received recognition and reward for their work.

Recognition and acknowledgement may not come easy or naturally for many. In fact, if you are a supervisor that is laser-focused on a task or goal, and things do not go according to plan, you might be inclined to highlight and point out the negatives by default.  That behavior can turn recognition into a task that requires additional hard work and intentional effort. 

That’s where understanding the difference between a “manager” and a “leader” comes into play. According to Harvard Business School, managers pursue goals through coordinated actions and tactical processes or tasks that unfold over stages to reach certain outcomes. On the other hand, leaders are less focused on how to organize people to get the work done and more on finding ways to align and influence them.  Simply put, managers process people almost transactionally whereas leaders inspire and influence their behavior. This contrast makes managers more likely to focus primarily on mistakes and shortcomings rather than on encouragement and recognition.  Of course, one could argue that it’s possible to be both, a leader, and a manager; however, that’s easier said than done and takes years of practice and discipline. Therefore, I venture to say that most of us are inclined to being one or the other.

Does your company have a culture of recognition?  If not, what sorts of things can you do to change that and begin to lead your employees and show them how valuable they are?  I want to share some recommendations, based on common best practices.  As with most initiatives, make sure that whichever recommendation(s) you implement, aligns well within your company values and culture. It’s also important to make sure an employee is comfortable with any recognition you plan on sharing publicly.

  1. Conduct Employee Surveys – If you do not have a recognition program in place, a good starting point is to survey your workforce and use the information you receive to design a recognition program.  Be sure to ask open-ended questions (Who, What, When, Where, How) so they can provide all the information you need to address concerns.  If you have a program in place already, consider recurring surveys (quarterly, annual, etc.), that you can use to measure their level of engagement.
  2. Develop a culture of Positive Reinforcement – This starts with your weekly one-on-one meetings, where you can see how employees are performing and identify successes and growth opportunities. You can then highlight tasks employees have done well and share those in department and all-hands meetings, giving them kudos.  You may also consider a more defined recognition program where employees can nominate one another for exceptional contributions. Remember, if you find yourself having to provide corrective feedback, it should always be done privately and accompanied by positive reinforcement.  Be sure to follow up and follow through on your commitments.  Doing this shows you have their best interest at heart and care enough to bring things to their attention.  Employees will appreciate this in the long-term and will respect you for it and show you their gratitude by trusting you and sticking around. 
  3. Make Some Noise – This is an opportunity to showcase an employee’s exceptional contributions publicly.  You should consider having the C-level or member of your executive team give them a call or writing them an email simply to thank them for their accomplishments, always reiterating how valuable they are to the organization.  You can also write a post on your company’s intranet site, newsletter company social media page highlighting their special accomplishments.
  4. Reward Employees Accordingly – While recognition is not always about money, it is another important way to let employees know they are valued.  In addition, you should consider them for promotions if/when new roles open that align with the employee’s ambitions and career path. Other things include sending flowers/chocolates/gifts with a hand-written thank you card, or a gift card to their favorite store or restaurant.  During your merit cycle, make sure you explicitly point out their accomplishments by listing the reasons why they are receiving a bonus or raise.  Other creative ways to reward them include having employees leave a few hours early on a given Friday, or the day before a long weekend, once their work has been completed.
  5. Celebrate Milestones – Never forget work anniversaries, or anytime they meet or exceed assigned quotas/goals.  In fact, you should always set reminders of all employee anniversaries on your calendar with a notable reminder days ahead so you can prepare accordingly. Other celebrations may include birthdays, weddings, or other special occasion to the employee.  You can take them out to lunch or give them a nice card commemorating the occasion.  Each of these occasions, provide an opportunity to ask them how they are feeling about their jobs, etc.

In conclusion, employees that feel valued and recognized are less likely to jump ship, even if the grass seems greener on the other side.  Remember that losing good people is never a good thing.  Often, it can feel like a bad break-up that could have been prevented, stirring regret, resentment and causing all sorts of grief for supervisors and the rest of the team.  Not to mention the financial and productivity losses that will impact your operations, customers, and morale.  In fact, a resignation from a highly influential employee may prompt an avalanche of unexpected resignations, which only exacerbates the problem.  Therefore, as business leaders, we should never underestimate the critical role that recognition plays in a business.  In today’s competitive landscape, recognition can be one of the tools that can help you retain your most valuable employees during the Great Resignation and even take your employee relations and productivity to the next level. 

*Source:  Zippia Research

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Key Elements to Retaining Your Workforce

We all know that finding top talent is difficult, but retaining top performers is proving to be equally as difficult — especially when so many other employers are launching recruiting campaigns designed to aggressively lure the cream of the crop with outrageous salaries, sign-on bonuses, stock options, and so on. As we continue to navigate through unprecedented times and ride the wave of The Great Resignation, many employers sadly continue to struggle finding and implementing initiatives that can effectively retain their valuable talent.

We want to highlight several key elements that can help your business survive (and even thrive) during these turbulent times: Risk Assessment, Compensation, and Engagement and Recognition. So, let’s dive into these!

Risk Assessment

Understanding your workforce and assessing your employees’ flight risk is the very first step in your retention journey. Communication is key to completing an accurate assessment, so you know what your employees want and how to retain them. In an ideal world, every employee should have a flight-risk score. For this, we suggest proactively conducting ongoing surveys that give employees opportunities to voice their concerns and opinions freely, having managers conduct skip-level meetings to give employees exposure and access to senior level managers, and, most importantly, conducting Stay-Interviews to ask probing questions such as:

  • Why did you join the organization?
  • How did you anticipate joining our organization would support your career aspirations?
  • Are you on track to having your career objectives and dreams realized? If not, what is preventing this from occurring?
  • Which aspects of your work do you enjoy the most and find the most fulfilling?
  • Which do you enjoy the least?
  • Are you receiving sufficient challenges in your current role to keep you engaged and fulfilled?
  • Are you receiving sufficient opportunities for your career growth and development?
  • If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be?
  • Who inspires you the most within the company and why?
  • What would influence you to look elsewhere for career satisfaction?

You would be surprised at what you discover during this process. First and foremost, in an effective 30-minute Stay-Interview between a manager and employee, the managers ask those standardized questions casually and conversationally, not as a performance evaluation, but rather as a “let me get to know you and your goals” discussion. It is an opportunity to build trust with an employee and a chance to assess the employee’s degrees of satisfaction and engagement. Stay-Interviews are preferable to employee-satisfaction surveys because they provide a two-way conversation and a chance to ask questions, get a more in-depth understanding of that employee’s current motivation, and offers managers the opportunity to quickly reinforce the positives and deal with the employee’s concerns. However, be advised that sometimes topics arise that are unexpected and even uncomfortable. Therefore, it is important for employers to be prepared to address pretty much anything from hostile work environments to harassment and poor managers.


While it is not necessarily always about the money, we cannot ignore the fact that compensation plays a very important part in someone’s decision process when it comes to employment. As such, a good practice is to be proactive and conduct ongoing reviews of your employee’s compensation and how it compares to the current market conditions. If you are unable to bridge a gap in base salary, we suggest getting creative with a bonus plan or additional benefits that employees may value even more than money to let the employee know you are taking care of them. After all, if you don’t, you run the risk of another employer enticing the employee away with a greater compensation plan.


Another key element is keeping employees engaged. This requires a lot of work and clarity when it comes to a company’s vision. You want to make sure that your employees have a clear understanding of the company’s mission and how their work contributes to it. As previously mentioned, skip-level meetings can play an important role in doing so. Making employees aware that they play an integral part of the overall picture is absolutely necessary to develop a culture of engagement. This also requires soliciting their feedback and asking them for their input on your company’s projects, products, and services. After all, an engaged workforce is more passionate about what they do; thus less likely to leave.


Last but not least, we can never underestimate the power of recognizing the value of an employee’s contribution. Recognizing, celebrating, and rewarding the positive impact an employee has made at work contributes to their sense of achievement and value to the company, and ultimately retention. Sadly, many companies struggle to do just that, and ultimately end up losing good people who feel undervalued. For this, we suggest developing and implementing a recognition program of some sort that allows managers and employees to recognize one another and be publicly recognized for their achievements. It can be a segment in your quarterly all-hands meeting, or an intranet site or newsletter where you can give kudos to your employees, making a positive impact.

In conclusion, while there is no silver bullet when it comes to employee retention, we believe implementing these practical solutions can make a difference and keep your employees happy and engaged. Remember that recruiters are trained to exploit every possible angle and pain point in order to get employees to consider jumping ship. Therefore, having a solid retention plan in place that includes aforementioned elements is critical to retaining the talent you have and minimizing employee turnover.

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