“Treat employees like they make a difference and they will.”
Everyone craves recognition. It doesn’t matter where you sit on the office chain of command, recognition of your contribution is important to how you feel about yourself and your job. Without such acknowledgment, office productivity can suffer.
Employee recognition can be difficult to get right. The concept of fairness in the workplace often includes the frequency and way you thank your employees for the work they do.
The Magic of “Thanks”
If you’re familiar with psychologist Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, you know that acceptance, belonging, recognition, and respect are all upper-tier needs. These psychological needs are only trumped by basic needs such as food, water, safety and rest. In other words, recognition is pretty important!
But how do businesses motivate employees based on this psychological theory?
Some companies get it wrong. They mistakenly believe that salary and benefits are everything an employee requires for job satisfaction. After all, these are the foundation for meeting basic human needs.
Other companies get it mostly right. They understand that recognition is important to their staff members but only encourage recognition from leaders to staff. This often looks like a traditional recognition system, in which top performers garner the lion’s share of praise and rewards.
The companies that get employee recognition right are the ones that consistently recognize employee contributions. No contribution is too small for acknowledgment. Such recognition can flow both ways, from leaders to staff and staff to leaders. It’s also often tailored to individual preference; personalized acknowledgment feels genuine.
“Getting it right” can boost employee productivity – and company success – far beyond expectations.
Fairness in the Workplace: Equality in Recognition
People work for rewards. If you’re a manager, you need to know what makes your employees tick. You must treat employees equitably, and don’t assume all rewards are created equal for all employees. The best managers know how each employee likes to be rewarded.
The concept of fairness goes hand-in-hand with stress in the workplace. Stress is a result of unfair treatment, and this stress can affect productivity. Instead of spending their energy on performing their job duties, people who feel as if they are treated unfairly will seek to balance the scales. Inequity in workplace recognition can result in negative competition, poor employee communication, and lack of effort in job duties.
How do you know whether employees feel they are being treated unfairly? Just ask them! However, when you do, be prepared to act in response to employee perceptions. If left unaddressed, these perceptions can lead to actions and behaviors that aren’t productive or profitable. Employees may reduce the amount of work they do. They may slow their work pace and decrease their productivity. They may express their frustration and feelings of inequity with other employees. Or they may leave the company altogether.
Equal Opportunity Recognition
Building a work environment in which all employees feel valued can be the difference between a successful business and one that doesn’t live up to its potential. Employee recognition programs can go a long way toward creating respect and trust among staff. Equality in recognition means that you should:
Make everyone eligible for recognition
“Everyone” means every person on staff. This can include interns as well as management. After all, your staff is a team and as a team, each member has value. Never exclude any employee or group of employees.
Establish objective standards
Objectivity – quantifiable effort – means that the playing field is level for everyone. This can help circumvent the playing of favorites or “gaming the system” by a few individuals.
Allow employees to recognize one another
When recognition only flows from the top down, some staff members may not get the praise they’re due. Allowing everyone to contribute to recognition means acknowledgment for some of your unsung heroes.
Tailor recognition programs for different departments, if needed
Depending on your company structure, it may make sense to have different programs for different departments. That way, individuals can more easily earn recognition in their own department, boosting pride and self-esteem.
Positive company culture is important in today’s workplace, particularly since prospective employees will seek out an environment that values their contribution. Making your recognition program equal opportunity can help your business to build positive company culture. Giving everyone in your organization the same opportunity for recognition and appreciation creates respect and loyalty. These two qualities can attract top-tier talent, retain valued employees, and set your company on a path toward success!