On any given evening, in any city, at any restaurant, a common scenario plays out: a group of waitstaff marches out of the kitchen with a complimentary dessert in hand and proceeds to clap and sing a celebratory birthday song to one of their customers.
Most people have one of two reactions to this kind of birthday celebration. Some enjoy the loud clapping and singing by the wait staff. Others do not. Much of this reaction is rooted in how comfortable they are with attention focused on them.
How people react to such attention when they are among friends and family extends to the workplace, as well. Some individuals enjoy public recognition and attention, while others prefer a more low-key acknowledgment. Consider how individual employees perceive recognition in the workplace and plan your efforts accordingly.
The methods you use to praise employees affect their perceptions of their value to the workplace. Because each employee is unique, praise and recognition are not a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, recognition in the workplace needs to be strategic and tailored to individual temperaments.
Recognition can be public or private. When planning your efforts, consider these questions:
- Who am I going to recognize?
- What actions or behaviors am I recognizing?
- When do I want to recognize this employee?
- How does this employee prefer to be recognized?
- Where do I want to recognize? At an event? In the office? Employee recognition program?
The answers to these questions will guide you into a suitable form of recognition for individual employees. Both public and private praise can be appropriate in the right context.
Giving Praise Publicly
For many workplaces, public recognition is the norm. Public praise can create a positive and engaging workplace culture and motivate the entire team. It encourages individuals to support each other. It is also a good way to demonstrate your expectations to employees.
Typically, public recognition begins as a top-down exercise in which managers acknowledge effort and accomplishment. In turn, it sets a standard in the workplace for celebrating individual contributions to a team and encourages peer-to-peer recognition. This can have a powerful effect on employee motivation.
Public recognition in the workplace doesn’t have to be over-the-top in order to be effective. Simple ways to publicly praise employees include:
- Social recognition on a digital recognition wall like Workplace Rewards.
- Honoring individuals or teams at an annual event or awards banquet
- Offering a shout-out in the company newsletter
- Expressing appreciation during a company meeting
- Highlighting accomplishments using the company’s social media platforms
Public praise doesn’t always need to be planned. Spontaneous public praise, when genuine and specific, can also help to build positive energy and motivation in the workplace. It helps to understand, however, that not all employees want or need such public recognition.
Giving Praise Privately
Some employees are uncomfortable with public attention and prefer private praise. These individuals are often internally motivated and don’t require a turn in the spotlight to be productive. As exciting and encouraging as public praise can be for the whole team, it can have the opposite effect on those with quiet temperaments.
That’s not to say, however, that you should refrain from recognizing those who avoid the spotlight. Internally motivated individuals still need your appreciation and encouragement – they just don’t need everyone to know about it. In this scenario, one-on-one communication is incredibly effective.
Private praise, delivered thoughtfully, can motivate and empower these reserved individuals to continue doing their best work. You can use any number of discreet methods, including:
- A handwritten letter or thank you note
- Face-to-face acknowledgment of specific actions
- A positive email of thank you and recognition
- Sincere appreciation delivered during a private meeting
- A small token of appreciation, such as a gift card
Such private expressions of appreciation help to boost employee self-esteem and motivation. Even though they shun the spotlight, your internally-focused employees still want your recognition and appreciation. It’s worth the effort to determine who on your staff craves public recognition and who does not.
Determining Employee Recognition Preferences
Recognition in the workplace should be personal. To keep it meaningful, employees should be a part of the recognition process. A simple poll can provide useful information, provided you ask the right questions:
- What do you prefer to be called?
- What kind of recognition is meaningful to you?
- Are you comfortable with public praise?
- From whom do you prefer to receive recognition?
- What form of recognition motivates you – gift certificates, personal notes, team celebrations, etc.?
- Are you internally or externally motivated?
Just by asking a few questions and knowing how your employees like to receive recognition will ultimately lead to:
- Increased engagement
- Reduced employee turnover
- Increased productivity
- Improved customer relations
- Fewer workplace accidents and better safety records
As you move through the process of employee recognition – both public and private – it’s important to evaluate the response. Did you get the response you were anticipating? Do you get the sense that the employee feels appreciated? Make adjustments to your recognition program as you receive this feedback. Meaningful recognition will improve not only organizational culture but also relationships within the workplace.
Regardless of how your employees prefer to be recognized, having an employee recognition program in place can help you to acknowledge the efforts of your staff. Workplace Rewards can help – contact us for more information!