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The #1 reason most people leave their jobs is a lack of recognition.

Recognition that is genuine and timely helps to retain talented workers, increases engagement and improves performance.

We all need to feel appreciated.

When your workm8tes feel appreciated and recognised for their individual contribution, they feel valued, they’re more engaged, motivated, have higher job satisfaction, are likely to go the extra mile for you and the business, and are less likely to resign.

The trick is to do it well.

While it's crucial to recognise major accomplishments, don’t overlook the power of the everyday thank-you to motivate your workers.

Group of workers wearing high viz celebrating

Our research shows workers’ value genuine verbal recognition more than financial reward.

Annual bonuses become expected, yet are often not seen as genuine appreciation, but rather as an entitlement.

However, don’t put away the gift cards just yet. Financial recognition can be a good way to motivate your team, but only in the short-term and for those who job involves working on mechanical, operational and production lines.

Over time, the use of financial rewards can demotivate workers and may harm productivity.

Here are some tips on how to give recognition with impact:

1. Be genuine

If you don’t mean it, don’t do it.

Fake or forced recognition harms everyone.

2. Be specific, be relevant

Recognition is more meaningful when it is tied to a specific accomplishment, such as an achievement, desired behaviours, going above and beyond, and milestones such as years of service.

Get the details right. Getting the details wrong sends the message that you couldn’t be bothered to get it right and that they don’t matter.

3. Be timely

Recognition that arrives months after the fact isn’t nearly as meaningful as recognition received promptly. The longer it takes for you to give recognition, the less likely it will be seen as authentic.

Get into the habit of tying recognition to a landmark – for example the end of a project, the first Monday of the month, or at all staff or one-on-one meetings.

4. Make it public – or not

This is a tricky one.

Public recognition can feel more impactful to the recipient, and it can also boost motivation spurring on others. However, it can also de-motivate - especially if it is seen as favouritism or an impossible standard to reach.

Some people prefer to be recognised individually. Be mindful of those workers who don’t like public recognition and recognise them in private.

5. What about rewards?

Rewards, just like recognition, come in many shapes and sizes.

It isn’t all about the money. Money can be seen as a great motivator – but often this is not true.

Workers value opportunities to grow and learn. Think about offering professional development opportunities, or a choice of working on a particular project.

Symbolic rewards are shown to be more effective motivators than monetary incentives.

Workers feel more valued when they can see you have taken the time and effort in the way you recognise them. Verbal recognition or a handwritten note is more effective than an email. If you do choose to recognise a team member with a gift, one that has been selected by you, with the recipient in mind, can be very impactful.

Giving a reward doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should be meaningful, timely and personal. Shout them a coffee, handwrite a note, or just say thank you.

Take care. Make sure recognition and rewards do not incentivise unwanted behaviours. An example of this would be celebrating individual achievements when you really want to encourage more team work.

6. Encourage others to give a ‘shout-out’

Recognition doesn’t have to come from managers alone; some workers may find recognition more motivating when it comes from their peers rather than from leadership.

Use team toolbox meetings, staff noticeboards or the intranet as a place for workers to give a ‘shout-out’ recognising a peer.



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