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August: HR Update

News Story

HR’s Luciana Ziegler offers her own insight as an HR professional and a mom on why recognizing achievement is an important part for boosting morale and encouraging more good work.

By Luciana Ziegler

As a mom, I find myself continuously using positive affirmation with my kids: they do something, I react with “Great job, you’re doing awesome!” On and on I go with the praise, reacting to every behavior. I started to pay attention to other moms’ ways of reacting and found this as a consistent behavioral pattern—in the park, at the grocery store, at the library: “You’re doing well! You’re so smart! Great job!”

You’re a star. You’re so special. Great job! Endless offerings of automatic praise for doing the right thing—the things they are supposed to do. If we are to expect praise for routine tasks, for what we have to do and we anticipate to be rewarded for anything, then what does it take to recognize extraordinary achievement? If this is a new cultural norm, an HR pro or a manager charged with retention has a hard job to do.

Some of what I do is in the field of recognition. While doing my job over the years, I’ve learned that appreciation is a fundamental human need. People crave it and will likely leave to go to a place known for giving it. People respond to appreciation for their good work because it confirms their work is valued and therefore it is expected that they’ll be motivated to maintain and improve the good work. Employee recognition takes time—time from the manager to do it right and time from the employer to put a program together, to grow it and nurture it to achieve its initial goals. When done right, employee recognition can reinforce the values and behaviors that drive business productivity and performance to high achievements.

Employee recognition is not just a nice thing that is done for people. Recognition is a communication tool that reinforces and rewards the most important outcomes our employees create for the business. And with this, we reinforce those behaviors and actions we want people to repeat.

So, here are some simple tips on recognition:

  • Seize the moment. Catch people doing great work and acknowledge their efforts. Coming to work on time does not count! That is something we are supposed to do!
  • Be consistent. Serve it up once a week to keep your employee morale going strong.
  • Put it in a context. The extraordinary efforts need to be tied in to a business goal.
  • Choose it wisely. Remember, money can’t buy everything. So don’t wait until you can give a raise or promotion. Real thanks prescribed as mentioned above could be worth even more!

Here’s a challenge for you: Come up with a fun tradition that you can start for your employees. Some managers ring a bell to recognize employee’s accomplishments, some hand-written thanks. Whatever it is, keep it going and keep it fun.

A Working Example of Successful Recognition: YES

Pace University established criteria for rewarding employees. Criteria included such activities as contributing to Pace’s success by providing excellent customer service to any internal or external customer. Each employee, who meets the stated criteria, receives a thank you note, written by their customer. The note spells out exactly why the employee is receiving the recognition and is sent to the employee with a duplicate to his/her supervisor and a certificate of achievement.

With this nomination, comes the opportunity for the employee to receive a gift in the form of movie tickets through a monthly random drawing. The thank you note goes into a yearly pool for even more substantial reward and recognition opportunities.

So, let’s continue to make Pace a leader in successful recognition. Nominate to win! Be a part of the 2014 recognition season!

Please weigh in and tell me what recognition means to you, and how you’ve successfully recognized your employees and co-workers. Post your comment on HR Facebook.