How to Show Employees Your Appreciation

by Jan Fletcher on February 6, 2013
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Handing out kudos boosts workplace morale, and companies that regularly thank their employees outperform those that don’t, says Josh Bersin, founder and principal of Bersin by Deloitte. Those are two compelling reasons to ramp up the praise.

Here are seven ways to recognize your exemplary workers:

1. Acknowledge specific acts. Don’t simply hand out a generic employee-of-the-month award. A personal thank-you note will prove more meaningful to your employee [PDF]. Acknowledge specific deeds and explain why the worker is receiving the award. Offering details about what constitutes excellence will empower and encourage other employees to improve their performance, too.

2. Use a merit-point system. YouEarnedIt streamlines the tasks of dispensing rewards for quality work, and also helps employees appreciate and recognize each other. The SaaS platform was designed by Rockfish Interactive, and enables employees to hand out “virtual high fives” for stellar job performance to their coworkers. Each employee also receives incentives in the form of merit points each month, which can be redeemed for gift certificates, tickets, and other rewards. Those receiving awards can then log in to redeem the points for real merchandise. Perks range from gift cards to a Porsche!

3. Give kudos publicly. Use social media to dispense digital pats on the back. “Seek out the highest-performing social-recognition tactics and then fold them into your strategy,” advises Jennifer Lumba, chief marketing officer for the multinational firm Rideau Inc., in the article “How to Boost Profits and Productivity Using Social Recognition.”

4. Customize the rewards. This sage advice comes from Jonathan Robinson, founder and CEO of FreeTextbooks, an online college bookstore. “We’re pretty small, so I have to stay in tune with the preferences and pulse of our employees,” Robinson says. Rather than offer run-of-the-mill gifts, he prefers those with a personal touch, he says. He even asks new hires to fill out a questionnaire on what types of rewards they find most appealing.

5. Use software to commend workers. Kudos is a corporate social network that enables employers to give a digital slap on the back to employees. It’s essentially a mentoring platform through which small-business owners may offer employees praise for a job well done (or constructive criticism).

6. Provide your own perks. Consider handing out inexpensive perks to increase morale. Handwritten notes, flexible hours, and free passes to skip work (with pay) are often much appreciated by employees.

7. Share a smile. A depressing atmosphere sucks the life out of a small business, one frown at a time, says Michael Kerr, a motivational writer and speaker. He encourages the use of humor in the workplace. Even the simple act of smiling triggers a positive response in others. Smiles, like yawns, are contagious.

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