I’m sure 2019 is going to be a busy year. Every year seems to get busier than the last. Our calendars are full of meetings. We’re thinking about all of the goals we need to accomplish. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. The New Year can be exciting. But in all of the excitement, we can’t forget about recognition and rewards for employees and their hard work and efforts.
More importantly, we need to recognize and reward employees in a way that means something to them. Giving employees an “ugly sweater” is awesome if an employee wants an ugly sweater. Or lives someplace where they can use a sweater in general.
Find out what motivates employees. There are plenty of opportunities to ask employees what matters to them. You can ask during the interview. Or maybe create an activity during orientation where employees make a personal user guide that includes how they prefer to be recognized. Another option is to straight up ask them during a one-on-one meeting. Whatever method you choose, don’t make assumptions that every employee values the same things.
Step out of your comfort zone. When it comes to recognition and rewards, managers should not expect employees to conform to the manager’s style. Managers need to deliver recognition in a way that is meaningful to the employee. Some employees appreciate public recognition. Others are mortified by it. In addition, if you’re a manager that prefers staying out of the spotlight, you might need to step into it to properly recognize an employee.
Look for signs that the recognition or reward was valued. I will admit that sometimes employees say, “Oh boss, I just love this!” and the truth is they hate it. But the employee doesn’t want to hurt feelings. If you want to know if an employee values a gift – see if they use it. Or pay attention when they mention recognition. It could be a small indicator of something that an employee appreciates.
We spend a lot of time talking about employee engagement and the employee experience. Recognition and rewards are big parts of it. And we’re not talking about big, expensive items. It could be as simple as “thank you”. But that thank you needs to be sincere and delivered in a meaningful way. It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that employees aren’t going to engage with an organization where they’re not appreciated. Because they can go find a company that will.14