And The Winner Is …

awardAccording to a Forbes research project, companies that scored in the top 20% for building a “recognition-rich culture” actually had 31% lower voluntary turnover rates.  Lower turnover rates reduce recruiting and training costs, while increasing productivity and morale.  Reduced costs mean higher profits.  Higher profits equals happy shareholders.  So what’s the down side?  There isn’t one!

Recognition comes in all forms – from a simple, but genuine “thank you” to an all-expenses-paid trip to a sunny destination.  Rewards for practicing specific behaviors and achieving well-defined goals should be chosen carefully and with the recipient in mind.  But the exact gift isn’t as important as how the strategy is executed.  The budget will drive the gift options, but regardless of the size of that budget, a well-planned, clearly communicated recognition approach will always trump the mad dash at the end of the year to come up with one gift for every employee just because they still happen to be working there at holiday time.

The overall “experience” of receiving the award should also be calculated so that the recipient isn’t just walking away with something in his/her hand, they are also walking away with a sense of pride, accomplishment and renewed energy.  For instance:

  • Think out-of-the-box with an unexpected “free day” given to the associate who demonstrated the most talent for reducing costs with process improvements, more aggressive supplier negotiations or less overtime.  There are few employees who wouldn’t appreciate the value of an extra vacation day.
  • Don’t underestimate the value of great chair!  Those employees that spend a lot of time sitting at the desk would be ecstatic to see the manager rolling brand new ergonomic office chairs into their work spaces.  The IT department that just successfully completed a grueling software conversion after working 14 hour days over a 12 month period will understand how much you appreciate their efforts.
  • Communicate to the other employees a clear description of the behavior being rewarded.  Describing the awesome feedback the customer service associate of the month has received from customers will make everyone on the team work a little harder to do the same.
  • Go the extra mile by packaging the award, point redemption card or gift card for successfully avoiding work-related accidents for another 6 months, in an attractive box with gift wrap.  We all know from a lifetime of birthday and holiday gifts that a wrapped gift is twice as nice.

The point is, it’s good business to recognize valuable employees.  But it requires a management team that’s willing to devote time and energy to the development of a solid plan, and then the dedication to follow through.  It’s only February – it’s not too late to get started!

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