What is employee recognition, and why is it important?

Take a moment, if you will, to reflect on your past work week. If you’re like most Americans, maybe you feel a bit... slighted?

That’s because according to a Gallup poll, two out of three employees feel that their good work from the week past didn’t receive its due recognition. If employee recognition seems like a trivial matter of office decorum, it’s not. Building employee recognition into your company culture can have huge benefits—and significant costs if its ignored altogether.

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Avoid the costs of poor recognition
Employees who don’t feel their efforts are adequately recognized are twice as likely to quit. And turnover is expensive. Like, tens-of-thousands-in-dollar-cost expensive. Even under the best circumstances, the time lost to hiring and training are a huge burden to bear. When it’s turnover caused by low morale, it’s not just costly, it’s toxic.

Unrecognized accomplishments and extra efforts cause employees to become disgruntled and lose the motivation to go above-and-beyond in the future. It can dissolve the manager-report relationship, an effect that can be contagious and spread across a department, further decreasing employee’s will to stick around.

Luckily, avoiding this can come down to simple words of gratitude, which costs nothing and can make all the difference in an employee deciding to continuing giving it their all.

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Simple recognition in three steps
What does effective employee recognition look like? Here are three tips to make sure you’re doing it right:

1. Don’t wait! Show your appreciation as soon as the job is completed. Waiting gives your employee time to dwell on the lack of response and could be interpreted as insensitivity, or worse, ingratitude. Don’t wait until your company’s next scheduled all hands meeting or annual review. While it’s great to be recognized in public, if they are made to wait too long for a pat on the back, your esteemed employee might have already found a job by the time you meant to say thanks.

2. Make it specific and personal. Tell your employee exactly how much his or her work made a difference. Include that you noticed the extra hours put in or the level of care and organization that were given to the project. Then tell others. Let the department and upper management know what your employee achieved and specify how it went beyond the normal responsibilities and expectations.

3. Deliver recognition yourself. Employee appreciation isn’t someone else’s job. Not the HR department. Not the office manager. It’s best delivered by an employee’s direct manager. Especially in today’s competitive hiring environment, people need to know that their boss appreciates them. It’s even better when it’s reinforced by the CEO or another person on the leadership team. People love when their work is noticed and studies show that a word of high-level recognition can be worth even more than a raise.

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Disco: purpose-built for employee recognition
Of course, there’s always Disco. We built Disco with precisely recognition in mind. It makes recognizing good work as simple as sending a chat message. Start your free trial to get real-time dashboards of the good work happening across the company.

When things work as they should, appreciated employees will go the extra mile and contribute to a positive company culture and work environment. And if they don’t work as they should? Well, when doing it right is this easy, there’s no reason to even chance it—make sure “thanks” is a permanent part of your managerial vocabulary.

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What is employee recognition, and why is it important?
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