Monday, May 12, 2014

Think Beyond the Thursday Potluck for Employee Recognition

As a proud mother of two, I think Mother’s Day rocks? Why wouldn’t I? Gifts, dinners and a few get-out-of-doing-chores-free passes. Still, it got me thinking. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a day (or a few days) focused solely on employee appreciation and recognition at work?

Bear with me on this, business owners and management team members. I want to help you see the value of employee appreciation efforts that are well thought out and executed, going way above and beyond the Thursday Lunch potlucks.

Throughout my HR career I have stood by the principle that your greatest assets within your company are your employees. From maintaining your facilities to maintaining your general ledgers, your employees are the nuts and bolts that hold your business together. Without employees you have no driving force to keep your business or organization running. The majority of those individuals gainfully employed spend more time at the workplace than they do with their families at home.

I don’t think all employees should be recognized just for showing up to work every day on time. I am against the whole “everyone gets a trophy for participating” mindset that is common in many parts of our culture today. From children’s athletic leagues to corporate Christmas parties, routine recognition is expected just for meeting minimum requirements and putting in time for a team or project. But if our employees expect routine, social praise, and workplace “trophies or tokens,” how can we recognize truly outstanding efforts or achievement?

Employee recognition efforts are directly tied to employee retention. Employee retention is directly tied to turnover. Turnover is directly tied to company performance and efficiency. So you see, employee recognition has a pretty critical role in every business. Trust me when I tell you if your employees do not feel valued they will not stay.

Too often I have seen companies misunderstand the concept of employee recognition to mean additional compensation. We all like a few extra dollars in our wallets and pocketbooks, but let’s be realistic. When management places a dollar value on employee efforts, do the employees in turn view the additional compensation the same? In all reality the answer is probably no. The employee will always value their efforts, time, sacrifices, etc., at a higher level than the dollar amount you have decided to throw into their paycheck or annual bonus.

Unless you are ready to start paying out a few thousand dollars or more, let’s try to expand our view of what employees may really want. So get rid of the “everyone gets a trophy” mindset and check out next week’s feature, as we explore how to make over your employee recognition efforts and start making an impact on the nuts and bolts of your business.

Monica Bitrick is a human resources consultant who lives and works in Idaho Falls.