A cash bonus at the end of an intense few weeks is always a welcome cherry on the sundae. We all like to have a bit of extra green in our bank accounts, and the sense of appreciation and accomplishment that comes along with it is nice too. But money isn’t the only way to recognize a job well done—in fact, it’s probably not the best one, either.
People love to be recognized for a job well done even when it’s not tied to some sort of reward—especially if they’re already receiving a fair compensation package. So the question is, what are the best ways to offer employees the recognition they deserve?
1. Put the ball in their court at the start of the game.
It’s great to solicit ideas from employees, but it’s not the best reason to give someone a pat on the back for a job well done. When you ask for creative suggestions from your team, it’s difficult for employees to gauge if coming up with something cool is part of their job or something that goes above and beyond.
It’s a better idea to put the ball in your employees’ court from the outset, and create an environment where creativity is recognized at the start of every project, and not merely when a manager specifically asks for it. Instead of requesting ideas, celebrate them when they’re developed organically. In the best case scenario, the trickle of creative ideas will turn into a consistent flow, without any managerial intervention.
2. Tuck your pride away.
It’s hard to ask for help, especially when you’re in a position of authority. This becomes especially true in situations where you’re most desperate. But desperation is the perfect time to recognize how much you value your employees’ skills and contributions. In the moments where you go out of your way to show humility, tuck your pride away, and ask for help, it comes clear to your team how valuable their everyday contributions truly are.
Show your employees that you have faith in their leadership abilities. You could achieve this by simply asking an employee you want to recognize to chair a committee, organize more meetings, decrease their day-to-day supervision, or increase their team’s budget.
While not everyone likes to be put in charge, everyone does enjoy feeling that their judgment is valued and respected. The best way to recognize leadership potential is to create leadership opportunities. As a bonus, employees who sense emerging opportunities in your business are less likely to look for work elsewhere. Goodbye turnover!
4. Work as a team.
Recognition doesn’t only come from direct supervisors and CEOs. It should also come from co-workers, other departments, and even customers. Teamwork puts the ability to recognize employees in everyone’s hands. Whether it’s a group of people tasked with making a new hire, keeping a customer happy, pursuing a new project, or planning for the future, teamwork—especially when it’s across functional departments—helps to recognize and motivate employees like nothing else can.
Financial bonuses are nice, but personal recognition is a lot more meaningful. It’s like the difference between a gift card and a personalized present. There really is no comparison. If leveraged effectively, employee recognition will boost productivity and morale, slash turnover, and improve the bottom line. A happy staff, after all, is also a productive staff.