Leveraging Employee Recognition for Recruitment and Retention

Article contributed by John Henderson, EANE

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it!” William Arthur Ward

Recognition should be a big part of every organization’s total rewards strategy. Implementing a well-designed recognition program will increase employee engagement and result in higher retention rates and improve recruitment.

In a recently published Gallup report “Unleashing the Human Element at Work: Transforming Workplaces Through Recognition” they found the results for having a great recognition program:

  • 73% of employees a less likely to feel burned out
  • 56% are less  likely to look for another job
  • Employees are 4 times more likely to recommend their organization to friends

Unfortunately, the study also found that:

  • 81% of leaders say recognition is NOT a major strategic priority for their organization
  • Approximately 66% of leaders noted that their organization does NOT have a budget allocated to recognition

The report identifies 5 pillars of recognition: fulfilling; authentic; equitable; embedded in culture; and, personalized. The last pillar (personalized) can often be overlooked. It is important that the type of recognition and how and where it is delivered be taken into consideration. Not everyone wants the spotlight shining on them when recognized by their supervisor for a job well done. In fact, the survey found that only 7% prefer it to be public and 29% prefer it to be done in private and the remainder said a mix of public and private is fine.

Outlined at the end of the report are the 5 next steps leaders should consider be build a stronger recognition strategy:

  1. Make recognition accessible: train your managers on how and when to recognize efforts of their reports. Provide them with time and money to make recognition impactful.
  2. Embed recognition into your culture: make it a daily habit and use all-staff events if possible
  3. Train managers: educate them on the 5 pillars of recognition
  4. Model the behavior: the top of the organization must lead by example and ensure that recognition trickles all the way down to front-line employees
  5. Prioritize recognition: make it part of your strategic plan. Put money, time and thought into developing and implementing a plan.

Recognition can be easy to do but like so many of the “easy” things we lose sight of its impact until it’s too late. Giving employees recognition when due makes them feel valued and increases their feeling of “belonging.” This will have a positive and direct impact on your retention and recruitment efforts.