Looking for an effective way to communicate employee recognition and boost employee engagement? Let’s explore the topic of employee recognition; from its definition and importance to useful employee recognition ideas for small businesses.

Table of contents
  1. What Is Employee Recognition?
  2. Why Is Employee Recognition Important?
  3. How to Boost Positive Recognition and Engagement
  4. Does Positive Recognition Really Impact Turnover?
  5. The Bottom Line on Employee Recognition

Did you know that happy employees are one of the best ways to increase work productivity? 

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. 

Having happy employees also boosts employee retention, engagement, commitment, and job satisfaction. And the cherry on top: it increases customer satisfaction and loyalty aswell.

And one of the best, cheapest, and possibly most underrated ways to keep your employees happy is with a good dose of positive recognition. 

When you facilitate employee recognition, you help create an effective and productive company culture and a positive work environment. Showing your employees that you appreciate them, helps them feel good about themselves and motivated to perform better. It’s a win-win situation!

What Is Employee Recognition?

In a nutshell, employee recognition is the acknowledgment of your staff members for who they are, what they do, and their outstanding performance. It aims to encourage favorable behaviors, actions, or efforts that improve employee performance and produce positive business results.

Through positive recognition, companies can express appreciation and gratitude for employees that go the extra mile. Besides improving the overall employee experience, regular staff recognition encourages the rest of the team to follow suit, driving a culture of excellence. Additional benefits of employee recognition include increased workplace engagement, productivity, job satisfaction, and employee retention.

Why Is Employee Recognition Important?

As mentioned, if you’re looking to lower turnover and increase retention, the power of employee recognition can do wonders for your business.

A study found that companies who invested in employee support and satisfaction had happier employees. So, when Google implemented that very same employee incentive, they saw a 37% rise in employee satisfaction. 

This is because financial rewards just aren’t enough to make employees productive! Employee recognition is so much more than money and promotions.

Now that you understand the power of employee recognition, let’s break down how you can implement positive recognition into your day-to-day life without breaking the bank.

Download your FREE guide on “6 Pillars for Improving Frontline Employee Retention” ⤵

Effective Employee Recognition Program

How to Boost Positive Recognition and Engagement

You can recognize your employees for their efforts in countless ways. Employee recognition ideas for small businesses can range from hanging a picture of your excelling team members on your office’s wall of fame to adding a salary bonus to reward employees with tangible rewards.

When coming up with your recognition program, bear the following 7 points in mind to help it reach its full potential.

Use an Employee Recognition Tool

In this world that has gone completely digital, we manage pretty much every aspect of our lives on our mobile phones, and if working from an office, on our computers. So what better way to communicate your recognition and reach 100% of your staff in a fast, efficient, and effective way than on their devices using a digital positive recognition tool.

An employee recognition software solution provides you with all the tools you need to make your employees feel appreciated, engaged, and motivated to perform at their best day after day, no matter where they are working from. 

With Connecteam, for instance, you can easily send your employees recognitions with customizable badges with personalized messages for any big moment, such as birthdays and exceptional achievements. You can send recognitions privately or put your employee in the spotlight by sharing a post on the company’s social feed (just like on social media) to motivate others and drive a culture of excellence. You also have the option to send your employees real, tangible rewards as tokens of gratitude for their effort.

And the best part is that there are some very easy-to-use and affordable positive recognition tools out there. Connecteam, for instance, is very intuitive to use and even includes a free plan.

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Frequently Dish Out Positive Recognition

Employee recognition is a basic must-have in any business today – whether you are a small business owner or lead a large corporation. And the key to effective employee recognition is to make it a regular practice. In fact, Gallup reports that you should be praising an employee at least once a week. You can even go a step further and set up a positive recognition program to be sure you make it part of your day-to-day.  

By recognizing your employees in real-time, you make them feel seen and appreciated and give them a clear understanding of what they’re doing well (instead of having to wait for their yearly performance evaluation). This gives them an instant boost and motivates them to continue to do or even exceed whatever they are doing.

While this may seem like a big switch or time-consuming, you will soon see that this is an exceptional and non-costly way to boost employee engagement and performance.

Give Reasoning for Why the Employee Received Recognition

Explain to your employee the reasons why you recognize their efforts. This will help them understand what they are doing right and motivate them to keep up the good work or even go beyond. By pinpointing which behaviors, efforts, or actions you most value in your team members, you also give your other employees the necessary insight into how they can improve their performance and reach that same level of excellence as well.

Even if what you recognize them for is simple, your employee will continue to want to prove themselves, as they know their efforts are noticed.

Shine the Spotlight on Employees

While giving your employees positive feedback privately may be most suitable in some cases, don’t hold back from putting them in the spotlight from time to time. You can do this for anything, from sharing birthday wishes or thanking an employee for their years of service to celebrating your team for reaching its targets or nominating an employee of the month.

By taking the time to recognize and celebrate their personal achievements and team victories, whether in or out of the office, your employees will appreciate the attention and be motivated to work harder. Now that’s a win-win.

recognition employee app interface

Get Regular Feedback

Collect feedback from employees to see if any initiatives you might have implemented are working. You can, for instance, ask them for feedback after a meeting, on a weekly basis, after a company outing, or during onboarding. 

Sometimes, it might be intimidating for employees to actually speak up and sharetell their honest thoughts openly because they might be afraid of criticism or some negative consequences. To help them out, consider introducing an “open-door” policy where employees can directly approach HR or senior management to share their concerns. You can also use organizational surveys or create a suggestion box that employees can access at any time to see if they notice any improvements since any changes were implemented. 

Speaking of going digital – the right employee recognition tool will include a solution for this as well.  

Give Employees More Say

An important part of employee recognition is making your team feel heard and showing them that you value their input. You can do this, for instance, by giving your employees the ability to recommend or choose the employee of the month. This will help boost their connection to the company and encourage them to achieve that same success.

You can also request employee feedback on a new project plan by launching a virtual suggestion box or make organizational decisions based on employee satisfaction surveys. Allowing them to partake in such decisions further helps them feel like they are an important part of your company and become more invested in driving its success.

To learn more about employee surveys, check out our article: What is an Employee Recognition Survey? + 15 Questions to Include


Last but certainly not least: good internal communication is vital for better positive recognition and employee engagement

Communicating employee recognition can easily slip onto the back burner, especially as more and more teams are working remotely. This makes communicating employee recognition across your business all the more important. 

Effective workplace communication firstly allows your teams to communicate how your employees are performing across your company, enabling you to better identify a job well done. You can then communicate these achievements and any potential rewards to the relevant employee or across your staff to set a positive example and highlight that positive recognition is an important part of your business’ culture

If your supervisors and managers are new to this concept, having a training session on how to conduct recognition activities will help them improve the way they recognize their employees for a job well done. 

Does Positive Recognition Really Impact Turnover?

The cost of turnover alone is around 30% of an employee’s annual salary, whereas some say it could be double their yearly salary. 

Consider the time and energy you go through during hiring and onboarding, now think how much goes into replacing the employee: 

  • Recruiting costs (advertising, interviewing, screening, etc.)
  • Onboarding costs
  • Productivity loss (at least three months pass before an employee shows value)
  • Training costs

However, in addition to unnecessary extra costs, there are emotional costs as well. Employee morale and workplace productivity can take a hit whenever someone leaves the company. By offering positive recognition regularly, you are increasing the likelihood that your employees will want to stay at your company. 

The Bottom Line on Employee Recognition

By acknowledging the people that are working with you, you not only make them feel better, you are also helping them to perform better. When combined, this translates directly into your overall business success.

Don’t fall for the myth that you need money for employee recognition – it is just not true. Employees just need to feel acknowledged, respected, and valued for them to stay loyal and motivated. A simple supportive message, birthday greetings, or team appraisal can perfectly do the job without any extra cost.Using an employee recognition tool, such as Connecteam, will help you get your message across in an effective and engaging way and make sure that you reach each and every employee, no matter where they are working from.

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