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How To Recognize Your People in 8 Unique Ways

By Jillian Broaddus and Chuck Cusumano

In our last two blog posts (you can read them here and here), we’ve discussed a gaping gap in both employee appreciation and basic employee recognition in the American workplace. The lack of these two things, both intersecting and distinct, is a primary reason over 65% of the workforce is either unengaged or actively disengaged in their jobs. What does this mean? In simple terms, only 1 in 3 people on your payroll wants to be there – and the work they are producing will reflect that.

Creating a culture shift to enhance appreciation and recognition isn’t a finite, 1-2-3-step procedure. It’s an ongoing initiative, a journey without a finish line, and a process that will take effort, humility, and adaptability.

However, here are the first few steps to show employees they ARE recognized:

1. Don’t let emails go unanswered – The easiest way to make someone feel unrecognized is by making them feel ignored. We know it’s hard – we receive an average of 150 emails per day! However, try to make it a point to respond to each and every email (even if it’s only an acknowledgement of receipt) and see how others react!

2. Hallway culture – Try this out: Abide by the quote, “It’s better to be the person that waved, than the one who didn’t wave back.” Are your hallways friendly? Eye contact and a passing smile can go a long way, as opposed to a bustling corridor of eyes glued down to their smart phones.

3. Debrief projects – You wouldn’t climb a mountain only to get to the top and immediately turn around. Enjoy the view at the top! Don’t let any project end without reflecting on the process and results. Make it a point to recognize any- and everyone who contributed to the project’s completion.

4. Formal recognition process – Does a formal recognition process exist within your team? Take this example: Austin, Texas-based event planning company Red Velvet Events has a unique way of recognizing employees that simultaneously reflects their fun-loving culture. Each weekly staff meeting, a red, plastic troll down is passed along to a team member who has gone above and beyond. That team member then adds a new accessory – anything from a bow tie to a Sharpie tattoo – before passing it along!

5. Celebration events Along with an individualized recognition process, how about a team- or organization-wide celebration event? Host a party, plan a concert, or organize a potluck. Whatever you do, make sure your people know it is because you appreciate and recognize their efforts.

6. Go out to lunch – You can only learn so much about someone within the confines of the office. Every week, take someone out to lunch and don’t talk about work. Get to know them – ask about their interests, family, hobbies, and dreams. Pay attention to their responses.

7. Encourage peer-to-peer recognition – If you’re the leader, your ability to personally recognize each and every member of a large team can only go so far. Instead, set up processes and practices in place for peer-to-peer recognition. This can be as simple as creating a break room white board where employees can give shout outs to one another!

8. Offer personal development opportunities – Perhaps the top way to show someone you care about them is to encourage their dreams and goals outside of work. If your employee wants to run a marathon, encourage a work-from-home day on a nice afternoon to fit a long lunchtime run in! If another wants to learn how to code, find a way to offer them the opportunity to take continuing education classes. The dreams of your people are limitless, and so are the possibilities for you to offer assistance!

Do you have your own tried and true methods for enhancing recognition in your workplace? Let us know!

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