Want to Keep Your Best Workers From Quitting? Start Practicing This Daily Habit of the Best Companies

A lack of this necessary human practice (recognition) is the third-most common reason employees choose to leave their employers.

Written By Marcel Schwantes Founder and Chief Human Officer, Leadership From the Core

Giving recognition to an employee with a trophy

Photo by Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash

It is human nature to want to feel recognized by managers and co-workers for good performance and hard work. We are wired to desire praise and recognition, and it’s good for our brains.

The chemical dopamine, a neurotransmitter produced in the brain, stimulates the parts of the brain that process rewards and create positive emotions like satisfaction and enjoyment.

But the outlook on recognition for employees, unfortunately, isn’t always positive.

A recent report by Paychex found that 33.5 percent of workers feel they’re not shown the gratitude they deserve, whereas nearly half of surveyed workers said they highly value gratitude from their boss.

Why recognition matters.

If employees don’t receive the recognition they desire, they may be headed for the door. Case in point, a lack of recognition is the third-most common reason employees choose to leave their employers, according to a survey of 1,154 people by Achievers.

With two-thirds of employees saying they may quit this year, business leaders must take action to engage their workforce and build a desirable culture to proactively prevent turnover. To do this, leaders must become recognition champions.

Jeff Cates, CEO and president of Achievers, drives home this point: “We know how impactful receiving positive feedback, encouragement, and praise for a job well done can be for all employees. That’s why business leaders and even managers must show gratitude to their teams, and why I see them as recognition champions for their organization.”

For decision makers who don’t see the link between recognition and tangible business outcomes, there are several reasons to consider why recognition matters, including:

  • Recognition activates company culture. Culture matters to employees, so when you recognize everyday behaviors that align with your company’s values and unite people around a common cause, you activate your culture and drive business success.
  • Recognition enables employee engagement. Managers account for at least 70 percent of the variance in employee engagement scores — with recognition as a huge enabler of engagement — and Gallup finds the behaviors of highly engaged business units result in 21 percent greater profitability. Feeling valued is essential for employees to feel committed and engaged at work.
  • Recognition translates to performance. According to a Harvard Business Review Analytic Services report, 71 percent of respondents in executive roles call employee engagement very important to achieving organizational business goals. Behavior that gets recognized gets repeated, which is why actions that improve organizational alignment, innovation, service, and growth should be recognized every day.

Strategies for delivering high-quality recognition.

The evidence is clear and convincing. The companies with the highest engagement levels use recognition and praise as a powerful motivator to get their employees to stay committed. To bolster your own recognition practices for positive business outcomes, consider the following strategies.

Recognition should be timely and in-the-moment.

The content and frequency of recognition each employee desires can vary, but the bottom line is that timing counts. Recognition should be given in-the-moment and regularly. A recent HBR study found it was an average of 50 days since employees said they last felt recognized. Leadership should set the standard for how frequently recognition is given and how that permeates the organization. If it isn’t already part of the company’s culture, leaders need to set the tone to ensure consistency across the company.

Recognition should be reinforced year-round.

Employees shouldn’t be recognized just at the end of a quarter or year. To create a culture of recognition where strong performances and behaviors are acknowledged every day, employers must reinforce the importance of year-round recognition. Empowering everyone in an organization to showcase values and actions important to the company puts the power directly into the employee’s hands, and makes sure employees carry on those actions throughout the year.

Recognition must be personal.

To make an impact on employees, effective recognition has to be personal. Employees are more likely to react strongly to personal thank-you notes or tailored shout-outs on internal social networks. When the celebration is specific and transparent and describes the behavior being lauded, social recognition can be more impactful than monetary awards.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com or verticalbridge.ca.


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