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Employee Recognition: Why It’s So Important and How to Do It

Employee appreciation / Employee Engagement


Human resources firm Bersin found in a 2012 study that 87 percent of companies utilize tenure-based employee recognition programs, despite research showing these methods are outdated. Furthermore, the study concluded that tenure programs have absolutely no impact on overall employee or organization performance.

The employee recognition industry is worth more than $46 billion annually, or about 2 percent of total payroll for individual companies. People innately desire acknowledgment and appreciation for their accomplishments, but many business owners and managers have a false belief that recognition means money. The human resources department at MIT found that a simple thank you, being given the proper tools to do the job and inclusion in important decisions are enough to make most employees feel appreciated.

A company is only as good as the employees that make it all happen. Here are three ways to recognize and show appreciation for your best employees.

Work-From-Home Days

Cary Cooper, an organizational psychology professor at Lancaster University, told the Guardian that the primary reason employers balk at the idea of telecommuting is because they don’t trust their employees. These are the businesses that will be left behind and lose good employees in the process.

The Harvard Business Review published the results of a study that followed employees of a Chinese call center called Ctrip. Half of the workers telecommuted for nine months while the rest remained in the call center. The work-from-home employees completed 13.5 percent more calls than their in-office counterparts, amounting to an extra day of productivity every week. Furthermore, the telecommuters quit half as often as office workers. They also reported a much higher job satisfaction.

Work-from-home days as recognition for a job well done is a win-win situation. Send a company-wide email acknowledging the recipient’s accomplishment(s) and let everyone know they will be working from home tomorrow for the job well done. Telecommuting days also serve as a de facto monetary award since the employee will save money on gas and lunch.

Mobile Devices

The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) phenomenon has officially become standard business practice in the U.S. In 2013, a TechRepublic and ZDNet survey found that 62 percent of companies already had or will launch some form of BYOD program by the end of that year. Additionally, Gartner predicts that half of American companies will require employees to supply their own device by 2017.

There’s no better way to launch your BYOD program than by rewarding productive, hard-working employees with new mobile devices for both work and personal use. For salespeople and others who are on the road, supply them with a new smartphone like the Galaxy Note 3. And for office workers, provide them with a tablet or laptop like the iPad Air.

Like telecommuting, BYOD is also mutually beneficial to both parties. A 2013 study by Cisco found that on average BYOD workers put in an extra 37 minutes of work per week. Managers can add more incentive by offering to pay the monthly bill each month the employee hits their goals.


Starbucks and gasoline gift cards are great universal rewards that fit just about everyone’s tastes. However, a great way to build loyalty is to reward workers with something personal.

Send out a company-wide email with questions each employee must answer. Ask about their favorite music groups, television shows and hobbies. Then, for your top salesperson who just happens to be a big basketball fan, give tickets to a local professional or college basketball game. Buy an avid hunter a gift card to Bass Pro Shop and a gamer a gift card to Best Buy. The gesture will show you pay attention to their personal interests as well as your appreciation for their hard work.

Employee recognition is the key to a well-oiled, profitable company. From small to large ways, employee appreciation is an essential part of all successful businesses.

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