Rise Performance Group

The Secret to Employee Satisfaction: Say Thank You!

By Sarah Watson

They say it’s the thought that counts, but employees of Torbay Hospital in England might disagree. The hospital was in the news recently after many of their employees were insulted when they were rewarded for a job well done with, wait for it, a Kit Kat.

Vouchers for Kit Kat bars were placed inside employees’ pay slips as a thank you after the hospital won a prestigious award. The hospital’s intent was almost certainly a good one; however, it backfired and left workers feeling undervalued and unappreciated. So what did the hospital do wrong and how do you thank employees the right way?

A new study on employee recognition has produced some astounding results. The study found that organizations that give regular thanks to their employees far out perform those that don’t. You probably have an employee recognition program in your organization, after all, there’s a $46 billion market for it, but is it effective? Bersin & Associates reported that 87 percent of these recognition programs are based on tenure, not performance. Most companies reward people for just hanging around, and these programs have virtually no impact on organizational performance. It’s a safe bet that most employees aren’t going to stay an extra year in their job to earn a plaque (or work harder for a candy bar). The study goes on to say that only 58 percent of employees are even aware these programs exist.

On the other hand, companies that scored in the top 20 percent for building a “recognition-rich culture” had 21 percent lower voluntary turnover rates! A modern recognition program can have a tremendous impact on employees and overall business performance. So what does a modern recognition program look like? Josh Bersin, who runs Bersin & Associates, recently published an article on Forbes outlining the best practices for employee recognition.

  • Recognition based on specific results and behaviors – Decide what criteria for what performance constitutes a reward, not just “Employee of the Month.” Give an award to an employee when he or she delivers outstanding customer service or goes out of their way to finish a project.
  • Peer to peer recognition – Not all recognition has to come from managers. Modern programs are “social” meaning they let anyone in the company recognize anyone. Thank you’s are public and prominently displayed so everyone can see them. Companies like Achievers and Globoforce make social recognition easy. Some programs give employees budgets for ‘dollars’ or ‘points’ to award other employees. They can do it online in seconds and make the recognition visible to everyone! The trick is to make it simple and easy.
  • Share stories of success – When an employee does something noteworthy, tell people about it! Share their story in your company blog or newsletter so other employees have the opportunity to hear about it and learn from the story.
  • Incorporate your company’s values and goals in recognition – When establishing the criteria that constitutes recognition; make sure you focus on your company’s values. Bersin & Associates suggests when you give someone a “thank you” award, it should be tied to your company’s strategy (customer service, innovation, teamwork or revenue based.)

Many managers make the mistake of focusing only on the bottom line, and sometimes overlook employee recognition. They don’t realize that the number one reason people leave is because of lack of recognition at work, and if they’re losing their best employees, that hurts their bottom line. You don’t have to break the bank to thank employees either (but it should probably be more than a Kit Kat.) Check out the free whitepaper below for tips on motivating without money. Taking the time to let your employees know you appreciate them makes them feel valued and is good for the overall success of your organization.

How does your organization recognize exceptional employees? Let us know!

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