Seven ways employee recognition impacts engagement

Would you say your employees are engaged? Most companies know the benefits of having highly engaged employees. But some can be less clear about how to achieve that engagement.

One of the most effective ways is through manager and peer to peer recognition. Here are seven ways employee recognition can improve engagement levels in your company.

1. To sustain the manager / employee relationship

Probably the most important factor of all in engagement is the relationship between you and your employees. In fact, it can pretty much make or break it. A poor relationship is one of the main reasons people leave their job. And a great relationship can be one of the most powerful reasons that an employee wants to stay and give maximum effort. If an employee feels their efforts are continually recognised by you, they’ll feel appreciated, valued and engaged as a result.

2. To build stronger team relationships

According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, two of the most important psychological needs humans have are to be appreciated and to belong. We’re social beings. Recognition of one another’s efforts and accomplishments can contribute to a sense of ‘being in it together’. It reinforces a sense of collaboration. Using recognition to help an employee feel like a valued member of a team is a key part of engagement.

3. To increase levels of trust

By recognising your employees, you’re telling them you see the effort they’re putting in and the results they’re creating. You’re telling them you appreciate both. You’re also telling them you have confidence in them.
That creates a sense of trust that’s vital to engagement; you’re indicating and reinforcing to the employee that you’re comfortable giving them the autonomy they need to use their skills to their best effect within a supportive environment.

4. To make employees feel valued as individuals

It’s not just about being recognised. It’s how that recognition’s shown. If employees have a manager who cares about what’s going on in their life (and not just in work) they feel more secure, supported and valued. As a result they’ll feel more engaged and motivated to continually perform at their best.

For engagement to be really effective, remember every employee’s motivated by different things. While it’s nice to have money, it doesn’t create an ongoing sense of being appreciated. Your employees have distinct personalities. Different likes and dislikes. Take the time to understand those preferences then use that information to recognise employees in a personal, memorable and truly meaningful way. It doesn’t have to have a physical cost. A shorter working day to get away for the weekend a couple of hours early. A longer lunch break to fit in some exercise.

Basically, anything that creates positive emotions and goodwill can deepen engagement.

5. To create a sense of purpose

One of the things most guaranteed to create a sense of disengagement is feeling like your contribution at work doesn’t make any kind of difference.

Purpose engages people. So employees need a sense of how their work has a purpose and you can use recognition to do that. Tell them they’re on track and that they’re doing the right things. Tell them how their actions are contributing to the wider goals of the organisation.

6. To provide ongoing feedback

A sense of mastery engages employees by motivating them to challenge themselves and address problems in an innovative way. But to achieve this sense of mastery, you need to give regular guidance in the form of ongoing meaningful and constructive feedback.

This is exactly what effective recognition helps you to do. It encourages your employees to work to the best of their ability by thanking them and rewarding them for something done well. It highlights their accomplishments but it also shows appreciation where effort’s gone in and the results haven’t quite been as expected. It tells them that part of improving is accepting that things don’t always go to plan – but that’s ok. You value the fact they’ve tried.

7. To make sure everyone feels included

Certain approaches, like employee of the month, may feel great for the recipient but they’re not so great for everyone else left wondering why they weren’t recognised despite all their hard work. That can actually lead to disengagement if you’re not careful.

Recognition done well includes everyone and as a result engages everyone. So make sure whatever approach to recognition you take, it’s an approach that lets you say thanks to all your employees. And ideally make sure it lets everyone say thanks to each other too.