Why Employee Recognition Makes for a Happy Workplace

Recognition has perhaps become a bit of a joke, but we’re not talking about gold stars on your monthly report or adulting awards: genuine employee recognition can make for a happier (and more productive) workplace.  It comes from all levels, can be created as part of a workplace culture, and can even make a difference in your bottom line.

So, here’s how to make 2017 the year of the happy workplace.

Workplace Happiness

How much does workplace happiness matter?  Perhaps more than ever.  People are more productive when they are happier, as much as 20% more productive.  Workplace happiness can come from several factors, with employees reporting a variety of reasons for job satisfaction: co-workers, mentorship, pay, even attire can all play a role.

Recognition trumps all of those factors.  A recent study found that 71% of employees found appreciative words to be the most important motivation they have ever received (ahead even of monetary recognition).

Happy employees demonstrate workplace engagement, which can translate to:

  • Fewer sick days
  • Lower employee turnover
  • Better task completion
  • Greater dedication to corporate mission
  • Better customer service
  • Improved financial outcome

Given all of the possible rewards, there’s really no reason to not aim to create a happier working environment.

Worthwhile Recognition

Colleague and team recognition are just as important as managerial recognition to workplace happiness.  It’s important that recognition not become just another item on the “to do” list of the HR department and a few key managers.

Anyone interested in improving the happiness of their working environment (which can also translate into improving their own happiness, can practice regular colleague recognition).  Managers, ideally, would also create a culture of recognition, by setting the example but also providing opportunities for regular recognition.

Recognition can be simple and still very effective. Some key components of worthwhile recognition include:

  • Keep it sincere—No one likes a phony compliment.
  • Keep it specific—Name exactly what was done and any observable positive outcomes, be it to the overall project, a customer, or another team member.
  • Keep it timely—Take the time to recognize team members immediately after successful outcomes, just as you would write a thank you note shortly after receiving a gift (and not months later).
  • Make it personal—Even if several people contributed, take the little extra time to acknowledge each person individually for their contribution, instead of just an overall statement of recognition.
  • Make it public—Unless you have a team member that really does not like public compliments, go ahead and socialize recognition by making the recognition public, where others can see or hear it.
  • Don’t leave anyone out—If you are recognizing more than one team member involved in a project, go ahead and query a key participant to find out who all contributed. You do not want to leave out anyone when it comes to recognition.
  • Keep a record—Making a policy of putting a copy of a recognition in employee HR files can also help create a culture of recognition. Even just a quick email to HR, for an employee’s record, along with a statement to the individual that you, “Went ahead and let HR know what a great job you did,” can add weight to an important recognition.

Just Get Started

If you haven’t been regularly recognizing employee contribution, it can be a little awkward to get started.  Persist!  You and your colleagues will all get comfortable with voiced recognition, public compliments, and other signs of a job well-done as you continue to create a culture of workplace happiness.

No adulting certificate required! (Unless you’d like to).

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