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02 Dec 2022
by David Watts

Small things matter when it comes to showing employees some love

Lavish in-house awards events are not always the moments that are remembered by employees

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If I was to tell my wife I loved her only on our wedding anniversary and Valentine’s Day, she would probably divorce me. It’s the small, regular moments of love and appreciation rather than the infrequent and big romantic gestures that make all the difference and cement relationships together.

However, this thinking isn’t always reflected in the workplace. Too many organisations hold one or two awards ceremonies each year which provide an opportunity to recognise people’s achievements. Large-scale affairs, they normally cost a fortune and tend to only appreciate a select number of employees with the recognition benefits short-lived.

But frequent, tailored recognition experiences spread throughout the year have a larger, more lasting impact on workplace culture than singular company-wide, all-employee events, regardless of how much organisations spend. Bigger is not always better.

Forget generic and impersonal

The power of recognition is now well known, helping employees to feel appreciated and a valued part of the work community. However, how and when the recognition is delivered is crucial to its success, with generic, impersonal and rare recognition moments far less likely to hit the mark.

Research on gift giving even shows that expensive, infrequent gifts do not have the long-term impact that might be expected. Smaller, gestures given more often are far more meaningful and valued by the recipient, particularly if personalised. Plus, recognition moments don’t always need to involve monetary rewards or gifts, they can be as simple as a handwritten thank you note, verbal recognition during a meeting, or a symbol of appreciation given in front of teammates.

The key is that organisations should focus on a recognition programme that regularly celebrates small efforts or achievements that take place across its entire workforce, rather than providing a few rewards for a small number of ‘high fliers’, such as the top salesperson or the store of the month.

Meaningful recognition is key

Those organisations that make intentional adjustments to their recognition programme to allow more frequent and meaningful recognition to ensure all employees feel valued and appreciated will enjoy the largest benefits to its workplace culture, including improved engagement and reduced attrition.

As part of this, organisations must strive to integrate recognition into everyday working life, with leaders and employees able to appreciate others in the flow of work. Recognition must also be built into team meeting agendas and ones-to-ones as well as career milestones, with the introduction of a recognition platform increasing the likelihood of appreciation becoming embedded into everyday organisational culture.

And so, although the large and glitzy awards celebrations can be a great buzz at the time, with a small number of employees lauded, they simply don’t compare to a recognition programme that focuses on the smaller moments that matter. This approach, when personalised and meaningful, provides the foundation for a truly great employee experience.

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