Employee Recognition: Small Things Make a Big Difference 

As we all continue to navigate the new work normal, we’ve entered a phase where more businesses are starting to re-open and onsite employees are returning to offices where social distancing is enforced. Yet as daily stressors mix with the increased pressure we all face to stay productive and motivated, some employees may feel their efforts may be lost in the shuffle. 

That’s why it’s important for managers to make sure their employees feel valued and acknowledged for their efforts. It doesn’t take much, but during times like this, small gestures make a huge impact. Here are a few simple recognition ideas that can create a positive impact on your team. 

Understand Recognition Preferences 

One of the most meaningful ways to recognize employees is by knowing their personal recognition preferences. This can be as simple as knowing that they prefer to be recognized one-on-one rather than in a group meeting. This knowledge will help create recognition moments that resonate most with employees and create experiences that can motivate them.

So encourage your managers during their next meetings with each of their employees to ask how they like to be recognized and what meaningful recognition means to them. Then start putting this into practice in your day-to-day interactions with them. 

Ensure Employees Feel Seen and Heard 

As employees are called back to the office, they may have colleagues that are continuing to work remotely to ensure social distancing and limited in-person interaction. While this will help ensure safety protocols for those returning to the workplace, the lack of in-person interaction may lead to feelings of loneliness. Indeed, nearly 60% of respondents to Cigna’s 2020 Loneliness Index Report said they felt lonely. 

With this in mind, it’s more important to check in on your employees to see how they are doing. As your business reopens, they may have concerns or questions, so make sure you are supporting them by being proactive, listening to their concerns, and working toward finding solutions. Notice the everyday moments, for instance, when co-workers are able to help their colleagues. Then recognize that behavior in real time. Doing so will reinforce the value they bring to the organization and let them know that you notice them and their work. 

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Practice Gratitude 

We all have things that are weighing on us right now, both in our personal and professional lives. At the same time, we may not know everything that our co-workers are facing right now, so aim to lead with gratitude and kindness. 

It’s important to take the time to let others know that their contributions are meaningful. When possible, try to quantify the impact their efforts have on the organization. For example, if their actions directly contributed to a 10% increase in company revenue, let them know. Providing tangible examples of how their work has made a difference throughout the organization is a great motivator. 

Employee recognition has always played a significant role in keeping teams productive and motivated. As we all continue to navigate a new normal, acknowledging and recognizing your employees for the everyday “wins” matters more than ever.

As senior vice president of customer experience for Inspirus, Theresa Harkins uses her deep experience to create long-lasting impact and success. She’s an influential pioneer who has led award-winning Fortune 500 recognition organizations and was one of the chief drivers behind the certification of recognition professionals.

Theresa has a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), Certified Compensational Professional (CCP) and is the co-creator of the Certified Recognition Professional (CRP) designation. 

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