Employee Recognition Best Practices Lead to Success in Current Economy

Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” In the current economy, I can assure you that a compliment in the workplace may last even longer.

Recognition and appreciation are the compliments employees most desire in today’s work environment. Sadly, many institutions have cancelled their employee recognition events and programs in the wake of our nation’s poor economic conditions. What CEOs and legislators may not realize is this decision may prohibit a quicker economic recovery.

Success Factor
The practice of employee recognition is known to be an influential success factor that positively impacts an organization’s bottom line. Companies atop Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For List consistently out-perform their competitors in the measure of average return to shareholders; many of these companies are known for their employee perks, recognition practices and incentives.

Employee recognition motivates, engages and retains employees -“ all of which make or save companies money. These practices are more important today than ever before and remain easily attainable, even in a down economy. Thankfully for businesses today, some of the best appreciation is still free.

Create a Recognition Strategy
In order for employee recognition to deliver results for your organization, develop a strategy that links the practice of recognition to business goals and objectives. A recognition strategy identifies what behaviors you will recognize, and how they contribute to accomplishing goals.

Recognition strategy is the first best practice standard as identified by Recognition Professionals International (RPI), a non-profit association dedicated to the study and promotion of employee recognition. The organization has developed seven best practice standards that organizations can follow to implement a successful recognition program. Baudville was a founding member of the association, and we have implemented the best practices in our own recognition strategy. Here is a brief overview of the best practices you’ll want to use in your own organization:

RPI’s Best Practice Standards
1. Recognition Strategy. Document the programs you will use in your organization, what behaviors they recognize and how they contribute to company goals or objectives.

2. Management Responsibility. Get management support by presenting the recognition strategy. Be up-front about the costs of recognition and more importantly, the savings and earnings your organization will experience.

3. Recognition Program Measurement. What gets measured gets done. Develop rigor for measuring the success of recognition in your organization and accountability measures for key implementers, such as managers.

4. Communication Plan. Inform all employees about the recognition strategy and consistently communicate the program’s successes, changes and happenings.

5. Recognition Training. Most often, managers are the ones responsible for administering recognition on a regular basis. Equip managers for success with training that covers when to recognize, how to recognize and explain any tools you may be using.

6. Recognition Events and Celebrations. Employee recognition is often implemented through grand events and celebrations. Don’t be afraid to hold your regular events in 2009, but do it at a smaller scale. Believe it or not, employees will be appreciative you did anything at all.

7. Program Change and Flexibility. Every great program must experience change during its life cycle. Stay on top of employee and management preferences and make changes as needed to keep recognition successful in your organization.

Employee recognition is a valuable business tool, and it is especially indispensable during the current economic times. The regular and sincere practice of recognition can keep employees engaged and satisfied with their work. When employees feel appreciated, they will approach their work with greater fervor and remain committed to your organization. Hand out compliments to your employees now, and they will remain with your company long after the recession in order to experience new successes.

Brad Darooge is president and CEO of Baudville, one of the 2008 West Michigan’s 101 Best & Brightest Companies to Work For.

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Richard Blanchard
Rick is the Managing Editor of Corp! magazine. He has worked in reporting and editing roles at the Port Huron Times Herald, Lansing State Journal and The Detroit News, where he was most recently assistant business editor. A native of Michigan, Richard also worked in Washington state as a reporter, photographer and editor at the Anacortes American. He received a bachelor of arts from the University of Michigan and a master’s in accountancy from the University of Phoenix.