To Make Your Workplace Happier In 2017: Recognize Your Colleagues’ Work More
Some of the most common New Year’s resolutions are to lose weight, save more money and live life to the fullest. But this year, consider adopting one that will cost little time or effort and will make you and your co-workers happier: Pledge to recognize your colleagues more often for their work. Human resources consulting firm O.C. Tanner recently released data on the state of employee recognition, and FORBES spoke with its vice president of marketing, Gary Beckstrand, about how to give recognition effectively.
Late last year, O.C. Tanner surveyed nearly 3,500 employees of large companies and found that 29% hadn’t given recognition to a co-worker over the past month. Among nonmanagers, the figure was 36%.
Another recent study found that more than 50% of Ameri-
cans want more recognition from supervisors, and 43% want more recognition from colleagues. And research shows recognition is a great motivator. Among the factors that drive employees to produce great work, recognition was the biggest lever, according to an O.C. Tanner-commissioned report.
Tips For Recognizing Your Colleagues
Given the need for more recognition, how can you deliver it effectively? Beckstrand shared best practices for making your messages sink in.
“Be timely,” he says. Recognize good work as quickly as possible. It makes your comments more relevant and powerful, and it increases the likelihood that you’ll complete the important task.
“Recognition is most meaningful when delivered publicly among co-workers,” adds Beckstrand. Go to an employee’s desk and recognize her among her peers. If some employees prefer to receive feedback in private, certainly grant their request, but for others, socializing the feedback boosts their reputation. It also broadcasts a culture of recognition.
Beckstrand’s third tip is to be specific. Acknowledge the action the employee took and the results. Explain how it benefited the company and connected to a larger business objective. These details will add depth to your message and make it stick.
Best Practices For Managers And HR Professionals
Executives and HR professionals should design recognition programs that everyone—not just managers—can participate in. “Provide little- or no-cost opportunities to say thank you, like e-cards,” says Beckstrand. In O.C. Tanner’s survey, among people who often give recognition, more than 90% said their team had a formal recognition program that was easy to use and well-publicized by their organization. Social media-style recognition websites can be effective.
But don’t let tech tools dominate your recognition strategy. “Social media can drive recognition awareness quickly. But sometimes that limits the meaningfulness of the recognition,” says Beckstrand. Giving face-to-face feedback is critical and should be done often. Weekly team meetings are great opportunities to rec- ognize an employee in front of her colleagues.
HR and senior managers should train junior managers and employees on how to give recognition and shouldn’t position recognition as another HR to-do. Explain why it’s valuable— for instance, it can help an employee reach his goals by making his team more productive. And keep managers accountable. Check in and ask them who they recognized this week.
Lastly, don’t let HR be the only department pulling the company toward more recognition. “You need representation from all levels of the organization to come together, participate, provide input and help design the program,” says Beckstrand. Ask leaders to model the ideal behavior.