Compliments are one of the best employee recognition tactics.

We are here to remind you: Recognize employees for small wins regularly. Doing so results in a confident, productive workplace. Praise for specific acts of excellence builds employee self-confidence and increases engagement.

Employee recognition is one of the most important responsibilities of leaders. It’s smart business, directly affecting productivity, retention, and overall culture. Everyone likes to hear, “You are great at what you do!” every so often.

The best employee recognition fulfills a “core emotional need” in humans: to feel important. Your employees want to work for leaders who value them. Unfortunately, too many well-meaning employee recognition programs don’t make this emotional connection with employees.

Ensure that your workplace leaders recognize employees effectively. Invest time and structured training so managers understand recognition expectations and teach them how to effectively recognize people. We have put together some expert tips on what to do and what NOT to do when recognizing employees.

5 Common Employee Recognition Mistakes

Employee recognition should be part of a company’s annual plan and budget. However, ineffective efforts waste too much time and money. Here are five common mistakes when recognizing employees — and how to correct them:

Tell employees when they are awesome at something!1. Recognition isn’t a habit

Is recognition saved for an “event” in your workplace? Celebrations are wonderful, but they are more effective when complemented by regular and on-the-spot recognition. Don’t rely on events alone to communicate your gratitude to employees. Recognition should be a daily habit – and for some people, it takes practice. The more you normalize “acts of recognition” in your workplace, the more it will happen among peers.

2. Money is the main motivator

Everybody loves a little extra cash, but it isn’t the only or even the top employee motivator. What employees really respond to is clearly communicated appreciation. Monetary recognition without true thanks can be misinterpreted. There are a wide variety of ways to share praise and recognition that help employees shine that don’t cost a dime.

3. Leaving recognition to HR

Employees need to hear recognition from their own leaders. Your HR team may be responsible for coordinating engagement and recognition efforts, but leaders and managers should be regularly involved. Make sure team leaders are on board, fully supportive and ready to communicate recognition on the job. Tell them, “Don’t wait for someone else to recognize your incredible team! Do it yourself — and often!”

4. Recognition only happens at the holidays

The annual office holiday party can be an important cultural tradition in your organization. Celebrating together at the holidays is a meaningful way to share appreciation and have fun. But those good feelings can seem short-lived and are actually desired year-round. There is no “off season” for recognition. Plan ways to celebrate and show appreciation all year long.

5. Recognition isn’t explained

If employees don’t know why they’re being recognized, they won’t know which good behaviors to replicate in the future. A generic, “good job, everybody!” can even demotivate employees because it comes across insincere and uncaring. Be specific with what is being done well!

Recognize Employees’ Results, Make an Emotional Connection

How do employees want to be recognized in the workplace? It varies quite a bit depending on industry, age of employees, seniority, and other factors. Solution? ASK!

We recommend managers simply ask each employee, “How do you like to be recognized?” The answer uncovers:

  • Whether public or private recognition is preferable.
  • For what types of work the employee wants to be recognized. Do they get greater satisfaction from winning new business or training a new employee?
  • When to recognize this person. While we are fans of on-the-spot recognition, it’s helpful to know if that makes someone uncomfortable.
  • Whether the employee prefers individual or team accolades. Some love the spotlight and praise, while others would prefer being a part of team recognition.

Rethinking Employee Engagement and AppreciationDay to Day Employee Celebration Calendar

We all need inspiration to make employee appreciation a daily habit. gThankYou’s annual day-to-day Employee Celebration Calendar gives you the tools and inspiration to build a culture of appreciation every day of the year. Download yours today, absolutely free.

Learn More About gThankYou Certificates of Gratitude:

Top Photo by Afif Ramdhasuma on Unsplash

Learn More About gThankYou!
Gift Certificates

Learn More About gThankYou! Gift Certificates Download Our Free Guide Now!

How gThankYou Certificates Work

Step 1

Order Certificates

Choose the gThankYou Certificates you want and order them online or by telephone.

Step 2

Ship directly to your business

Your order is delivered by UPS. Nearly all orders ship the day received. Overnight shipping is available.

Step 3

Distribute to your employees

Personalize your gThankYou Certificates with Giver name or logo (both optional) and give them to employees.

Step 4

Redeem at any grocery store

Recipients redeem Certificates at major U.S. grocery stores and select the items they want.