Communicating employee appreciation

Capable and engaged employees are a core factor for the success of any organization. Current neurobiological research results show: By conveying appreciation, managers make a significant contribution to the retention, motivation, performance and even the health of their employees. For corporate communication professionals and HR teams this rises the question: how can managers and team leaders convey this appreciation to their employees and colleagues in their everyday work? Inspired by a discussion with our client SumTotal Systems and a video session with HR expert Lucy Adams we have summarized five tips.

#1 Frequency

According to studies*, employees who receive regular feedback and recognition are around eight times more engaged than if they were receive it e.g. during an annual assessment meeting. It is therefore worthwhile to consciously plan space for appreciative words and gestures.

#2 Customiz recognition

Not every type of recognition suits every employee. What is extremely motivating for one colleague may completely miss the mark with another. But how can you personalize the expression of appreciation? In practice, this means finding out what a person really values. Use a feedback discussion or team conversation to ask what was the best form of recognition is that the team members have ever received – a bonus, praise in front of colleagues or management, a gift, a personal reference, etc.

#3 Fun Factor

Use your imagination. It doesn’t always have to be a classical format of appreciation that can convey recognition. Design a virtual trophy that will be presented in the team video meeting, give a particularly committed team member a spontaneous day of vacation after a stressful project. You can also think of a personal gift, such as a cooking class or surprise dinner (depending on the personal interests of the employee).

#4 Spontaneity instead of routine

Employee appreciation should not be perceived as routine for quarterly or annual reviews. Implement the recognition when the colleague in question has just given it a particularly high level of commitment, or when it feels right.

The effect of a personal message should not be underestimated either. Douglas Conant, former CEO of Campbell‘s Soup, wrote more than 30,000 handwritten “Thank you” messages to his employees in the ten years he led the company. He reserved almost an hour every working day for this.

#5 Career advancement

Investing into the further development of employees is also a good option to express recognition. For example, supply tickets for a sought-after (virtual) event. Release a colleague who is particularly committed from certain duties so that she can work on a project in which she shows particular interest, and which opens-up new perspectives for her. Most colleagues are also happy about a positive recognition on social media platforms. Active career advancement is also a major contribution to employee loyalty. Study results by the Corporate Leadership Council show: the likelihood that motivated and engaged employees will leave a company is 87 percent lower. Another positive effect: if you publicly share your appreciation for committed colleagues, your customers will also see what kind of great employees your company has. Potential talent will also see how your company treats employees which will support HR PR.

“Unfortunately, there are still many managers who fear public praise will attract headhunters and might lead to losing employees,” explains Doris Pearce-Niederwieser from SumTotal Systems. “But let’s not kid ourselves: today employees are active and visible on social platforms anyway. So it makes more sense to show them appreciation and to invest into their careers internally, which strengthens the bond with the company and thus counteracts the risk of them being enticed away. ”

About the experts:

Lucy Adams, founder of Disruptive HR, has many years of experience in HR management positions, most recently at the BBC.

Doris Pearce-Niederwieser is Customer Sales Director DACH at SumTotal Systems. Born in Austria, she has a master’s degree in organizational psychology and more than 15 years of experience in the market for solutions to support HR and HCM as well as corporate learning.

* https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/de/Documents/finance-transformation/Deloitte_CFO_Insights_June_2018_Rethinking_rewards.pdf