Recognition Drives Retention & Performance

The U.S. Department of Labor has reported that the number-one reason people leave their jobs has nothing to do with the work itself, the hours, the pay, or the benefits—it’s feeling unappreciated that ultimately pushes them out the door.

Leaders who appropriately recognize employees increase retention and drive superior performance.

When employees feel that their individual efforts are both valued and noticed, they stay encouraged and productive.

It’s easiest for managers to notice and appreciate the contributions of their star performers, but there are many opportunities to recognize the majority of workers on your team, and their contributions should not go unrecognized.

Every team member has strengths and skills that they bring with them into the workplace.

Team recognition and praisePraise and recognition are more meaningful when they focus on specific behaviors, and it’s a good management practice to watch attentively and acknowledge the unique contributions that each person on the team makes and that help to drive results for the business.

People appreciate hearing “thank you” or being given a “thumbs up” for exceptional attendance, helping a team member, or going above and beyond for a customer.

Likewise, be sure to notice when employees make improvements in their accuracy or productivity. Special occasions like completing training, earning certifications, offering superior performance on a project, or reaching length-of-service anniversaries should also never be overlooked.

When thinking about how to give recognition to your employees, it’s important to remember that every team member is unique.

Really getting to know your employees will help you select the forms of recognition that are most personally meaningful to them.

For example, some employees prefer to be recognized publicly in front of the team, higher leadership, or other departments, while others prefer to be approached in private and with minimal fanfare.

The most effective recognition is tailored to the preferences of the recipient, not the giver, and is only given when it’s actually earned. It must be specific to a behavior or action that had a direct, positive impact on the organization.

Keep your eyes open every day for opportunities to outwardly appreciate your employees. When you see a unique contribution, be prepared to show your appreciation in the moment.

Giving sincere, timely praise helps reinforce desirable behaviors and makes it more likely that they will be repeated in the future.

There are many ways to show appreciation. Some companies stock up on items such as mugs, hats, and t-shirts displaying the company logo (company “swag”) so items are on hand to use as needed.

Many times, a handwritten thank-you note, electronic card sent through e-mail, or a simple phone call will be enough to show that you noticed the accomplishment.

More-elaborate forms of recognition, such as a team lunch, surprise celebration, gift card, new assignment, training opportunity, monetary bonus, or day off can be used for significant contributions from employees.

The important thing to remember is to mix it up, and don’t repeat the reward so often that it becomes an expectation when goals are met.

By the same token, be careful not to let long periods of time go by without actively recognizing behaviors that are deserving of praise.

With a watchful eye and a little insight into your employees’ preferences, you can engage your team in achieving superior outcomes.

For more information on how to tailor recognition to your employees, contact CMOE.

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About the Author


CMOE’s Design Team is comprised of individuals with diverse and complementary strengths, talents, education, and experience who have come together to bring a unique service to CMOE’s clients. Our team has a rich depth of knowledge, holding advanced degrees in areas such as business management, psychology, communication, human resource management, organizational development, and sociology.