Recognizing success: 9 ways to praise your employees

Shouldn’t a group of adults be able to get their work done without needing constant praise? Employee recognition is one of those concepts that may seem easy to deride at first glance. But the right praise may be crucial for retaining great employees and maintaining a positive work environment.

Would you rather work with a group of happy, motivated employees? Or a bunch of sullen workers who have been spoiled by one or two exceptionally bad apples?

Also, this is not just an imaginary exercise; many studies prove the importance of recognizing your employees’ efforts from time to time. As the Houston Chronicle reported, employees who are unmotivated result in poorer performance, lousy customer service, and even decreased revenue for the organization overall.

This dissatisfaction works its way up to management as well. After all, it’s unsettling to captain a ship when your crew is ready for mutiny.

Lastly, your employees need to maintain a positive attitude to make customers feel welcome. Chances are, they’ll have an easier time maintaining that hospitality when they feel adequately respected and rewarded.

Knowing a little about your employee’s personality, interests, and work ethics can go a long way in tailoring your praise for their best efforts. After all, no one ever quit a job for receiving too much recognition and praise.

Here are some things to keep in mind when praising your team because there is no downside to doling out well-earned praise to your workers.

1. Match The Praise To The Effort

Employees who go above and beyond may warrant some extra recognition. As Meghan M. Biro said in Forbes, “Recognition should match effort and results, or it loses meaning.” An employee who manages a difficult customer with tact and grace may warrant a quick, “Hey, good job!” from a manager on duty.

Meanwhile, an employee who is able to recognize operational bottlenecks and implement methods to turn tables faster probably warrants more significant praise (and potentially a promotion). Matching the praise to the scale of effort helps reinforce your employees’ desires to go above and beyond for your organization.

2. Write A Sincere Thank-You Note

This old-school method of praise still makes a great impact. As the CEO of Provendus Group Mike Michalowicz said in the American Express for Small Business site, “Saying thanks about something specific may be the ultimate reward.”

It is an authentic gesture your employee will probably remember for a long time, and it also emphasizes you notice and appreciate their efforts. In the era when you and your team probably communicate by text or chat features most often, receiving a thoughtful hand-written note feels extra-special.

Pro tip: To make your hand written note more impactful, use our message feature to send motivating thoughts to your employees regularly. Homebase users subscribed to our Essentials, Plus, or Enterprise plans have the ability to send a broadcast messages to the entire team.

3. Remember Their Anniversary Date

Keep track of your employees’ work anniversaries and commemorate the event with a friendly card or other memento. As the HR Toolkit for the Community Foundations of Canada explained, recognizing work anniversaries is a good way to keep your employees engaged and appreciated.

You may also encourage higher employee retention by making a celebration out of every yearly anniversary. This is a simple way to show that you appreciate your employee’s efforts year in and year out.

4. Go Public

If your prize employee enjoys the spotlight, then some public praise will probably be well received. According to a piece in Robert Half, recognizing your star employee’s accomplishments during a meeting or on the company’s social media will likely make a good impact on morale.

It also sends the message to the rest of your employees that you notice and appreciate extra efforts. This is one case in which it pays to know your employee’s personalities; some people would love nothing more than to have their praises sung from the rooftops, whereas others would prefer a more low-key method of recognition.

In the Homebase app, Shout Outs make it easy for everyone — managers and employees alike — to recognize one another when they go above and beyond. It’s great option for public recognition that doesn’t require extensive planning.

5. Give Mini-Gifts

Even a small token of your appreciation may go a long way. The Food Service Warehouse recommends giving star employees a gift card or movie passes for their efforts.

If you know your employee’s favorite stores or hobbies, it will make personalization that much easier. It’s a simple way to reinforce good behavior and make sure your employees know their extra efforts are not in vain.

6. Go ‘Behind The Scenes’

If you have employees who do a lot of great work ‘behind the scenes,’ then make time to showcase their good work. After all, chefs, bussers, and dishwashers work just as hard as your waiters, but they don’t have the opportunity to receive much praise from your customers.

The University of Washington human resources department suggests managers establish a “Behind the Scenes” award specifically for these employees whose tasks are more removed from the spotlight. If your chef is able to whip up recipes on the fly to please discerning customers, for instance, then this extra work deserves some appreciation.

7. Be Surprising

Sure, everyone gets accustomed to ‘Employee of the Month’ awards, but an unexpected praise bomb is usually more impactful. It’s like a surprise present for being a great employee. “Birthday presents are nice, but unexpected gifts make an even bigger impact.

Unexpected recognition is always more powerful, too,” said Jeff Haden in Inc. It does not have to be anything big; for example, surprising your team with drinks from the local smoothie shop on a hot day would probably go over very well.

8. Award Special Assignments

Sometimes more responsibility is the best reward for star employees. A piece from the University at Buffalo suggests managers give special assignments to employees who show great initiative. While it may seem strange to reward good workers with more work, chances are they will appreciate your confidence in their abilities.

Giving your best chefs the chance to revise your lunch menu, for instance, will reinforce your appreciation for their knowledge and capabilities. This is also a good way to delegate responsibilities and keep your own workload manageable — your entire team will benefit.

Another easy way to show your appreciation is through preferential employee scheduling. Some employees may value flexibility. Give them the option to trade shifts and update their availabilities with a minimal amount of notice.

Other employees may prefer stability over flexibility — especially if they have a family. For them, publishing their schedules weeks in advance will add a little predictability to their lives and their pay.

9. Be Specific

Thanking your employees for specific tasks is another good habit you should start practicing. “Don’t just say ‘thanks for all you do.’ Explain why you’re appreciative. This allows for employees to revisit their triumph and makes it clear what types of value-driven behavior fuel recognition,” said Eric Mosley, CEO of Globoforce, in the Huffington Post.

It’s the most straightforward way to reward good behavior and make sure your employees know exactly how to direct their efforts. It demonstrates effective communication, a positive approach to management, and simple good manners.

Overall, recognizing your employees’ hard work is not just good for morals: it’ been proven to help your business run more smoothly.If you have ever dealt with a high employee turnover rate, then you know what a headache constantly hiring, onboarding, and training new employees can turn into.

As a Globoforce study found, “Employees are more likely to consider leaving a job for a company that recognizes their employees. In fact, most of them have done just that.”

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