Employee Recognition – An Opportunity for an Engaged Workforce

Numerous studies have shown that recognition for a job done well is the top motivator for employee performance.  A recent Council of Communication Management survey indicates “33% of managers themselves report that they would rather work an organization where they could receive better recognition” (Bob Nelson from 1001 Ways to Reward Employees).

While Money is important to employees it typically does not drive employee behavior to perform at a higher level.  With that being said there are numerous ways to motivate your workforce.

There are 3 critical components to consider when evaluating employee engagement:

  1. Match the reward to the individual (find out what the employee values)
  2. Match the reward to the achievement (for example; was the project length 2 weeks or 2 years?)
  3. Be timely and specific (waiting too long diminishes the value of the recognition)

Recognition can be grouped into different categories such as Informal Rewards, Rewards for Specific Achievements and Activities and Formal Rewards.

Informal Rewards can be little or no cost.  They include and are not limited to communication such as recognizing anniversaries in the company newsletter, proving time off and providing company apparel.  At Consolidated Construction Company’s annual company meeting in Appleton, WI, “U Rock” traveling trophies have been presented to recognize above and beyond performance by specific individuals or crews.  All employees have a voice in recognizing their peers and this type of recognition can be quite powerful when executed thoughtfully.

Awards for Specific Achievements and Activities can also play a vital role when looking at Employee Recognition.  Some examples of Achievement Awards are, recognizing Sales Goals, Safety, and focusing on Productivity/Production.  Due to an emphasis on Safety in the Construction Industry many Contractors do provide incentive and recognition to their field employees for contributing to an overall safe working environment.  Some Contractors will provide recognition or incentive to Field crews for beating or exceeding the labor hours on a job.

Last but not least, Employee recognition can include Formal Rewards.  For example, Contests, Field Trips, and Educational Opportunities can all be classified as a Formal Rewards. At Consolidated Construction Co., Inc. office employees who work on a project seldom see the finished project.  When the project distance is within reason, jobsite tours are held, lunch is at times provided and employees are recognized for their role in the overall project.  Another example of a formal reward is providing a Career Path Ladder that provides employees an opportunity a clear direction of how they can advance within the company and what opportunities are provided with the advancement.

Positive Reinforcement is a fundamental concept of Employee Recognition.  Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson the authors of the book, The One Minute Manager provide 5 components to One-Minute Praising:

  • Tell People up front that you are going to let them know how they are doing
  • Praise People immediately
  • Tell people what they did right – be specific
  • Tell people how good you feel about what they did right and how it helps the organization and the other people who work there
  • Encourage them to do more of the same

Recognition can be as simple as a hand written Thank You, or a batch of homemade cookies.  At the end of the day, “Recognition is so easy to do and so inexpensive to distribute that there is simply no excuse for not doing it” (Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Management Consultant).

Written By Tiffany La Pointe, PHR, HR Manager – Consolidated Construction Co. Inc., Appleton, WI

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