Recognition is the key to Employee Wellbeing and Productivity

Photograph of Jenefer Livings, Founder of Silk Helix Ltd
10 October 2022
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Research shows that when it comes to employee wellbeing and supporting mental health, how we treat people on a day to day basis is far more important than benefits like gym memberships, walking meetings and free fruit.

Why is Employee Recognition Important?

Research conducted by virtual events and in-person team building company Wildgoose found that 3 out of 4 employees feel they deserve more recognition than they receive and those not receiving the recognition they feel they deserve are twice as likely to experience impacts on their mental health including stress and burnout.

And, it’s not only employee’s mental health that is impacted, those feeling they are not getting the recognition they deserve are 83% more likely to lose productivity. It’s likely this is linked to the trend we’re seeing talked about as quiet quitting. In addition to reduced productivity, absence rates will be higher as stress and burnout impacts both mental and physical health.

Less recognised employees are 131% more likely to lose faith in the management team and company’s core values - this means that all the hard work you’re putting in to build your brand is being lost. It’s much harder to motivate people when they don’t have faith in the leadership or believe in the direction of the business.

People staying, taking the wages and not being productive isn’t good for business, neither is people leaving, according to Wildgoose ⅓ have either left or are looking for alternative employment.

When people are getting the recognition they believe they deserve they feel valued and respected. As a result they feel part of the organisation, trust in management and the direction of the business. They are productive, have less absence and are less likely to leave.

How Can a Small Business Recognise Employees Without a Huge Budget?

The good news is that recognition doesn’t require spending on initiatives, it’s about doing the everyday management well. Even without a big budget, you can make huge impacts on the wellbeing of your team and reap the reward of increased productivity.

Regular 1 to 1 meetings

Regular and dedicated one to one meetings are one of the best ways to ensure individuals receive recognition and feedback.

The purpose of one to one meetings is in two parts, one is to review performance, provide support and feedback and the other (often forgotten) is for the individual to know they are valued. When we dedicate time to individuals it tells them they are important and valued. It also gives them dedicated time where they can raise issues or discuss things that may be impacting their work. These meetings therefore have the benefit of supporting performance and employee wellbeing.

Regular Feedback

Feedback isn’t just about highlighting areas for improvement, it’s also about praise and recognition. Both types of feedback are crucial to keeping people motivated and ensuring they are performing in the way the business needs.

Put simply, people need to know they are making a valued contribution.

Personal Shoutouts

Personal shoutouts, whether in a team meeting meeting, using software or any other mechanism are a great way to show recognition. These should be regular and unlimited, e.g. allowing the team to shout out each other in regular meetings. Unlimited avoids people competing for recognition and ensures there is enough to recognise the value in the whole team.

If anyone isn’t making a valued contribution this needs to be resolved by management, everyone else should be feeling valued!

Tailor to the Individual

We’re all different in how we receive recognition and what we’re looking for in our careers. Listen, understand and tailor your management style and rewards to the individuals in your team. Some people are looking for career development opportunities, others salary increases, handwritten notes will be valued by some whilst others want public recognition, to name just a few examples. In reality most people want a combination rather than having a single preference, tailoring is crucial to people actually hearing the recognition.

Remember, people want to feel recognised, this is about how they receive it not an objective assessment of what their Manager gives.

Training for your Managers

The return on investment of recognition is huge, it keeps people motivated, productive, attending work and stops them leaving. Recognition needs to be provided on a daily basis by line Managers, this means investing in training for your managers. Training will ensure Managers are equipped and confident to provide good value one to ones, quality feedback and direction to their teams.

In my experience, confidence and not knowing what you can and can’t say is the biggest thing holding back Managers from having really good quality conversations with their team. In our Managing Performance Digital and In-Person courses we give Managers the tools to provide motivating recognition and tackle underperformance.

Team Events and Socials

Only when you’ve got all this right would I recommend investing in events, initiatives and benefits. There is no doubt these things do show recognition, are a great reward and support in building culture, but not alone. Only once you’ve got the day to day management right will people value the additions like events and socials.

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