Do Your Employees Feel Valued?
Illustration: Phil Couzens

Do Your Employees Feel Valued?

Showing talented employees how much their contributions are appreciated should always be at the top of managers’ to-do lists

By Tim Hird

Recognizing employees for first-rate work isn’t just a nice gesture: It boosts morale, increases productivity, and helps retain top performers. But singling out staff who make a difference often becomes an “I’ll-get-around-to-it-later” task for busy managers. Many wait too long for kudos to have the desired impact, fail to match praise with the achievement, or forget to say thank you altogether.

If you’ve been faltering lately in giving hardworking team members rewards for exceptional effort, take action now. You don’t want to risk losing your best employees to the competition because they don’t feel valued. Here are three ways to let talented professionals know you appreciate their contributions:

1.Give timely praise – and encourage others to do so, too.
Be quick to acknowledge employees’ accomplishments. Often, a verbal thank-you or handwritten note directly from you can go a long way toward making a team member feel valued. However, accolades shouldn’t come just from the top. Praise from colleagues is often as meaningful as a nod from a manager, so be sure to foster a culture that encourages peers to commend each other openly for a job well done.

How you offer kudos depends on the situation. Some ideas: Praising an individual or an entire project team during a staff meeting, spotlighting their achievements in an article on the firm’s intranet or in its newsletter, or rewarding them with a paid day off or a special outing such as lunch or a movie.

2.Reward your top people.
Elevating high-performing employees to the next level has always been a practical way to reward top talent. But in the current economy, upward opportunities may be scarce for firms who have had to reduce staff and are still operating with smaller budgets.

If you’re unable to promote deserving employees right now, invest in their continued growth through relevant training. Also keep staff feeling engaged by expanding their scope of responsibility or assigning challenging projects. Be sure to first discuss these opportunities with them and find out if there are other developmental areas they might prefer.

3.Don’t go overboard: Make praise meaningful.
While there’s no substitute for thanking employees for their hard work and accomplishments on a regular basis, be careful not to take it too far. Avoid praising team members for simply carrying out their basic job requirements and reserve accolades for truly standout performance. When possible, tie recognition to achievement of specific business results.

A culture that recognizes and rewards high performance is a key aspect of the most successful companies. Your most valued staff members need to know they make a difference and that the firm performs better because they are part of the team.

(Tim Hird is Managing Director of specialized recruiting company Robert Half International Singapore and Japan)

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