According to Gallup, “The number-one reason people leave their jobs: They don’t feel appreciated.”
Sadly, “65% of Americans received no recognition in the workplace last year.”
Here in the U.S., it is Thanksgiving week. While we tend to think of Thanksgiving on a personal level, and are certainly thankful for our family and friends; there is an important application to business as well.
That important application is the key relationship between employee retention and employee recognition.
Here’s the thing…we all want to do work in life that matters. When we are recognized and thanked for our work, we receive confirmation that what we are doing matters. Show me a person who truly believes his or her work matters to the organization, and I will show you a dedicated employee.
Numerous studies have shown that, when it comes to employee retention, employee recognition outranks almost every other perk: pay raises, game rooms, and other employee amenities. Though pay and amenities play a supporting role, it is nowhere near as critical as the one simple thing we are about to do this week: give thanks.
Employees who are appreciated for their work are committed. They are committed to their superiors to deliver a job well done; and they are committed to their team to work in a way that is worthy of the gratitude they have received.
How can you thank your employees?
Every person has strengths and weaknesses. It is the responsibility of a leader to recognize these in each team member, and to position accordingly. Placing an employee in a position that showcases their talent is the ultimate setup for success. Setting your employees up for success is the ultimate model for employee recognition.
It doesn’t have to be a big gift, but do thank your employees at holiday time. One company, for example, provides a spiral cut ham to each employee for Christmas. For many, this has become a holiday tradition. Many joked they would never leave the company because then they wouldn’t get the ham.
Annual reviews are a good opportunity for recognition of employee efforts. But if that is the only time you provide feedback (good or constructive), you are doing your employees a great disservice. The fact is, your recognition should be continual and immediate. Think about it. If someone does something well, and you recognize it immediately, they will know to do it again. If you wait until the annual review, you have lost opportunity for sparks of growth within your organization. We are quick to correct, and we should be; but we should also be quick to recognize – and acknowledge – excellence.
It is true. There is one word that will almost always get our attention – our name. Be sure to thank your employees by name – in public – when possible and appropriate. It is also highly effective to write a quick note of appreciation to your employees for exemplary effort. This is not about flattery. This is about clearly defining what they did, and the value they bring to the organization. In addition, always use a person’s name when sending them an email. It is highly effective.
Have you, as a leader, ever said, “This is my executive assistant?” Most of us have done that. If you want to keep your executive assistant for the long term, try introducing him or her as, “This is my executive assistant. He/she is the best ____ in the business.” And fill in the blank with a definitive skill at which he or she excels. As leaders, one of our biggest acknowledgements must be that we do not know everything. We must surround ourselves with those who have talents in all the areas we do not…and then recognize each for the talents and skills they have.
Authenticity creates trust. Be real in your recognition. Be specific as well. In the real world, you don’t get a trophy for showing up to work every day. But a paycheck isn’t always enough to keep a good employee, either. As a leader, practice giving intentional and sincere recognition where actions warrant. You might just be amazed at the results.
Here’s the bottom line…
On average, it costs twice the salary of an employee to replace them; and it usually takes a full year before the new employee is fully equipped and trained in a position.
Saying thank you is free.
As a leader, you get to choose. You can sincerely thank your people and create an amazingly profitable, loyal team…or you can pay the price of a high employee turnover rate.