Recognizing excellence…or, Wednesday.

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More than three-quarters of employees who responded to a recent World of Work study published by Randstad, an Atlanta-based employment services firm, said feeling valued was the most important factor for happiness at work. And that was out of more than a dozen options!

If you’re an employee, do you feel like you’re filling a key role? Or a chair?

If you’re in HR, does employee acknowledgment come only in the form of raises and reviews? Or do you have a formal, well-communicated recognition program in place?

People crave appreciation. Whether it’s a few extra seconds that a manager looks someone in the eye and says, “Hey, that was a really great job. Thanks for being someone I can always rely on…” or a gift given for achieving results or adhering to the organization’s mission, showing people that they’re valued goes a long way.

A 2012 SHRM/Globoforce survey revealed the growing impact of recognition programs on performance management — showing that more than half of companies with recognition programs also observe higher levels of employee engagement, retention, and productivity.

What’s not to love, right?!

Well, be prepared to do some work getting the program rolling.

From determining the types and levels of recognition, deciding when awards happen (all the time? once a quarter? once a year?), who does the awarding (CEO? HR? management?) and finding budget dollars and space on your Careers webpage for compelling and understandable program information, you’ll soon recognize (haha) that showing your love means investing time, energy and money. And if the program is your idea — something new that you’re looking to start — there’s also the job of convincing organizational leaders that employee recognition is about more than a smile and a hello near the water cooler.

Best Practices for employee recognition include making it:

  • timely
  • specific
  • sincere
  • individual
  • personal
  • proportional

But in most cases, as this video proves, interpretative dance probably isn’t going to cut it.

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Though Alstin Communications is about as far from a corporate environment as you can get, the agency has always made saying thanks part of our culture. There’s the much-loved (and in some cases, when you’re trying to resist chocolate — DREADED) candy jar, Bagel Fridays (just because it was Friday) and my favorite: monthly employee chair massages. Though some niceties go by the wayside when the economy does, it’s often little things that matter the most. One day, when some members of our team were looking to get together for a blow-off-some-steam happy hour, the president of the agency got wind of the email planning and gave us his credit card to use at our discretion. More recently, an AE heard about Sundae Wednesdays — an employee favorite from the mid-90′s — asked about it, and it’s being brought back.

Just like neon, good things are meant to return.

But by far, the best recognition at Alstin costs absolutely nothing and comes from direct supervisors. I can’t count the number of times I’ve gotten an extra email from our VP of Operations and our VP of Creative Services saying, “Hey, thanks. I really appreciate you turning that around so quickly.” In terms of really making my day, my favorite — besides chocolate — is when an AE or a manager coming back from a creative presentation passes along client kudos about our work.

So the next time people you work with do something that makes you want to give a fist-bump, be sure to bump the love right back. Just please…no dancing.

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About Christy Parker

Christy Parker, Alstin's Creative Manager, has barraged us with brainstorms for more than 15 years. A multitasking copywriter who teaches head-first slides to her daughter's t-ball team, Christy believes equal parts ignorance and confidence - and regular shopping sprees - are all you need to succeed.