There’s no strict formula for building a positive workplace culture. Depending on your industry, team size, and the type of work you do, good culture at work will look different.
There are some elements of workplace culture, though, that should be present no matter where you work or what you do. Things like opportunities for growth and development, inclusion, trustworthy management, and flexibility. One that often gets overlooked is recognition.
Think back to the last time you were for something great you did at work. How did it make you feel? And how did it affect your motivation and engagement at work? Now, imagine an entire workplace full of people who feel that way.
It’s not as simple as saying a quick thanks to your team every so often. To create a true culture of recognition where acknowledgement comes naturally, you’ll need to put in place some things across your organisation.
Before jumping into some of these, let’s first cover employee recognition.
What Is employee recognition, and why is it so important?
Employee recognition is more than a thank you and a pat on the back. It’s a formal acknowledgment of an employee’s hard work and achievements. Think of it as a way of saying ‘Hey, we see you, we appreciate you, and we’re grateful for what you bring to the table.’
It takes many forms — like verbal or written praise, employee awards, bonuses and promotions, and acknowledgment during company-wide meetings — but it has to always relate to your organisation’s purpose and values. There’s no point giving praise for work that doesn’t align with your organisation.
When done right, employee recognition results in increased retention and decreased absenteeism. According to a study conducted by O.C. Tanner, affirmation, feedback, and reward are most effective for motivating people to do their best work. It can also bring about a 25% higher profitability for companies that use recognition as a way to create a great workplace experience.
How to create a culture of recognition at your workplace
Make saying thank you easy with recognition platforms
Recognition platforms like Kudos, Lattice, and Nectar make it easy to give and receive thanks. They all integrate with communication softwares like Slack and Microsoft Teams, and are customisable to suit your organisation.
Some let you send both peer-to-peer messages and public messages that all employees see, and can help celebrate things like milestones and important events. Most of these platforms are priced on a per-user basis, making them an affordable option no matter how big or small your team is.
Tailor your recognition to people
We’ve all got our own communication styles, which means the type of recognition we appreciate varies.
Some people might not appreciate the attention of being recognised in front of other employees, and that’s okay. Others might prefer recognition as professional development opportunities or getting treated to lunch. Communication is key, and it can be as simple as asking people what they want.
Provide clear and realistic expectations
You don’t want your team to feel like they’re working hard without knowing what they’re working towards. Make sure everyone understands the mission and values of your organisation, and they have a clear idea of what they’re expected of in their role.
Regularly communicate achievable KPIs they should be working towards, and educate them on how their work contributes to the wider business.
Acknowledge the little things, too
It’s easy to recognise the big achievements – things like winning a client, exceeding a budget, or solving a significant problem. But often it’s the little things – like having a positive attitude, being empathetic, and stepping in to help out another team – that add up to make a big difference, and can sometimes go unnoticed.
Instead of only acknowledging achievements that affect the entire company, try acknowledging the small things that are just as important, but might only be felt in a smaller team.
Make sure employee recognition is embraced at all levels
Managers and leaders need to lead by example and make recognition a priority. Doing this will encourage your employees to recognise each other, creating a culture of recognition that’s peer-to-peer as well as top-down.