While bonuses and other expensive
perks have been traditional ways
to motivate staff, a new survey shows that a simple “thank you” is the
most appreciated nontangible reward
among employees. According to the survey, 35 percent of workers and 30 percent
of chief financial officers (CFOs) cite frequent recognition of accomplishments as
the most effective nonmonetary reward.
Regular communication was the second-most-common response, given by 20 percent of employees and 36 percent of CFOs.
The survey was developed by Accountemps, the world’s first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary
accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals.

“Very often, managers think that it takes a
lot of money or expensive perks to motivate employees,” says Chuck Cave, vice
president for Accountemps in Cleveland.
“However, we have found the two greatest
motivators have nothing to do with money:
recognition and communication.”

Smart Business spoke with Cave about
the importance of recognition and how employers can create a culture of open communication and appreciation of employees.

Other than a simple thank you, are there
other ways managers can thank their staff?

A thank you always works well; so does a
handwritten note or an e-mail. That said,
however, while recognizing the accomplishments of an employee on a one-onone basis is important, it is also imperative
that people get recognized in front of their
peer group as well. One way to do this is
during a staff meeting, or an e-mail that
copies the peer group and top executives
in the company. This has the added benefit
of motivating others in the company to
excel, particularly if they like public recognition for their efforts.

What should employees do if they feel they
are not getting enough praise or communication?

Employees are often reluctant to be open
about what they need. However, during any one-on-one meetings with the manager, when he or she says: ‘Is there anything
you need from me?’ — that is the opportunity to bring up the need for more recognition. The employee needs to be prepared
to give examples of good work that have
gone unrecognized. Clearly, this is a topic
that employees don’t often feel comfortable addressing. However, employees
need to realize that there are times when
managers are caught up in the fast pace of
work life and will neglect to recognize
accomplishments among staff. Good managers, however, know the importance of

What are some ways that managers can
increase the level of communication and
appreciation with their staff?

Money may not always be there in a company to shower employees with bonuses,
lunches, networking events and other
perks. However, nonmonetary tools that
are always available are good communication and recognition. As our survey pointed
out, these tools are probably the most effective in helping keep employees motivated
and happy, which is the key to retention.

Recognition and communication go
hand-in-hand. Many times, employees want more communication — because it’s
during these talks with the manager that
recognition often happens.

One way managers can gain a higher level
of communication with their employees is
by blocking off time to meet with them
throughout the week. Not every manager
can meet with every single employee every
week (and if there is a staff of 60 people, it
is next to impossible to do this). However,
if a manager has the typical six to eight
people who are reporting to him or her,
then time-blocking can be effective. For
example, once a week the manager can
meet on a rotating basis for an hour with
one employee. After six to eight weeks, the
manager would have met with everyone on

The number one reason cited that
employees decide to leave a company is
because of their relationship with their
superior. Communication and recognition
can go a long way in creating a work environment where an employee wants to stay.
And — as the labor market continues to get
tighter and tighter — anything a manager
can do to create a healthy work environment and culture helps with retention.

What other ways can managers better
express their appreciation for their employees?

One powerful way is through a mentoring
program. It sends a strong message to the
mentor that his or her experience is valued
enough to formally pass it on to the next
generation of workers, and it expresses to
the employee that he or she plays an
important enough role in the company to
provide a mentor.

Another way is to pull a department
together to brainstorm ideas. This sends
the message that what employees think is
important. It also has the added benefit of
encouraging dialogue and helping to set a
common goal for everyone to reach. Again,
this sets up a positive environment for
recognition all around when the goal is

CHUCK CAVE is the vice president for Accountemps in the
Cleveland area. Reach him at [email protected] or (216) 621-4253.