Winning employees over Featured

8:00pm EDT March 26, 2007
While hosting team-building events and giving increased responsibility are common ways to motivate staff, a new survey reveals that a simple thank you will also win over employees. Thirty-five percent of workers and 30 percent of chief financial officers (CFOs) cited 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 surveys were developed by Accountemps, the world’s first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals.

“It is important that employees know that their input is valued,” says Jason Skidmore, vice president for Accountemps in Columbus.

Smart Business spoke with Skidmore about the importance of recognition and what employers can do to ensure that employees know that their work is being appreciated.

Why was the simple thank you ranked high among the nontangible incentives?

It’s human nature to want appreciation and recognition. While salary is important, the satisfaction of knowing that you are doing a job well — and having it recognized — is also valuable. We always think of the tangible rewards we can throw at people, but a thank you — which is so basic and simple — goes a long way.

How much recognition is appropriate?

It’s a balancing act, because recognition given every day or even every week will quickly lose its luster. But recognition that is well-deserved and is given periodically, either privately or at company functions or team meetings (once a month or once a quarter), can be a powerful motivator.

What should managers do to recognize the accomplishments of their staff?

Yes, because recognition also works to motivate the manager. However, I would suggest that the employee coordinate the recognition with other members of the team. Otherwise, the praise might be misconstrued as trying to gain favor with the manager.

How can managers increase the level of communication and recognition with their staff?

First, managers need to create a culture that looks for the good in people and recognizes publicly and privately work well done. This kind of culture also encourages team members to recognize and motivate each other. After all, recognition does not have to come just from the manager or the organization.

Goal-setting is very important to creating this kind of culture. When each member of the team knows the parameters of a project and its goals, it is easier to see when people have done a good job to meet those goals.

Mentorships also help recognize excellence. When a manager asks a veteran worker to mentor a less experienced worker, it sends the message that the mentor’s contribution is important to the organization … that the mentor has been hand-selected to bring up the next generation of workers. It sends a positive message to the person being mentored as well: that the organization thinks enough of this person to provide guidance.

The important thing to remember when trying to increase recognition is that managers need to create a culture in which communication is valued, and there is a systematic approach in place to recognize good work.

Recognition does need to be public, but it also needs to be private as well. The occasional recognition behind closed doors during a meeting can make a big difference. A simple thank you during a one-onone meeting is important, but also an e-mail or a thank-you card goes a long way. Public recognition can be in the form of an announcement at a meeting, in the company’s blog, intranet or newsletter.

What should employees who feel that they do not receive sufficient recognition do?

The most appropriate thing is to reach out to their immediate supervisor to request time to discuss their work. Sometimes employees are not getting recognition because there is a good reason, such as below-standard work (and that employee needs to hear constructive criticism as well).

But if an employee knows that a job has been well done and nothing has been said, he or she needs to ask for feedback. That kind of communication with a manager is very appropriate.

Should an employee ever recognize his or her manager?

JASON SKIDMORE is the vice president of Accountemps in Columbus. Reach him at Jason.skidmore@rhi.com or (614) 221-9300.