Creating a Recognition Culture

Dear, Anita,

Do you have any new ideas on how our office can celebrate Administrative Professionals Day?Admin_Professional_Day_iStock_000001586762_Small

Dear, No More Flowers,

Administrative Professionals Week® (Wait, what?! There’s a whole week?) is generally celebrated the last full week of April, according to it founder, the International  Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP), with Administrative Professionals Day® celebrated on Wednesday of that week – April  22 this year. The commemoration exists to honor admins’ positive contributions to offices around the world.

11 Things You Didn't Know About Employee RecognitionWhile it’s a great idea to set aside a special time to focus on these individuals and perhaps treat them to free lunch, a better modus operandi is to create a recognition culture in your workplace. It not only helps morale, but it impacts the bottom line. How? Increased productivity/better customer service from engaged workers, and lower costs related to turnover, as the infographic from Officevibe shows.

David Novak, author of Taking People With You: The Only Way to Make Big Things Happen, tells how he realized recognition needed to be a priority. On a routine visit to canvass salespeople about display and merchandising, everyone raved about an employee named Bob and what a great job he did. This brought Bob to tears because in his 47 years with the company, he never got this kind of positive feedback.

Don’t make your subordinates wait that long for an “Atta Boy.”  We human beings crave a sense of significance and one measure is esteem from others. It’s important to feel important!

Kim Harrison of Cutting Edge PR defines employee recognition as “timely, informal or formal acknowledgement of a person’s or team’s behavior, effort or business result that supports the organization’s goals and values.”

Formal recognition includes things like:

  • Milestone awards given at annual conventions
  • Employee of the Month

Informal recognition ideas:

  • “Thank You Thursdays”
  • Traveling trophies
  • On-the-spot award gift cards
  • Celebrating birthdays
  • Day-to-day positive interactions with managers and peers

What do employees want? According to Quantum Workplace’s 2014 Recognition Trends Report, 60 percent said a pay increase was an important form of recognition. (Not surprising, but compensation is really different from recognition.) What I found interesting was that #2 on the list was access to new learning/training opportunities, beating out a spontaneous cash bonus or time off. For the third year on the row, a personalized gift like a plaque ranked last. In the spirit of fun, Novak, now CEO of Yum Brands Inc., has given out hundreds of unconventional Rubber Chicken Awards to his KFC employees. The award has morphed into a set of plastic teeth with legs denoting they “walk the talk.” I don’t know about you, but I’d rather get one of these goofy awards than another Lucite dust collector.

Points recognition programs (similar to frequent flyer miles or brand loyalty awards) allow employees to accumulate points for achieving benchmarks (or peers can even grant points for a job well done). The points may be accumulated and redeemed for rewards from a gift catalog. Choose a program carefully, as some catalogs offer off-brand, cheap goods; is that any way to express appreciation to an employee?

Honestly, sometimes the simplest things done regularly can have an amazing effect. A personal thank you note or email after a job well done can do wonders for employee satisfaction.

Need more ammunition to convince higher-ups to create a recognition culture? Blackhawk Engagement Solutions put together 23 Employment Motivation Statistics to Silence Naysayers.

Readers: How does your company appreciate white and pink collar workers on Administrative Professionals Day – or all year long?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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Keeping Employees Happy

Dear, Anita,

I have a hunch that one of my direct reports may be looking for another job. I’d really hate to lose her, as she is so dependable and, after being with us for four years, really knows the ins and outs of the business. We did give her a 3% raise about 5 months ago, so it’s too early to give her another pay bump. What else can our company do to keep her happy here?

Dear, Sweating Bullets,

There are numerous studies on the reasons that people leave their jobs. I won’t make you feel terrible by quoting “The Savage Truth” blog: “It’s not the company they are leaving. It’s you.” Whoopsie.

Most managers assume it’s about the money. PricewaterhouseCoopers found that compensation was actually number 3 on the list, with limited career/promotion opportunities and lack of respect/support from supervisors as number 1 and 2, respectively.  A survey by Staffing Industry Analysts found the top three reasons employees left a staffing job were bad management, bad environment, and a lack of opportunity. Entrepreneur cites advancement, work/life balance, and money as the top 3 reasons people leave jobs.

So what can you do to manage your team in a positive environment where workers feel valued and have room for professional growth?

It may be helpful to look at businesses people are dying to work for — such as Google, named a “Best Place To Work” by Fortune and Glassdoor’s 2015 Employees’ Choice Awards. Not every company can offer on-site haircuts and dry-cleaning, subsidized massages, and rec rooms equipped with foosball and video games, but there are feasible things you can do. When Google changed its maternity leave from a 12-week plan to 5 months taken at the new mom’s discretion, the attrition rate for new mothers reduced by 50%. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the cost to replace and hire new staff is estimated to be 60 percent of an employee’s annual salary. That may be reason enough to keep your current employees satisfied.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) suggests employee incentive programs such as flex time, workplace wellness programs, project completion perks, and corporate memberships.

You didn’t mention your employee’s age, but Generation X may want different perks and purpose than their predecessors. According to researchers Charlotte and Laura Shelton, 51% of Gen Xers said they’d quit if another employer offered them the chance to telecommute and 61% of Gen X women would leave their current jobs if they were offered more flexible hours elsewhere. The top 3 things Gen X want in a job: positive relationships with colleagues, interesting work, and opportunities for learning.

You’ll have to probe to determine what the silver bullet is for this particular staffer and see if your company is willing to make changes not just for her, but to increase employee retention in the future.

Readers: If you were considering leaving your job, what could your employer offer that would make a difference?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

Subscribe to receive weekly emails with career tips and advice for job seekers, employed people, and managers and supervisors.

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Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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