How keeping a bootstrapped team led to our company’s profitability, and what our Chief Appreciation Officer, Gary Willmott, is up to next.
In our recent research into happiness at work, employees who worked in environments with more frequent recognition gave their company culture the highest ratings. Why is that?
We believe there are 5 reasons why recognition leads to an awesome company culture:
81% of employees say they would be motivated to work harder if their efforts were appreciated by their boss/manager, compared to other negative motivators like a demanding boss or the fear of losing your job.
What we’ve seen most often, is that either the managers don’t have the tools/infrastructure to facilitate recognition at work, or they simply don’t believe recognition is that important. Recognition is seen as a luxury instead of a necessity.
Change #1: Prioritise recognition as an intrinsic part of your company culture and processes. Make time & create an environment for people to appreciate each other.
Employees feel more connected to their workplace when the company puts their passion, well-being, & success above its own goals. This turns the traditional setup on its head, where the top management (or maybe the HR manager) chooses values and try to force these upon the employees in an attempt at unifying the company and creating an emotional connection. The employee is left feeling like a confused lab mouse in a labyrinth, trying to figure out which behaviours will get him the cheese. This doesn’t work.
Putting employees’ passion, well-being, & success above the company’s goals means creating the values with them; effectively creating an emotional connection with the company and setting the employees up for success, because they understand which behaviours are desirable. And when they get it right, it’s up to management to recognise their good work.
Change #2: Get employees involved in creating the building blocks of your company: values & behaviours. Recognise good work to perpetuate these and build the company culture you want.
What is employee engagement? This is actually a tricky question that has been answered in so many ways — see below some definitions:
So, basically, employee engagement is a combination of attributes that leads to employees who are not only committed & consistent, but are also driven to deliver above and beyond what is expected of them. This looks different in each organisation, so you need to first figure out what engagement means for your company and industry before communicating this to employees.
Employee recognition will then help you celebrate wins when people live up to/go beyond these standards, and will also serve as further incentive for others to do the same.
Change #3: Once you’ve clearly defined what employee engagement looks like in your organisation, it can be measured — use a people data tool like Hi5 to measure engagement and keep a finger on your company’s pulse.
Along with the above-mentioned benefits (or side-effects) of recognition at work, when people feel “appropriate” and appreciated in the workplace they will want to stay at the company.
This is music to the ears of every prudent and half-nice employer who doesn’t wish to waste money on training new employees, nor wants their current employees to be discontent with their jobs.
Change #4: Make sure that when you give recognition it clearly states what was done, how it made you feel & what impact it had on the company. We call this “Recognition 101" and it’s a fool-proof way to ensure people feel valued & wanted in your organisation.
And finally, recognition leads to happier employees. It seems really basic to factor in a finicky feeling such as ‘happiness’, but because we are all human and wish to fill our days with meaning and good memories, this is an ingredient that cannot be left out if you want to create a good company culture.
According to our research, the 3 most important factors to happiness at work are: Doing meaningful work (20%), professional growth (18%) & the culture of the organisation (15%). This compared to other factors such as co-worker and manager relationships, remuneration, location & customers.
It seems pretty clear that the key to happiness at work lies in the fact that people want to know that they are making a positive contribution, and they will continue to do so as long as they feel they are growing and making an impact.
Change #5: There are lots of ideas out there on how to make your employees happy, but it boils down to continuously communicating their value to them. We suggest you take a look at The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace as a guide!