Employee recognition rules!

Employee recognition rulebookCan you imagine working for an employer where your work isn’t appreciated? Where your effort and contribution goes unnoticed?

Think about it and be honest, would you stay working for this employer or would you make plans to change organisations?

Employee recognition schemes are essential to business success, but be sure that you follow the 5 golden rules listed below.

NHS recognition in crisis

The NHS suffers from a lack of formal recognition and appreciation. According to The Voucher Shop 2013 NHS Employee Survey 70% of staff feel unappreciated or given not enough praise for their work.

The survey was completed by 2,185 NHS employees across the United Kingdom. Respondents were based in over 250 NHS Trusts and included employees at all levels within the NHS – including cleaning and administrative staff to midwives, nurses and doctors.

The survey also found that 27% of NHS staff are actively looking to change jobs within the year and a further 32% are considering moving.

But employee recognition isn’t just about staff retention. A survey by work.com said that 69% of employees say they would work harder if management better recognised their work.

We all know how hard all employees within the NHS work, not just the frontline staff. So it’s important for NHS Trusts to make sure that their employees feel appreciated. Employee recognition is one of the most powerful tools that Trust Managers and HR professionals have in their toolkit to encourage a positive, productive and caring environment.

Guidelines for recognising employees

Whether you work for the public or private sector all organisations need to ensure that they don’t fall into a similar trap. So here are a few guideline rules to get you started…


1) Say ‘thank you’ often

Thank you is a phrase that isn’t used often enough. It’s a simple phrase that validates an employee’s effort, motivates, boosts morale and improves relationships. Always be on the lookout for opportunities to thank your employees for their effort and contribution.


2) Reward everyone

Everyone in the scheme should have an equal and achievable chance to be recognised, and everyone who achieves designated criteria should be rewarded. Avoid competitions when it comes to employee recognition schemes as these create one winner and lots of losers who will be demoralised to discover their hard work didn’t pay off. Publicise every achievement and acknowledge the achiever in front of their peers. This will reinforce the behaviour with their colleagues and raise the performance of the whole team.


3) Be specific

When it comes to setting recognition criteria you need to be transparent and specific. Criteria such as for ‘providing a caring environment’ are just too woolly. Take the time to spec out exactly what you mean by a ‘caring environment’ or other behavioural criteria. By doing so you’ll avoid complaints of favouritism and demoralising your staff. Don’t forget to publicise the criteria so that everyone knows what it takes to be recognised.


4) Talk the talk and walk the walk

Recognition needs to be linked to the values of an organisation but as well as talking the talk you also need to walk the walk. All too often I’ve seen values that say ‘teamwork’ but the recognition scheme encourages competition or the team focus is to resolve problems but individuals are rewarded for covering up complaints. Make sure you properly review your criteria to make sure you’re recognising the achievements and behaviours that relate to your values.


5) And finally…

Employees don’t need expensive or fancy gifts to feel recognised. A handwritten, heartfelt thank you note or plaque can be more rewarding than a gift they don’t want. Or perhaps you can reward your staff with less supervision or more responsibility.


However you decide to recognise your staff, make sure that you do it publicly and that all your employees know they have the opportunity to be recognised.


See how other organisations run their recognition schemes

Recognition Video Case Studies

Aviva, Virgin Media and Siemens recognition videos 



John Sylvester

John is responsible for the motivation division of p&mm ltd and a Director on the board of the IPM. Specialising in developing, implementing and directing many large scale staff motivation, recognition and employee communications programmes.

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