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Keep your employees motivated by recognizing their effort

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One of the most frequent calls our Business Resource Counselors get surrounds employee management, like discipline or, if that has failed, termination. 

Performance issues that lead to discipline can be rooted in many different areas: sometimes the employee’s skills really have diminished; sometimes too much work is being put on them; sometimes it relates back to their training; and sometimes they have just plain lost the motivation to be productive. Correcting this can save you money: it generally costs a business more time and money to terminate an employee and hire and train a replacement than it does to correct the incumbent’s behaviour. 

Spark their motivation with recognition

A 2014 study showed a correlation between how workers are recognized and their productivity. This doesn’t mean you need to give a standing ovation every time your employee does something small, but you’d be surprised how far a “thank you,” or even brief recognition for doing something right, goes in terms of job satisfaction.

For example, here are safety measures to notice and recognize:

  • Are they wearing the right protective equipment?
  • Did someone mention learning a task before doing it for the first time?
  • Did someone caution a colleague before she tried to stand on a wheel-based chair?
  • Is someone coaching your rookie employee on how to lift safely?

Catch the person doing it right. Be specific, short, say why it matters and move on.  
Hey Thomas, thanks for taking safety seriously and wearing the gloves for the job. Safety matters. You are an excellent example for the team.  

A focus on quality could look like this:

  • Were this month’s statements right the first time?
  • Did all the invoices get out on time?
  • Was rework at zero?
  • Did you beat last month’s/quarter’s results on standards?
  • Did you overhear or receive a compliment about a staff member’s interaction with a customer?

Again, catch the person doing it right. Be specific, short, say why it matters and move on. 
Rouenna, I appreciate your focus on presenting correct work the first time through – it saves everyone time, and we know we can rely on you.

Other things you could call out for recognition include:

  • Attendance
  • Timekeeping
  • Efficient use of materials
  • Respect for co-workers
  • Making suggestions
  • Keeping work & common areas clean 
  • Using machinery or tools with care

Incentivizing good performance: not just for sales jobs 

Instead of punishing undesirable actions, reward good ones. Implement policies that motivate your employees with incentives. 

This is common practice in the sales world, but incentives are just as applicable in accounting, auto repair, food service, etc. Rewards don’t need to be monetary: you can offer days off, more breaks, job title enhancement, public recognition, prizes, etc. The sky is the limit!

Workplace recognition not only creates motivated employees, it creates a happier, more cohesive work environment. A strong disciplinary process is important, but an even stronger workplace recognition policy can make the former all but obsolete.