employee recognitionIt is critical, particularly during challenging economic times, that business owners recognize their employees for all their hard work. If you can reaffirm and re-enforce your team members’ value and contribution while your organization is coping with the global downturn, you stand a better chance of retaining your best people when the economy turns around and opportunities to leave become plentiful.

When we think of employee recognition, most may think of praise and financial rewards. However, it will require a holistic and integrated approach to ensure that members of your team know their importance to your continued success. Nearly everything we do as business owners in the workplace either contributes to or takes away from how recognized and appreciated our employees feel. If you, as the owner and leader of the organization, go into work feeling and acting as if you are a victim of the down economy, your team will follow your lead and adopt a helpless attitude and blame external factors for lack of growth and sales.

Employee recognition can be used strategically by employers to reward good behaviour and keep team members “present” and accountable for favourable results. It builds and reinforces the belief that they work for a company that cares and it reminds them to look for solutions (as opposed to focusing on problems or what is not working in the business).

But all employee recognition is not created equal. Almost all businesses use varying combinations of intrinsic recognition – health-care benefits, flexible work hours, time-in-lieu for volunteer activities, training opportunities and annual awards.

But recent studies (surveying thousands of workers across Australia) have clearly shown that the cornerstone of meaningful employee recognition is actually “opportunity”. An award may be a tangible, formal sign of recognition, but employees view opportunity as the primary indicator that their manager values them.

Opportunities don’t have to be expensive to be effective. You can provide the chance for a team member to better themselves by doing something as simple as trusting them with VIP customers or introducing them to a key figure inside or outside of the organization. It’s also been proven that employees find recognition more inherently valuable when it’s administered individually (i.e. in private) rather than in public.

The business owner or manager is the essential component when it comes to effectively recognizing valuable team members. Companies should employ the 80-20 rule-keeping in mind that team members respond best to a blend of diverse mix of employee recognition. Only a small percentage (20%) of an employee’s overall recognition can come from peers and financial means before it loses its effect. The remaining 80% should come from the business (i.e. intrinsic recognition) and direct praise must always come from the manager, and be delivered in private, in order to maximize the impact.

When you consider it from the perspective of the employee, it makes perfect sense. The manager or business owner ultimately decides who gets hired, who gets fired and who gets promoted. Timely approval and recognition from the owner or manager is the best way for an employee to judge his/her progress and stay accountable by focusing on targets and solutions. Opportunity is in fact the #1 motivator – and it often won’t cost the business a cent, which is great news in challenging times like these.

About The Author
Rhondalynn's life changed forever after the loss of her mother due to a senseless tragedy in 1992. She decided that despite her formal training and a promising career as a lawyer and chartered accountant, she wanted to do something more. So despite the fact she had already invested 10 years of her adult life in university and articling, she did the unthinkable. She left her high paid job as Commercial Manager for one of the largest corporations in the country, she re-trained herself in the sciences of the mind and she discovered a passion for writing and sharing her knowledge with business owners and executives. Rhondalynn has distilled the secrets to business success - that she learned from her life experience and working in GM level roles with Price Waterhouse Coopers, Max Factor, Village Cinemas, and Coles Group Ltd. - and produced a simple step-by-step process that you can apply to your business to boost your sales and bottom line. Rhondalynn can help you put strategies in place to grow your bottom line and ensure that your customers would never think of going elsewhere. She is the leading expert on harnessing the power of your brain and using it to improve your financial results in business. Rhondalynn is the author of On The Shoulders of Giants, Imagineering Your Destiny, Sobre Hombros deGigantes, Financial Foreplay®, and Sales Seduction. She has appeared on CNN, Bnet/CBS, Channel 7, Channel 9, Kochie's Business Builders and 3AW, and writes for Yahoo, MYOB, Fast Thinking, Sunday Life, Dynamic Business, Business Spectator and Australian Retailer.


  • By Kodi Liubinskas 22 May 2013

    Creating a fun and friendly atmosphere within a workplace can be a significant contributor to boosting employee motivation and well-being.

    This post gives great insight into the importance of creating ‘opportunities’ for workers. I’d like to add that instilling confidence on top of this can ensure maximum efficiency and excellence in undertaking a task.

    Whether its simply filing a report, pitching for a sale or solving a complex problem; recognition and positive feedback can be fundamental in motivating employees to undertake opportunities and achieve business goals.

  • By Nivedita Velankar 08 Jun 2013

    For purpose driven and enlightened employees that can see through the “Carrot and Stick” approach behind certain strategic opportunities what you are “saying” in your article does not work. For me offering employees the “freedom” to “be” rather than “regulating” them would reap more rewards.

    Also, my advice to employees is if you are not a good fit for the company culture the likelihood is that you won’t “get” any job satisfaction. So please leave the company as soon as possible. Any amount of money the company will “pay” won’t be worth it !

  • By Cate Costa 08 Jun 2013

    Small businesses and startups will always have to find creative ways to attract and retain top employees as they can’t compete monetarily with the big guys, nor can they always offer a clear path up the ladder, so to speak. When employees are motivated by opportunity but the corporate structure is too flat to show them a promotion schedule, managers and owners need to be a bit more creative.

    This article does a great job of reminding small business owners that they do have a lot of control over how happy and productive their employees are, even though they may not be able to offer bonuses and promotions every year. I actually just did a similar piece about attracting and retaining top employees and pointed out the very same thing – these stars want the opportunity to show what they can do, grow in their positions, and truly make a difference at the company where they work, so attracting and retaining them is more about company culture and commitment to employees than it is about big paychecks.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

Connect with Rhondalynn