Saturday, July 21, 2012

Retain Talent Through Recognition

Most CEOs will tell you the most important asset is their employees.  Most human resource directors will tell you the most challenging problem facing them today is finding and retaining talent.  After diligent recruiting efforts and waiting longer than the market does, you build a great team of mixed individuals that have the potential to produce amazing things.  In addition to supporting an agile environment, companies must dedicate time and capital to implement recognition programs as part of the business model to retain their most valuable assets.  Not just key employees, but ALL employees should have the opportunity to earn public recognition from their peers, managers and executive team members. At the end of the day, we all like to feel appreciated.

Money is important, and opportunities to earn more income should not be limited to only 1-2 times a year during scheduled performance reviews.  Given the rate of turnover today, most teams are likely to have a different boss or a re-organization of departmental priorities with in any given six month period.  If you are not a Fortune 50 Company with ‘old money’ enabled incentives and perks, then you had better start personally getting to know who your employees are so you can effectively reward them.
Once you know what makes your people happy, it is a great idea to allocate budget and receive sign-off to support a recognition program. Without a litte funding, the manager will incur the cost to motiviate his/her team, and this can limit reward options available for the whole team as well as for individual members.  If you need help convincing your business owner, do some research and have accurate statistical evidence to present.  According to Martz’s research, employees who receive recognition where they work are:
  • 5 times more likely to feel valued
  • 7 times more likely to stay with the company
  • 6 times more likely to invest in the company
  • 11 times more likely to feel completely committed to the company
Given that the same research survey results showed that it takes 5-8% of an employee’s salary to to change behavior if the reward is cash, as compared to 4% of the employee’s salary if the reward is not cash (Nelson), it just makes good business sense to develop a more personal relationship with your employees.
Once you have budget and buy-in, the fun part is coming up with different reward and recognition ideas.  If your teams are not already in the habit of conducting continuous iterations of inspection and adaption, then you have a lot of information to compile.  Know what the current situation is, where you need to be and how you plan to get there.  Understand how each individual can and should contribute to make an immediate, noticeable impact on the team and/or company.   After group and individual goals are aligned on the most important things that bring the most value, communicate how to measure success.
Finally, enjoy yourselves in a creative discussion on positive ways to recognize an individual and what would make that type of individual happy.  Encourage fun rewards that serve as team building activities and individual professional improvement. Most importantly, everyone should re-learn how to say thank you.  It is amazing how effective a timely, sincere and specific ‘Thank You’ can be.
“1501 Ways to Reward Employees” written by Bob Nelson, Ph.D., copyright 2012

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